SE Region Shivers From Coldest Weather In A Decade
|Covers are the ideal strategy to help prevent winter injury issues during extremely cold weather events on bermudagrass putting greens.|
A cold Arctic blast has settled over the nation, including the Southeast Region. For our area, this may be the coldest blast since the mid-1990’s, and many golf course superintendents have never experienced what to do with this type of weather event.
At this time last year, an update was written to alert superintendents and course officials about steps to take to help protect bermudagrass putting greens from cold weather injury. Winter injury can happen when it gets this cold on either painted, non-painted, or overseeded bermudagrass putting greens. This update is being written to encourage golf courses with bermudagrass putting greens to begin mentally preparing should the need for covers or other measures be taken.
A few ideas for consideration:
- Make sure covers are in position at this time. If available, use double covers at sites with the coldest temperatures. Otherwise, a blanket of straw or pine needles over the green and placement of a cover seems to also work just fine at the coldest green sites.
- Have plans in place for labor to cover or uncover as needed.
- If a sufficient number of covers are not available, try to get as many putting greens covered as possible. In the event of winter injury, these covered greens could be used as a source of plant material. Given the demand for ultradwarfs, most of the grass available next summer may already be spoken for.
- In the worst case scenario with no covers and really cold temperatures, consider icing the putting greens. Will Arnett of Columbus CC in Columbus, MS has used this technique with good success and was kind enough to share it with us. Keep in mind the practice of icing reflects the "art" of greenkeeping and results may be site specific.
Will Arnett, CGCS, Columbus CC, Columbus, MS, Putting Green Icing Tips
- Apply four cycles of five minutes of water at 10:30 pm, 12:30, 2:30 and 4:30 am when temperatures are ≤25 degrees F. This will form about 1/2" ice.
- The ice remains through the morning hours until temperatures warm into the 40s.
- Lack of oxygen can be a concern, but the chance of having 72 consecutive hours below freezing in his location is low.
- You need sand-based greens, and it is advantageous not to have to use full-circle heads.
- Golfers get to play the entire day of covering. After the freeze, the time it takes for thaw is similar to what it took to remove covers.
If the USGA Green Section can be of additional assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.