(Pictured Above: GM Julius Reece practices putting on the 18th green at Winston Lake Golf Course.)
The grass is greener at Winston Lake Golf Course thanks to a recent $237,500 greens replacement project by the City of Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks Department. The greens replacement was a long time coming, but well worth the wait.
According to Recreation and Parks Director Tim Grant, “You’re doing well if you get 20-30 years out of your greens; these had lived two life times. In the last several years, courses across the country have had trouble maintaining greens—call it global warming or whatever, but the cycles of extreme weather have taken a toll on the courses. We had to find a better grass.”
That better grass was Diamond Zoysia; a patented variety that seems to be the future of golf courses, replacing the traditional Bermuda grass. In addition to its nice color, Diamond Zoysia has numerous other attributes.
“It tolerates heat and drought, shade, salty soils, and regrows and recovers from wear quickly,” says Grant. “That translates to savings in man hours to maintain the greens as well as reduced water and chemical usage down the road.”
Since its humble 9-hole beginnings in 1956, Winston Lake Golf Course cultivated a reputation for being a stellar course; so much so it was inducted into the National Black Golf Hall of Fame in 2010. At the time it was described as “a course that can test the ingenuity and skill of the best golfers.”
For Winston Lake General Manager Julius Reece, it’s a history he sees as a “sacred responsibility” to carry forward and build on. “We have golfers here every day who were here in the beginning. The amount of information and wisdom they have about golf and this course is amazing. We want to maintain a very challenging course for them. The new greens are actually greener, thicker, larger, cushiony, and more durable. It’s a great golf experience.”
But the real question regarding the merits of Diamond Zoysia and Winston Lake Golf Course is–how does it play? And that’s a question best answered by those who saw the first blades of grass planted. Since 1956, James F. Dixson has called Winston Lake his golfing home and fondly remembers a time of $35 annual memberships and 75 cent green fees.
“I’ve seen three clubhouses and six general managers,” recalls Dixson. “Part of what makes this a wonderful facility is the people and part is we always are making it better. The new greens play great. We just keep improving Winston Lake.”
Fellow golfer Hiawatha Bethea joined Winston Lake in 1960 and agrees with Dixson’s assessment, “It’s better, much better. They work really hard keeping up this course and it shows. The Zoysia is great. We have a course to be proud of.”
Bill Rogers and Bob Heymann took a hiatus from golf about five years ago and just recently picked the game back up. This first round on the new greens of Winston Lake received a resounding “wonderful” from Rogers and “thumbs up” from Heymann. Both men agreed that the course offers “a true test of golfing skill” that make it a golf outing worth repeating.
GM Reece is glad to hear it, “Our biggest market is senior play, so it’s appealing to them. I’d like the community as a whole to discover all we have to offer—the clubhouse, food, pro shop—in addition to the best greens around.”