To: London Hunt and Country Club Membership
Re: 2012 Course Closing and Winter Preparation
I am writing this letter to inform all membership of the measures we at the Grounds Department are taking to protect the golf course from winter disease and environmental pressures.
SNOW MOULD PROTECTION
To ensure no snow mould on our tees, greens and fairways it is critical we apply a fungicide to these areas at this time of year. We require 5 days without precipitation and high winds to complete this task. Timing of this application is critical as it must be applied before permanent snowfall. This operation has commenced and will be completed towards the end of the week.
COVERS AND MEASURES IMPLEMENTED
The use of synthetic covers for the protection of our Poa annua putting greens has received much discussion. After research and thought, the intention this season is to let the plants naturally harden off and physiologically prepare themselves for winter. This season the following measures have been taken to improve both summer and winter growing environments with the ultimate objective to increase the creeping bentgrass population.
- Implemented a deep-tine aerification program to aid in moving surface and sub-surface water through the soil profile and away from the turfgrass crowns where winter damage occurs.
- Increased the amount of topdressing sand applied in 2012 resulting in dryer and better draining green surfaces.
- Interseeded creeping bentgrass into the Poa annua putting greens to improve stand diversity allowing for greater tolerance to environmental extremes, including winter cold and summer heat.
The principal causes of winter damage on putting greens are snow mould fungi, low temperature kill and hydration damage which is the repeated freezing and thawing of plant tissues. Poa annua (annual bluegrass) putting greens are the most susceptible to hydration damage and superintendents have been experimenting with ways to protect their greens with varying results over the years. Researchers have tested many materials including solid insulated covers, non-insulated and shaved wood products. Ultimately, snow proved to be a very good insulator keeping the temperature stable at 0 C.
Some practical information has been revealed by the research. Protection against hydration damage requires keeping the greens dry. This can be achieved ONLY with solid plastic covers either alone or with insulating materials. The covers we have are perforated plastic covers which allow for water movement through and under the covers. Permeable covers will not prevent ice buildup and in fact cause considerable difficulty and expense when ice is removed from the green surface. These covers also do not provide any insulating effect to the plant and are used primarily for wind desiccation and premature spring green-up. If local snowfall is deep and consistent, insulating material is not necessary. Timing of installation and removal of the covers is also crucial. The greens must be exposed to lower temperatures in the fall to properly harden the plants. Also, leaving the covers on too long in the spring will promote disease and premature, weak growth. Permeable covers however, are an excellent tool for remediation of the turf when applied in early spring. Finally, covers are not a substitute for correct construction and growing environment improvements.
Covers have their place depending on type, use and geographic location. Our perforated covers consume a vast amount of resources to not only apply but also to remove and store. They are a long-term investment that requires an annual capital expense. Historically the 10th and 11th greens at the London Hunt and Country Club have never been covered and have wintered well. We ask the same for all our greens this winter and will monitor their progress over the coming months; hopefully, Mother Nature will do her part.
Golf Course Superintendent,
London Hunt and Country Club