Ben Geren Golf Course Superintendent Proposes Changes

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Now that spring is in full swing, golfers are hitting the links and enjoying the weather.

While the Masters tournament teed off Thursday (April 7) there is something else the golfers at Ben Geren Park are looking forward to.

A little more than two months into the job, Superintendent Jay Randolph has been enjoying his work, while thinking of ways to improve the course.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Randolph said.

Aside from switching to warm-season grass, he is proposing the idea of adding native natural grass, where wildflowers and animals would be seen.

“We have a long history of the plant life that was here, and the animal life that was here, almost 200 years of it,” he said.

Red flags throughout the course represent where the native natural grass might go, and he is encouraging golfers to provide feedback on those proposed locations.

But he said the change would impact more than just the people teeing up.

“Things we're doing out here can be exposed to more than just the golfers,” he said. “Kids can come out and see a prairie. Teachers can have a bigger ability to teach biology and things like that."

Golf Director Steve Nicholls said right now, there are an average of about 60 golfers on the course each day.

One of those golfers out on Thursday was Mike Thames.

“Every Thursday we play golf out here,” he said.

Thames has been golfing at Ben Geren since the 70s, and said while the grass may not be perfect now after the heavy rain in 2015, he's confident in the future.

“I choose to support it because I know what it can be,” he said. “I know what it was and I know what it can be."

While the transitions happening around the course will take some time, Thames and his golf buddy David Blount have something they can enjoy now: the Masters.

“We’ll be golfing in the morning and watching in the afternoon,” he said.

Randolph said it would take a few years before the native natural grass areas become a reality.

In the meantime, the Masters will be on this weekend on KFSM.