The Best Laid Plans…

By David Oatis, Director, Northeast Region Green Section
March 17, 2010

Picture: Pockets of turf with poor surface drainage, combined with extended ice cover and temperature fluctuations during the melt down, are extremely susceptible to injury.

Graph: The temperature graph illustrates a potentially lethal temperature fluctuation that occurred over a three-day period in the Boston area. Fluctuations occurring after the plants become hydrated are especially lethal.

Golfers are getting anxious; the mowers are sharpened and the plans have been laid… now we just need a little weather. I guess it’s about the same every year, but Mother Nature always holds the cards, and that is something to keep in mind as we get ready to start the 2010 golf season.

What do we have to look forward to in the Northeast Region? Here are a few facts and a couple of predictions:

  • It’s been a snowy winter, and snow accumulation records have been broken in some areas. Although most don’t want to admit it, a late winter storm is still a possibility!
  • Snow and ice accumulation have wreaked havoc with turf in different areas of the region. Golf courses in Toronto and surrounding areas again have sustained damage, and the same can be said for courses in sections of New England.
  • Despite our best efforts, winter injury remains a threat; the only predictable aspect of winter injury is that it is so unpredictable. It can happen early or late in the winter, and it can occur whether greens were not covered or covered with either solid or permeable covers.
  • If you suspect damage and have not brought turf plugs inside to incubate, now would be a good time to do so, as it helps assess the extent of the damage.
  • If damage has occurred, golfers need to know as soon as possible. Providing an idea of the proposed recovery plan can ease concerns.
  • With all of the snow this winter, snow mold has been evident on just about every course we have visited in recent weeks.
  • Recent high winds brought down more debris, and the soaking rains have left most courses so wet that further cleanup will have to wait until things dry out a bit.

So what does all this mean? Spring playing conditions may be affected at some courses. Rushing weak, damaged greens into play too quickly usually is the worst thing to do, as it slows recovery and sets up the turf for even more problems later in the season. Assessing damage, implementing a recovery plan, and giving it time to produce results are the steps needed now. Oh, and if Murphy’s Law comes into play, courses that have suffered damage will likely experience a cool, wet spring…

2010 Turf Advisory Service Visits

TAS visit requests are arriving daily, so give us a call and sign up now for a visit. Don’t forget, the $500 prepayment discount ends May 15.

Upcoming Educational Opportunities

USGA MGA Green Chairman Education Series
Wednesday March 24
Willow Ridge CC, Harrison, NY

The New England Golf Summit
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Andover Country Club, Andover, MA

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

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