The Silver Lining

By Adam Moeller, agronomist, Northeast Region
April 29, 2014

A piece of Penn A-4 creeping bentgrass sod was added to this putting green prior to winter. The dead annual bluegrass turf surrounding the healthy creeping bentgrass strip of sod is a clear indication of differences in winter tolerance between these species.

The number of golf facilities reporting winter injury on putting greens is overwhelming. Damage ranges from a few putting greens having dead turf areas the size of a pool table to courses where all 18 putting greens are greater than 75 percent dead. Winter injury is a highly complex subject. Many variables are involved which explains why some courses were more affected than others. This being said, there has been one constant attributed to the winter injury observed this year: annual bluegrass (i.e., Poa annua). Annual bluegrass is much more susceptible to winter injury than creeping bentgrass, and the severity of damage experienced this year has many facilities contemplating long-term conversion strategies to reduce the risk of a reoccurrence of severe winter injury. A few facilities are using the opportunity to make long-term and significant improvements in the performance and reliability of their putting greens through complete reconstruction or regrassing.

For most golf facilities, overseeding creeping bentgrass into damaged areas is the only realistic option. This will reduce the risk and/or severity of winter injury in the future, assuming a high percentage of creeping bentgrass becomes established in the damaged areas. Many courses are also evaluating the growing environments surrounding putting greens and removing trees that are having detrimental impacts via shade, tree root competition, reduced air movement or any combination thereof. After all, shaded putting greens are more susceptible to winter injury than putting greens with full sun. Winter injury is frustrating, but there is always a silver lining that can be discovered amongst the damage.

To date, recovery at many golf courses has been moderate at best. Inconsistent air temperatures have resulted in soil temperatures below 50°F in many locations. Seedling germination is not likely unless soil temperatures are consistently above 50°F and preferably closer to 60°F. The use of covers or dark topdressing sand can aid in soil warming, but their effects have not overpowered the cool weather Mother Nature has dealt so far.

The month of May will be a turning point for recovery at most facilities. Golfer patience is key! Restricting play will yield the most positive results in recovery. Temporary greens should not be abandoned until the putting greens are fully healed. Playing on temporary greens now is a much better situation than playing on unhealed and damaged putting greens in July. Watch the USGA Green Section webcast Assessing Winter Injury and Promoting Turf Recovery in the Northeast Region for information regarding the best management practices for promoting a rapid and sustainable recovery from winter injury on putting greens. The Green Section Record article Winter Damage is an excellent reference for information on why putting greens experience injury and how to best limit future problems.

Source: Adam Moeller (

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service

Contact the Green Section Staff  

Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.

Rolex image

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website,, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit

AmEx image

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit

AmEx image
American Express

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit

AmEx image