Winter Issues In The Southwest
By Pat Gross, director, SW RegionJanuary 8, 2014
(L) Erecting a two- to three-foot vertical net
or chicken wire fence along the perimeter of a lake is one of several methods
to keep coots and Canada geese off fine-turf areas. (R) Mower and equipment
traffic on dormant turf can contribute to turf thinning and inferior playing conditions
that may linger into spring.
The top issues this winter in the Southwest include
damage caused by coots and geese, deciding whether or not to mow fairways and
rough, and water management.
Coots and Canada geese
– The return of migratory coots and Canada geese during the fall and winter
brings with it the messy fecal matter and feeding damage these birds cause. In
speaking with several superintendents, there is no single product or practice
that discourages coot and geese activity. A combination of several of the
following approaches is necessary:
- Use a variety of harassment techniques
to keep the birds moving and away from fine-turf areas. These include specially
trained dogs, noise makers and remote-controlled airplanes and boats.
- Use a tractor-mounted leaf blower to
clean areas of fecal matter, which has the added benefit of further aggravating
coots and geese.
- Erecting two- to three-foot high netting
or chicken wire fences along the perimeter of lakes makes it more difficult for
birds to enter and exit the water.
- Use of a green laser flashlight is
especially effective for harassing Canada geese. Extreme caution must be taken
when using the green laser to avoid pointing the laser into the sky where it
could interfere with aircraft or bouncing the beam off the water and into
To mow or not to mow?
Slow turf growth is typical during the winter season in all but the overseeded
regions of the Southwest, thereby reducing the need for frequent mowing of the
fairways and rough. Although mowing does a good job of breaking up divots and
producing a clean appearance, the added mower traffic can result in turf
thinning and lingering damage. This is especially true where multiple mower
passes are made in confined areas near bunkers and along fairway edges. It is
important to keep these factors in mind when deciding on the mowing frequency
that is appropriate for your golf course along with carefully training
equipment operators to avoid concentrated wear patterns.
Winter water management
– It has been an especially dry winter in the Southwest so far causing many golf
facilities to operate the irrigation system much more often than in a typical
winter. Even dormant bermudagrass and kikuyugrass need some soil moisture to
avoid winter desiccation. Frequent monitoring with soil probes and moisture
meters are effective methods to decide when and where irrigation is necessary
while conserving water.
Upcoming USGA Regional Conferences
– Please mark your calendar for the upcoming USGA regional conferences:
Monday, Jan. 13 – Southern California
Regional Conference at Tustin Ranch Golf Club, Tustin, Calif.
Monday, March 17 – Northern California
Regional Conference at Diablo Country Club, Diablo, Calif.
Information on the
USGA’s Course Consutation Service
Contact the Green Section Staff