Is Winter Over Yet?

By Adam Moeller, agronomist, Northeast Region
March 17, 2014

Winter injury is frustrating because there are many complex variables involved. Recovering from winter injury can be equally frustrating, but the use of temporary greens and open communication with golfers on what to expect will yield the most successful outcome.

Mother Nature brought a good old-fashioned winter to golf courses in the Northeast Region this year, and many golf courses in northern locations are still covered with snow and ice. There is continued concern for winter injury given the weak, frail state of turf that has been subjected to prolonged ice cover. However, it is still too early to tell the true extent of any damage caused by the severe winter weather, but planning for the worst and hoping for the best has become a common theme at many facilities throughout the region. Here are a few tips going forward:

  • As the snow and ice clear, charge the irrigation system as soon as possible. The turf is extremely low on carbohydrate reserves at the moment and low soil moisture, even in cool temperatures, can be lethal.
  • If damage is observed, the first and most important step is to limit traffic as much as possible. Temporary greens are never welcomed by golfers, but they will dramatically improve the speed and success of recovery from winter damage.

Snow and ice have cleared from most golf courses in the southern part of the region, but the soils remain saturated, in most instances, and will partially dictate course opening dates. Debris cleanup from the winter storms has also begun, but this work is far from complete at most courses. Golfers can expect courses to open soon, but expectations should be adjusted given the amount of work needed to clean up after the brutal winter the region just experienced.

From a maintenance standpoint, the agronomic calendar may have to be adjusted based on the weather. This will most noticeably affect the scheduling of spring core aeration and could cause delays in the completion of course projects. Forcing projects or agronomic inputs during less than ideal weather is a risk with serious long-term consequences. Golfer inconvenience should not be a major factor when weighing these types of decisions.

The final Green Section educational opportunity in the region is rapidly approaching. The New England Green Section Seminar will be held March 25 at the Andover Country Club in Andover, Mass. If you would like to attend this educational seminar, with specific topics related to golf course management for club officials and superintendents, click here. This year’s Schedule of Events will run from 8:20 a.m. through 12:40 p.m. and includes a light breakfast and a buffet lunch. Educational points will also be awarded to attendees.

Source: Adam Moeller (amoeller@usga.org)

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service

Contact the Green Section Staff 

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