Rise To The Occasion October 19, 2011 By Derf Soller

Green Section Committeeman, Terry Nelson, recently received the National High School Coaches Hall of Fame Award for his many years of coaching young golfers. 


It’s time to rise to the occasion! 

This update involves two topics.  One is about common sense and turf health.  The other is about good people and the future health for the game of golf.

Rising to the occasion for turf health is simply raising the height of cut (HOC) of your putting greens prior to the winter season that is falling upon us throughout the Rocky Mountain Region.  Although this seems like a no brainer, there are still many courses that don’t do this, or put it off too late to make it happen.  And there is really no excuse for not raising the height of your greens.  While some courses in the higher elevations may already have snow cover, superintendents in these locations figured out some time ago that bringing up their mowing heights on greens can help them have a more healthy turf going into winter.  Most raised their HOC starting in mid-September.

But other courses that don’t have the early onset of winter snow, often put off this simple protocol too late to be of any good.  It is especially important for courses that do not get season-long snow cover.  Short-mowed turf that is exposed to long winters with winds, sun and no precipitation really need to do whatever possible to give the turf the best chance to make it thru the winter.  Weather prognosticators are once again calling for a La Nina winter for our part of the world like last year.  And maybe there will be banner snows for the resorts in most of the mountain areas.  But then, it may bring another extremely dry winter to many other areas. 

Plan now to bring up your HOC for your greens.  Many spring trips to golf courses have been showing a trend that the greens don’t fare nearly as well as tees, fairways and roughs when it comes to winter survival.  HOC of the turf seems to have a direct correlation.  With the extremely short shoot length of putting green turf, it’s almost no wonder.  And, with all the current research about the benefits of rolling greens, it is no time to delay!  Adding to the shoot length of greens turf will help it become more efficient, preparing itself for winter dormancy, fixing carbohydrates, and storing nutrients to help survive the long winter.

Secondly, I’d like you all to Rise to the Occasion and recognize one of our volunteer committee persons, Mr. Terry Nelson, of the Whitefish Lake Golf Course, Whitefish, MT.  Terry has been a member of the Green Section Committee since 2000 and has played an active role in the game of golf long before he joined the committee.  Terry recently received the National High School Coaches Hall of Fame Award for his many years of coaching young golfers!  His years teaching the game of golf, and his volunteer activities with the Green Section, demonstrate his passion for the game and all it has to offer.  Please visit this link to read more about Terry’s accomplishments and recognition.  Congratulations, Terry, on a well deserved award! 

Need a Turf Advisory Service (TAS) visit to help evaluate things on your golf course? 

The Northwest region of the USGA is available to make course visits and help review your maintenance programs.  We can often help educate golfers and course officials about the challenges of golf course maintenance thru our TAS program.  Contact Larry Gilhuly, Director, ( or Derf Soller, Agronomist ( for more information or to schedule a visit.  Wendy Schwertfeger, Administrative Assistant may also be reached for information at:  208.732.0280 or at