To Sod, Or Not To Sod – That Is The Question April 28, 2014 By Chris Hartwiger

(L) Winter Injury on bermudagrass approach – The brown bermudagrass in this approach to the putting green was injured by subzero temperatures experienced this winter. (R) Live rhizomes under injured approach – Beneath the surface, live rhizomes (recovery points) are present and growing toward the surface.

“To sod, or not to sod?” That is the question numerous golf course superintendents with cold-temperature winter injury on bermudagrass fairways and tees are being asked by golfers in the northern portion of the transition zone. It’s a good question to ask, and this update will answer it with two pictures of an injured area taken from different perspectives.

View 1: The surface. In this photo, there is minimal greenup on this bermudagrass approach following subzero temperatures this winter. Notice the straight line that separates healthy turf from injured turf. The green turf is healthy because the putting green cover extended slightly onto the approach.

View 2: Subsurface. In this image, rhizomes are white (meaning they are alive) and will eventually break the surface and generate new leaf tissue. Does this course have the patience to wait for natural recovery or is it more expedient to sod the area now? 

Unfortunately, there is no boilerplate answer to this dilemma. A site-by-site analysis is necessary to make an appropriate judgment as to whether the best option is to remove the injured turf and resod the area or let it grow in naturally. Each situation varies, even among areas on the same golf course.

USGA Southeast Region agronomists will be working with numerous golf facilities over the next few weeks on this issue. We will provide a written report of our analysis and assist in the development of site-specific recommendations. If you would like to discuss winter-injury concerns or schedule a USGA Course Consulting Service visit, please contact Chris Hartwiger ( or Patrick O’Brien ( .

Source: Chris Hartwiger (

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