Few, if any elements add to the ambiance of a golf course more than a well-maintained stream or pond. But successfully maintaining one or more bodies of water requires devising a strategy and then executing it.
Steve Datwyler is doing just that at The Golf Club at Ravenna, a single-owner, private facility in Littleton Colorado that is part of an upscale residential community, and Aquaritin Lakes has been instrumental in his success.
A graduate of Colorado State, Datwyler worked at several clubs before arriving at Ravenna in 2010. He’s in his 10th season as the superintendent.
The golf course, which opened for play in 2007 was designed by Jay Morrish, who was responsible for Las Colinas in Texas and TPC Scottsdale in Arizona, among others.
About a year into Datwyler’s tenure as superintendent, in the wake of a bankruptcy, the club began a renovation effort with the intention of making the layout more user friendly for the recreational golfer.
“2015 was kind of a new beginning for Ravenna,” Datwyler said. “We’re under new ownership and kind of had a successful real estate and golf membership from 2015 on. One of the first things that our owner did when he took over ownership of the golf course was to improve the playability of Ravenna.
“We had (over 100) bunkers on the golf course, we had over four acres of sand, we had incredibly difficult greens and so we’ve spent the last six years improving the playability. We removed over two acres of sand, we’ve rebuilt a few greens to kind of soften the severe contours and slope.”
Today, golfers have their choice of six sets of tees ranging from 4,330 to 7,212 yards. Par is 71.
During the renovation, Datwyler took steps to streamline his maintenance practices as well.
The layout features four ponds. The largest of them, at the par-3 sixth hole, serves as an irrigation pond.
“And then there’s three other ponds throughout the golf course,” Datwyler said. “Their primary function is to capture storm water and improve water quality post-storm before it leaves our site. Those ponds also become features of the golf holes.”
Datwyler gets his water from a variety of sources.
“It’s actually a blend of snow melt, and rainfall,” he said. “It’s off of the Plumb Creek which is about nine miles from our property. But the Plum Creek also takes up a lot of effluent water from upstream treatment plants. So, it’s a blend of effluent and snow melt rainfall. And as the season progresses through the summer and fall, there is more effluent water than there is natural runoff.”
When Datwyler first assumed his superintendent’s post, he and his team maintained the ponds themselves.
“We did not have a contractor,” he said. “I would say we had poor quality ponds. We had a lot of algae, we had a lot of pond weed.”
After three years of managing his ponds himself, Datwyler made the decision to hire a contractor to do it for him.
“They are experts,” he pointed out. “Our water quality improved over the course of that first season. And they maintained the ponds very well.”
The contracting team would check on the ponds weekly during the golf season and apply product as needed, including copper products for water quality and Sonar to combat pond weed. They also took steps to minimize the amount of cattails on site.
“Prior to the surge of golf from Covid, our club was looking to save money anywhere that we could,” Datwyler said. “Our revenue wasn’t really strong in 2019 and early ’20, so that was somewhere where I felt like we could save; we were going to be able to save about 12 thousand dollars by not using a pond contractor.”
The decision to once more take the management of his ponds back under his own umbrella led to Datwyler’s introduction to Aquaritin Lakes & Ponds.
“One of our local distributors had picked up Aquaritin as part of their line,” he said, “and started to promote it. It intrigued me enough to use this product. I’m always kind of interested in novel products.”
Introducing Aquaritin Lakes into his pond-maintenance protocol provided Datwyler with not only a new product but access to a knowledge base and support system in the person of Anil Nanda, the President of Aquaritin Turf Solutions.
Datwyler made the first of three early season applications of Aquaritin Lakes & Ponds in early May of 2020, timed for when the temperature exceeded 50 degrees.
“I think we did our initial application at about one 1 liter to 2.5 million gallons of water,” he said, “and then we did some maintenance applications after that which was about half a liter per 2.5 million gallons. I want to say we did four or five treatments that year. It was two to three weeks in the spring and then as needed through the summer.”
“It’s fairly small,” he said. “It’s about half an acre in size and it’s fairly shallow, so it has kind if a strong odor that comes from it and then a lot of algae and I noticed that the water clarity in there improved and I noticed the reduction in odor and overall algae.
“That was a pond where I really noticed an improvement in clarity. The other ponds weren’t nearly as bad but that really stood out to me.”
Aquaritin Lakes & Ponds has been in Datwyler’s tool kit ever since. He and his crew, which numbers approximately 20, handle the applications themselves, which require 60-90 minutes of time every two weeks (they supplement Aquaritin Lakes with copper products when needed).
Datwyler anticipates making changes to his water-testing protocols. He’s tested water quality once a year in the past but anticipates testing more frequently going forward.
“I think this year, I’m going to test more often,” he said. Because in the summertime we have more effluent water as the summer progresses into the fall. I definitely want to start testing more often so I think I’m going to see some results this year. “
Datwyler note that Aquaritin Lakes & Ponds’ effectiveness has enabled him to ward off a potential algae issue.
“Our water source was diverted from the Plum Creek. The pond that’s managed by the town of Castle Rock (some 26 miles south of Littleton) has a lot of algae and when it comes to us, all that nutrient-rich water; we have all the ingredients to have a pretty good algae bloom on our site but we certainly don’t have that problem.”