With the National Sports Center’s Kick-Off Challenge and Spring Cup soccer tournaments scheduled for consecutive weekends coming up, what does the NSC’s turf staff do to get our grass fields ready for the first grass soccer tournaments of the year?
“Sometimes it’s better to do nothing than too much,” said Curtiss Conkright, the NSC’s Director of Turf. “This is the hardest time of the year for the turf department. The fields are soft and not growing yet, so we’re not going to overdo it.”
That doesn’t mean the dozen members of the turf staff are putting their feet up in the table and relaxing. There’s a short window of time from the time the winter snow is fully melted until players take the field. Field lines need to be painted, goals moved into position, trash containers dropped off, and winter litter needs to be picked up. And it all needs to happen with a light touch.
“We can’t drive heavy equipment on the fields yet,” said Conkright. “We don’t want to leave ruts.”
Conkright said players and fans can expect typical Minnesota early-spring conditions, which means a mix of green and brown grass, some soft turf and a few bare patches.
“Nothing looks really dead, but there are open spots for sure,” he said. “Ideally we would want 100 percent growing grass, but we’re not there yet. Some spots will be dirt. They’ll eventually fill in; it just takes time.”
Once the turf gets growing for real, the NSC turf guys will have some impressive new tools to care for the NSC fields and the Victory Links golf course. Thanks to the NSC’s partnership with Toro, they’ve been outfitted with new mowers, spreaders and other lawn care machinery.
On one test mow this week, the Pegasus, a 24 foot wide tow-behind mower, mowed all the K-fields in 30 minutes – a quarter the time that job took with the old equipment.