Spring is a great time for golf across the Southeast. In the warmest areas, where bermudagrass does not go dormant season-long, conditions should improve rapidly. Sunnier days, and less rain than we experienced from the strong El Niño, will mean better growing and playing conditions. Golfers can expect faster greens, more ball roll in the fairways, fewer plugged lies and less mud on the ball. These are all welcome changes after an unusually wet and gray winter.
In the more temperate areas, golfers should experience a respite from the heavy and frequent winter rains. Strong winter storms caused wind damage on many courses, necessitating some spring cleanup. The milder winter temperatures will equate to quicker bermudagrass green-up and greater fairway density as temperatures increase this spring. Golfers may also begin to see localized dry spots as cool-season grasses begin to struggle.
Along with improving turf conditions, golfers across the Southeast will also see some of the challenges that follow an unusually mild and wet winter. Winter scars may be apparent on greens that struggled from reduced sunlight, overabundant rain and shade issues. Turfgrass diseases and pests, such as mosquitoes, could be more problematic this spring. Trees and ornamentals will also be flowering heavily, bringing more pollen along with their beautiful spring color. It might be a good idea to pack allergy medication and insect repellent along with your sunscreen as you head out to play this spring.
Steve Kammerer is the regional director, southeast region, for the USGA Green Section. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.