Opening Spring Preparations…Is the Grass Ready?

This time last season the golf course had been open for 11 days and we had experienced 10 days above 20° C with a high of 31.9° C in March.   What a difference a year makes.  So far we have experienced a prolonged stretch of cool weather this spring.   These more “seasonal” temperatures have felt anything but normal when compared to the very abnormal spring temperatures experienced in March of 2012.

Temperatures in the London area during March 2012 averaged 8.6 °C which is 4.6 degrees above the normal high of 4 °C.  Temperatures this Spring have averaged
-1 °C.  Overall, there were 9 days in March when the daytime temperature was above
0 °C.  The warmest day of the month occurred on March 10 with a high of 14° C.

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So what does all this mean?

Unfortunately, it means a later start for Spring preparations and a later start for Spring golf.  The primary concern during early Spring is temperature.  The turfgrass has been dormant since last December and is in a weakened state due to low energy reserves.   By all measures the greens have managed well over the winter and all turf plugs brought indoors have responded well and are slowly greening up.  Positive day and night time temperatures are needed to encourage turf to break dormancy.  This is needed along with timely Spring rains to fully awaken the turfgrass from its winter’s sleep and to start producing energy once again.  At this time we can give the greens their first cut and remove desiccated turf.  When the turf shows the need of a second cut it will verify that it is actively growing and ready for foot traffic and Spring play.

Spring Course Activities 2013

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The following list of activities will be carried out in the coming days in order to prepare the golf course for 2013:

  • Playing surfaces must be firm enough to allow foot traffic and mechanical blowing of all debris.
  • All surfaces must be rolled prior to first mowing in order to smooth surfaces and push crowns of plants into the soil from winter freeze/thaw cycles.
  • All greens, tees, aprons and fairways need to receive 2 mowings prior to regular traffic and play.
  • Bunkers need to be cleaned of winter debris, including; sticks, branches, leaves, weeds and surface stones from freeze/thaw cycles.
  • Due to winter rains; sand will need to be re-allocated on all bunker faces and bottoms.
  • Bunker edging on holes 1 – 9 will commence as soon as possible dependant on frozen soil.
  • All rough to be cleaned of winter branches and sticks prior to first brushing and mowing.  The brushing will help remove unwanted dried leaf tissue exposing new shoots below.
  • The forward and middle Range tee decks will be aerated, over-seeded and topdressed.
  • All divots will be filled and seeded throughout golf course.
  • Spring fertilizer soil amendments as per soil test recommendations will be applied to all fairways and tee areas.  Applying these nutrient amendments while closed provides for improved application efficiencies.
  • Stump grinding, soil and sod preparations to be completed from winter tree removals.
  • Grading and sod refurbishment to be completed around #10 pond.
  • Irrigation pumpstation service, start-up, line filing and troubleshooting.

The entire grounds team including; Deb Dale, Brent Mcdougall and Mark McCallum are eager and excited to prepare the golf course for another season.  Preparations began last fall and extended throughout the winter months.  We are anticipating an excellent golf season and are as anxious and energized as many of the Members to get 2013 officially underway.   We appreciate and thank you for your understanding and patience as Mother Nature truly has the final say on our day-to-day course activities.  Further updates as to course conditions and opening day preparations will be posted soon.

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