COURSE CARE
Climate Change Or Just Another Weird Year? February 27, 2015

Climate Change Or Just Another Weird Year?

By David A. Oatis, Director
February 6, 2008

Mild temperatures in some portions of the region have allowed for extremely heavy winter play. This may be good for golfers, but winter play on putting greens can cause a host of problems, most of which do not become evident until the following summer stress period. Winter play can be a very emotional issue for some, but keep in mind that it causes turf injury at a time of year when there cannot be any recovery. Thus, the damage is cumulative and can be significant. Utilizing temporary greens is a reasonable alternative for many as it allows golfers to get exercise and protects the most critical and fragile portion of the golf course, the putting greens.

In other parts of the region, cold temperatures have recently given way to balmy temperatures combined with rain. The result is turf losing a portion of its winter hardiness, but how much is impossible to say. Nonetheless, turf that was fully dormant last week will likely green-up this week due to the mild temperatures and rain. This will create the possibility of winter injury. All we need now is a few more days of balmy temperatures and some rain to set up the turf for damage. A sharp drop in temperature following these wet warming trends is all that is needed. Annual bluegrass that is subjected to 45-50° temperatures combined with free moisture for 2-3 days, can lose 50% of its winter hardiness, and this can leave it vulnerable to direct low temperature kill, desiccation, and crown hydration injury. One sharp drop in temperature (or multiple less severe drops) can then kill it. Let's keep our fingers crossed that temperatures head south gradually over the next few days.

Last week's Golf Industry Show signals the start of the new season for many, and we are already scheduling Turf Advisory Service visits. The grass may not be growing, but this is a great time to review and fine tune tree work and to develop strategies for combating the various pest problems we face in the region. This also is a good time to rest and recharge.

As always, don't hesitate to call our office if you have questions or concerns. We look forward to seeing you at the next conference.

Source: David Oatis, doatis@usga.org or 610-515-1660