New grow lamps help crews make Miller Park grass pristine

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by Lane Kimble

MILWAUKEE -- Take a look outside and still see some white snow, brown mud and some patches of yellowish grass.  But inside Miller Park, a gorgeous green field awaits the Brewers return thanks, in large part, to some new grow lamps.

"The research is really working in our favor at this point and is definitely going to be an asset to us as a  grounds department," Brewers Grounds Director Michael Boettcher said.

The brewers bought the grow lamps in Europe over the off-season.  They simulate sunshine on sections of the field  for 24-hours at a time.  That's helped repair some areas that were affected by frost over the winter.

"We are getting some temperatures up, we're feeding the turf a little bit here, slowly," Boettcher said.  "Then with the lights,  you know it's definitely starting to get ready."

Milwaukee County Golf courses can't say the same thing yet.  Fresh snow forced Dean Wilde and his buddies inside Wauwatosa's Currie Park Golf Dome Tuesday.

"It was kind of a let down, because we were looking for warm weather and to get out there and swing the clubs and  the courses to open, but no," Wilde said.

County courses hope most of the snow melts away by the end of the week.  But grounds crews will then need to clean fairways and greens before anyone can hit the links.

"There's going to be a lot of tree branches down, some leaves from last fall," Parks Golf Turf Manager Jon Canavan said.  "We get a blower out, we mow the  greens, rake the bunkers up."

Back at Miller Park, the infield rakes were already out and mowers cut their first patterns in the lamp-aided sod.  Boettcher couldn't put a dollar figure on how much the heat lamps cost, but he says they're worth the price tag.

"When it comes to putting out a quality field for our quality team we have out here, you know, the investment is still looked at as a good investment for the organization," Boettcher said.

Crews will use the heat lamps right up until Friday morning when the Brewers return home for two exhibition games against the Kansas City Royals.  Crews will keep using the lamps periodically throughout the season.

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