As you are well aware, we began a greens recovery process on April 21st beginning with an aggressive overseeding of the putting surfaces. Since that time, there has been a mix of weather. Although the time of recovery is something beyond our control, I am pleased with the progress to date. Originally, our greens suffered from 10% to 90% winter injury, and we are in the latter half of recovery.
The Golf Course Standards Committee is supportive of the intention of not opening greens prematurely, and risking the short and long term health of the greens, but I am happy to report that we are now at a point where greens will begin to open individually for play in the coming days.
Further updates will be communicated regularly regarding play for certain events and leagues in the next few weeks.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. Where are we now and when will the greens be ready for regular play?
A. We are at the most difficult time in the recovery process as the seedlings are beginning to mature while some areas remain thin. Despite the fact that excellent germination has occurred and the seeds are now visible, patience is still the number one factor.
Recovery from this catastrophic type of injury requires a minimum time of 6 to 12 weeks when recovering from seed on sand bedding. At present we are now 3 weeks post germination with 10 days of sub-optimal temperatures. Despite this news we are well on our way to recovery. The main key is having no greens open to undue early play thereby allowing the seedlings to mature through the addition of mid-day additions of seed, sand and water.
Q. When can we expect to play on some of the less injured greens?
A. Patience is of utmost importance as early turf cover alone does not mean the surfaces are sound. Opening of greens will begin as early as late this week on an individual basis. The initial heights of cut will be set at a modest spring height to encourage rooting prior to summer stress. As the plants reach full maturity and density, further efforts and measures will be employed to improve ball roll.
Q. How much extra is the greens recovery campaign costing relative to normal operating conditions?
A. The cost of recovery to the greens surfaces is primarily time and time alone. Costs to date over 2013 operational expenses is the addition of 150 lbs. of Creeping Bentgrass seed over and above the normal use of 264 lbs. of seed during our overseeding windows of operation. This additional seed comes at a cost of $2,025. A reserve of an additional 250 lbs. of seed has been purchased for later spot seeding and to protect our inventories from market shortages. Fungicide applications have been made to protect the young seedlings, however, year over year we have not incurred any additional greens applications, in fact, the cool dry month of April mitigated an extra fungicide application to all fairways at a savings of over $6,000. Fertility applications have been frequent yet timed with both soil and air temperatures. Additional fertilizer nutrient costs will be incurred this spring, however, these costs are marginal relative to the size of greens acreage.
Q. What are the next steps to recovery and projections moving forward?
A. Recovery from this type of environmental disaster takes a true team effort and Member support. After 23 days post-germination a tremendous amount of progress has been made. As mentioned at the Town Hall Meeting, 41 days from 100% injured turf to fully-recovered playing surfaces would be incredible. With the recent warm weather and temperatures forecast to remain consistent, the next 20 days will certainly amplify the work already done. Judicious sand topdressing and further vertical seeding will be fundamental over the next 2-3 weeks. We anticipate all greens to be open by early to mid-June with healthy mowing speeds returning by mid-July. As a recap; 12 greens received over 50% winterkill, 4 greens received less than 50% injury while 2 greens suffered less than 10% damage.
On behalf of the entire Grounds Team I would like to thank the entire Membership for your continued support during this difficult time. We are committed to returning the London Hunt and Country Club playing surfaces to their previous championship form over the coming weeks and look forward to an exciting and challenging summer and fall golfing calendar.