The Spring of 2014… Winter Injury and Recovery…

Spring is a time of excitement and rejuvination for people, plants and wildlife alike. This year is with no exception, considering the duration and harshness of the winter of 2014. This past March will go down in the record books as one of the coldest in recent history unleashing a series of plummeting temperatures well below zero. All this weather has certainly put a hold on the excitement and optimism of spring, at least for a few more weeks.

2014-04-02

10 Green, March 31, 2014

Golf Course Update
At present the course remains 40% snow covered, with deep frost well below 3 feet in the ground. The long range forecast is for a brief warm up followed by seasonably cool weather with highs below 10 degrees. The receding snow and ice cover over the past few days has opened a window into the health and condition of the golf course. Recent plug samples are indicating that we have experienced extensive injury.  It wouldn’t be a total surprise if there is a 60% winter kill ratio and possibly higher on some greens.The remaining snow and ice covered turf on fairways, tees and rough have been examined and show early signs of health, although we are still many days away from warming temperatures. The accumulation of ice above saturated frozen soils in December and January coupled with extreme temperature fluctuations through March has made this winter the most severe in over 30 years. Would the perforated covers have made a difference on the greens this winter? The answer to this question is no and we would be faced with the same situation. The covers are permeable and were never designed to prevent water from flowing through the plastic weeve and freezing to the surface of the greens. The 4 inches of solid ice stayed in place for well over 60 days due to the severe length of cold from January through late March. This layer of “frozen concrete” smothered the grass and prevented any gas exchange to the air above, leading to death by anoxia. The use of covers, however, to artificially increase soil temperatures and promote the germination of bentgrass seed will be used over the coming days and weeks. A detailed restoration and recovery plan has been established and we are now preparing for the next step in this process.

Golf Course Traffic and Injury…
In light of the saturated, frozen conditions and fragile turf health a decision to withhold spring golf has been implemented. The transition from frozen soils to saturated wet conditions is the most critical time for avoiding additional turf damage. The plants will be awakening from over 100 days of snow and ice and have very little energy reserves or capacity to receive additional traffic.   At this time last year we were well into our spring clean-up and maintenance programs, including the first cut to fairways. The current saturated conditions need time to thaw and drain and will certainly delay on-course equipment operations for the foreseeable future. All efforts will be made to open our range facilities at the earliest possible time to give Members an opportunity to prepare for an eventual spring opening.

Course Preparations
There is much work to be carried out this spring; winter recovery will be our top priority. Our spring maintenance schedule, including the coring and verticutting of greens, tees and fairways will be crucial in the establishment and incorporation of new bentgrass seed. Weather permitting, the following course activities will be completed by the Grounds Team over the next 3 weeks and include:

  • Winter debris and branches cleaned and removed
  • Dressing of landscaped beds
  • Long range maintenance, set-up and opening
  • Short range maintenance, set-up and opening
  • Greens, tees and fairways cleaned of winter debris prior to scheduled maintenance activities
  • Overseeding and covering of injured greens with new and improved cold and heat tolerant grasses
  • Irrigation system start up
  • Undergrowth and brush removal from greens complexes 7, 9, 10, 11
  • Bunker maintenance will be delayed due to frozen soil conditions

2014-04-02b

April 2, 2013

2014-04-02c

April 1, 2014

Talking Points…the Silver Lining

  • With the severity of the winter, we are anticipating weaker Poa annua this spring with slower growth and potential losses. Nature determines survival; although a slower transition to bentgrass over time is preferred and injury was not desired, an opportunity presents itself…
  • Our long-term goal has been to strengthen our golf course, particularly the greens, with reliable, genetically superior creeping bentgrass varieties.
  • The long range Tree Management Program has now been initiated and will be a key factor in promoting morning sunlight and air movement in an effort to establish and maintain an environmentally stronger species of grass.
  • All cultural practices will be carried out in such a way as to minimize the impact to Membership with the ultimate goal of providing superior, healthier putting surfaces.

The Grounds Department is excited to make the 2014 Golf Season a memorable one and we appreciate all the support that we receive from the membership. Thank you!

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