COURSE CARE
Spring Is Here In The Southeast March 15, 2015 By Chris Hartwiger, director, Course Consulting Service

Cold temperatures have damaged this bermudagrass fairway. However, the green grass in the divot tells us that this area will recover with warm temperatures.

Warm spring days mark not only the return of golfers, but also the resumption of active growth of warm-season turfgrasses. Just as golfers’ games are not in perfect shape, neither are golf courses in the region. This update provides a snapshot of spring golf conditions and a glimpse behind the scenes in the turf management department. Below is a review of observations noted every spring in the Southeast Region.

  • Northern Locations – Superintendents will have a clear idea if winter injury is an issue on their golf course. The extent to which winter injury has affected a golf course will dictate decisions made by the superintendent and also the time it will take the golf course to reach prime playing condition.
  • Central Locations – Winter injury is not typically a problem in this area, but the climate is warm enough to play year-round golf, prompting common comments like: “There’s no grass on our fairways” and “Where did all these divots come from?” A warm climate is a good thing for the business of golf, but the combination of heavy play and no growth takes its toll on warm-season turf.
  • Southern Locations – These are the parts of the region where winter weather is great, and winter is considered “the golf season.” Typically, the turfgrasses on these courses remain some shade of green, but any growth is far from optimum. High volumes of traffic with little recovery create beaten down turfgrass canopies with tight lies, prompting additional comments about the lack of grass and excessive divots.

Behind the scenes, golf course superintendents are ready for warm-season grasses to grow. Daytime temperatures in the 70s and 80s, along with a fertilizer application, will initiate new growth and recovery. Regular mowing will be necessary, and both the appearance of the course and the playing quality will improve weekly.

Spring turfgrass conditions are similar to a golfer’s game in the spring – neither are perfect, but with a little practice and a healthy dose of patience, both will come into their own in the months ahead.

Source: Chris Hartwiger (chartwiger@usga.org), Patrick O’Brien (patobrien@usga.org), John Foy (jfoy@usga.org), and Todd Lowe (tlowe@usga.org)

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