Get Up for the Coming Winter!

By Larry Gilhuly, director, Northwest Region
October 28, 2010

From west to east and north to south, trying times were had by many in 2010.  Pacific Northwest golf courses suffered from severe turf damage last winter, both west and east of the Cascade mountain range; however, with recovery can come the annoying trait of short-term memory loss by players.  Since the human memory can sometimes be a little less-than-effecive, the purpose of this update is to provide a reminder of what happened and how to minimize duplication this winter should nature decide to throw us another curveball.  Rather than being down about the end of warm weather and good playing conditions, let’s get up for the upcoming winter.  More specifically, let’s set the mowing heights up a little higher on putting green mowers.

As winter approaches there is no question that mowing heights need to be raised, regardless of your location.  The simple act of raising mowing heights, beginning after fall aeration, immediately provides a bonus of deeper and healthier root systems.  The equation is simple – higher mowing heights = deeper roots = improved winter survival.  When faced with year-round play and expectations, putting green mowing heights, especially for Poa annua,need to be raised well above the normal 0.125” range.  This is especially true if very cold weather once again occurs in western Washington, Oregon and British Columbia and the rest of the Pacific Northwest.  The desire for fast greens in the winter can be fulfilled with putting green rollers and the return to hole locations that are near the perimeters of the greens or on slopes in excess of 3%.


As you prepare for the upcoming winter, remember these simple reminders:


  1. Green speeds do not need to be fast during the winter months.
  2. The deep freeze of last winter caused massive turf damage on many golf courses in the Pacific Northwest.
  3. Raising mowing heights is a simple way to minimize the potential for winter damage.
  4. Green speeds can be achieved with rolling and placing holes in normally unused areas.


Let’s get up for winter to reduce the potential for getting down next spring!


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