Winter Weather Continues To Confound

By David A. Oatis, director, Northeast Region
March 5, 2014

Removing plugs of turf from frozen putting greens is difficult, but it can be accomplished with a hole saw.


Most areas of the region dodged the most recent storm, but snow and ice cover remains in place at most courses in the region. Northeast region agronomists Jim Skorulski and Adam Moeller each addressed the topic of winter injury in our most recent updates, but the subject remains uppermost on the minds of many turf managers. We are continuing to receive numerous calls regarding the duration of ice cover and the merits of removing it. Many variables affect the decision, so the purpose of this update is to recount what we know at this point in time.

  • The duration of ice cover ranges from 20-30 days in some parts of the region to over 50-60 days in other areas.
  • Superintendents are continuing to remove and incubate plugs of turf from their putting greens, but thus far, damage has been fairly minimal. However, odors are being detected under ice layers, and this is the telltale sign that anoxia could become a problem.
  • Some of the damage that has been identified likely occurred in late December and is not necessarily a result of extended ice cover.
  • It is advisable to continue to check plugs from representative areas of greens every week or two, checking for turf health and anoxia.
  • Some courses have already removed some of the snow cover in order to speed up the clearing process once warmer temperatures arrive. However, removing snow and ice layers is very difficult, and it can be risky. If toxic gasses are building up under the ice to the point that turf is suffering injury, it may be the best course of action. However, removing snow cover too early and subjecting the turf to bitter temperatures or more freeze thaw cycles can also guarantee damage.

The truth is that, for some golf courses, there may not be a good option. Leave the ice on longer and suffer damage from anoxia; or remove it and risk physical damage from removal and injury from low temperatures or crown hydration. Since conditions vary widely throughout the region, it is impossible to make across-the-board recommendations. Feel free to call our office if you’d like to discuss what your best options might be.

The final education opportunities of the winter are approaching.

  • A USGA Regional Meeting will be held March 13 at the Country Club of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y. To learn more about the conference and to register, click here. The event code is 0311.
  • USGA Green Section Winter Injury Webcast. Held online on March 14 at 1:00 PM EDT. To register for this webcast click here.
  • The Adirondack Regional Conference takes place March 19 at High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid, N.Y.
  • The Metropolitan Golf Association /USGA Green Chairman Seminar will be held March 20 at North Hills Country Club in Manhasset, N.Y.
  • The New England Green Section Seminar will be held March 25 at the Andover Country Club in Andover, Mass.

We have worked hard to put educational programs together that will appeal to superintendents, general managers, golf professionals and course officials. We hope to see you there!

Best of luck for a successful 2014 season, and as always, give us a call if we can help you and your facility.

Source: David Oatis (

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