Spring is an exciting time for golfers everywhere. Unfortunately, our enthusiasm for playing golf in the spring often outpaces the return of normal course conditions. Spring is a time of transition and there can definitely be some ups and downs when it comes to playability. Here are a few things to expect on the course this spring
The grass has some catching up to do
Grasses on most golf courses have been growing slowly, or not at all, for most of the winter. It will take some time before they really get going in the spring and that will have an impact on playing conditions. Things like density, smoothness and divot recovery all depend on active grass growth, but that can’t start until soil temperatures reach a certain level. Unfortunately, warm weather arrives before the soil temperatures catch up, so golfers may be ready for midseason playing conditions before the grass can deliver.
The course has gone soft
In many areas, golf courses can be a little soggy in the spring. Whether it’s from melting snow or winter rains, the soil is often full of moisture in the spring and it will be slow to dry out until temperatures climb and days get longer – and the first few warm days won’t be enough. Less bounce and roll in the fairways, softer greens and some cart restrictions are all a normal part of spring golf.
Welcome to the jungle
Once the grass really gets growing in spring it can be hard for superintendents to keep up with mowing, especially if they are short on staff. The change from slow to rapid growth can happen seemingly overnight and there is often a period of time when the rough is excessively thick and clippings abound. It may be tough to find and play shots in the rough for a few weeks in the spring, but things will usually settle down after the initial flush of growth.
Expect some disruption
Spring is a popular time for cultural practices like aeration and topdressing as maintenance teams get their courses ready for the busy season ahead. Don’t be surprised if there is some disruption on key playing areas. Recovery time is usually pretty quick, but if cool weather lingers then the impact of these practices may be noticeable for longer than planned. Just know that a little disruption now will translate to better conditions throughout the year.
A golf course is a great place to be in the spring. Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, the weather is mild – a perfect time to play golf. There will be some bumps in the road when it comes to course conditions, especially early in the season, but that’s no reason not to enjoy every minute of spring golf. Be patient with the course – and your rusty golf swing – both will be in midsummer form before you know it.