Superintendent's View

November 2016

Winter Preparation = Healthy Spring Turf
As the golf season winds down, the maintenance crew at Spirit Hollow will be busy preparing for the 2017 golf season.

Two areas of focus are our fall fertility program and secondary rough management.

When the leaves start to change and Iowa football has begun, we work on achieving our goal of applying the proper nutrients to the entire golf course.  You might think it silly to fertilize this late in the year, especially when the practice of mowing is slowing down, but the benefits are seen and felt the following spring.  By fertilizing late in the fall, we are allowing the grass plant to take-up the nitrogen and store-it for the next spring.  If we can time the application late enough, the energy of the fertilizer will be stored in the roots and not wasted in shoot growth.
The timing of our fescue (secondary rough) mowing is also very important.  We mow down the grass after the plant is done producing growth and the pressure of summer weeds is over. When we do this properly, we can apply our broadleaf herbicide after the summer annuals have finished germinating and more precisely attack any persistent perennials weeds.  This gives us a big advantage the next year to keep out unwanted weeds

Both late fall fertilization and secondary rough management are two more practices that help us create a beautiful golf course. See you in the spring!

Dave Beik, Class A GCSAA
Spirit Hollow Superintendent since 2000

October 2016

Firm, Fast Greens & Water Conservation

Each year at Spirit Hollow, we strive to provide a better golf course for our players. One of the tools in our arsenal is hand watering. This practice gives us a tool to maintain the putting greens and provide consistent conditions, whether for every day play or for tournaments.

When Spirit Hollow was designed, putting greens construction played an important role in the development of the irrigation plan. Our greens were designed using USGA guidelines which means the construction method allowed for a perched water table below the surface of the green.  This table allows us to water less, knowing our roots have available water to uptake when needed.
To achieve firmer and faster greens, the practice of watering turf has evolved over time.  In the old days, the maintenance crew simply set irrigation heads to run for a specific time every night. But as the science of greens maintenance has evolved, we’ve learned this practice leads to over watering, causing soft spongy greens that become susceptible to algae and fungus infestation. 

That’s why the team at Spirit Hollow has adopted the practice of hand watering the greens. On a daily basis, we only water the areas on the greens that need it, not the entire surface. By employing this method, we can control the moisture throughout the root zone and minimize our water usage throughout the year.

Dave Beik, Class A GCSAA
Spirit Hollow Superintendent since 2000

August 2016

How Weather Affects Maintenance
There is an old saying that goes something like this, “If you don’t like our weather here in Iowa, just wait a day.”  I could argue you simply have to wait 6 hours.

At Spirit Hollow, we see all extremes of weather and many can be challenging to our day-to-day operations. But no matter what Mother Nature throws at us, our staff knows the golf course needs to remain playable for our golfers.

I can tell you the most challenging weather for us is heavy rains and flooding conditions.  Saturated soils can greatly impact our daily mowing practices and restrict golf cart use. 
To combat this challenge, our best defense is to establish a well-drained golf course.

That’s why each year we identify poorly draining areas and improve them by installing tile drainage systems. We use a process called “sand topdressing” on our fairways which allows us to amend our soil profile, resulting in firmer and better drained turf.  Lastly, we vertically aerify the soils which helps with gas exchange, and also allows us an additional tool to move excess water down and away from our surface.

A well-drained soil is the absolute answer to quickly over coming heavy rains and returning our course to pristine playable conditions. Mother Nature may be in charge, but the maintenance team at Spirit Hollow is ready for whatever she sends our way.

Dave Beik, Class A GCSAA
Spirit Hollow Superintendent since 2000

July 2016

Greens Rolling

The practice of maintaining true, smooth and firm putting greens has evolved over time.  Here at Spirit Hollow, to achieve the best possible putting surface greens rolling has become a major tool in our management program.

Rolling greens are mostly done by three different types of machines.  Older pull-behind drum rollers, dedicated side-by-side rollers, and vibratory rollers.  We use vibratory rollers that mount on a triplex greens mower.  The ease of operation and training was a major factor in our decision.  No matter which type you use the goal is the same, firm and true greens.

The agronomic benefits of greens rolling have been a pleasant surprise to turf managers.  University research has proven greens rolling has many benefits, including: reduced turf stress, disease suppression, smoother surfaces which translates to a healthier and faster green.

We have adopted a lightweight rolling program that allows us to provide a consistent championship quality putting surface daily to our golfing community.

And if you have a question about the course or just want to know a little more about how we care for Spirit Hollow day in and day out, feel free to email your questions to

Dave Beik, Class A GCSAA
Spirit Hollow Superintendent since 2000

June 2016


The practice of topdressing is said to have originated more than a century ago at the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland. The benefits of topdressing include reducing soil compaction, the prevention of thatch build-up and the ability to modify the surface layer of the root zone.

Like many golf courses across the country, we have used topdressing in our putting green management at Spirit Hollow for years. It’s the reason you’ll find greens that are smooth and pristine.

Three years ago, we implemented a topdressing program for our fairways. Our target is to apply 1/4 inch of sand annually to our fairways, spread out over 4 applications.  Over the next 3-5 years we will drastically change our soil makeup.

From an agronomic perspective, we are building a layer of sand above the native soil to create a more sustainable soil profile to improve thatch control, drainage and surface firmness. 

It is an expensive and time-consuming process, but we think it is worth it. Our goal is to put our playing conditions up against the best courses in the country, so that when you visit, you’ll have an experience that will bring you back to Spirit Hollow again and again.

Dave Beik, Class A GCSAA
Spirit Hollow Superintendent since 2000

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