Today is the first day that it truly feels like the golf season is around the corner. It is 50 degrees, the sun is out, and I’m sure most of you are eager to start playing golf again. I spoke to a friend in the industry yesterday, and he said that a golf course in Hudson, NH actually opened yesterday at noon. Unfortunately we cannot say the same for Stow Acres. There is actually up to four inches of snow in some areas out there on the course. The back nine South still has many holes with snow across the fairways, greens, and sand traps. Holes 11 – 15 North still have snow covering almost the entire hole. This weather will certainly help the melting factor, but it will be slow as these areas are typical to melt last. Surrounded by trees, little air circulation, and little sunlight are all factors in slowing the melting process down. I am happy to report that the turf in exposed areas appears to be very healthy. We are eager to get back on the course ourselves; in fact, we have spent most of last week cleaning up trees, collecting and refurbishing course accessories, and preparing areas to be hydro-seeded with fescues. The rain two weeks ago certainly left us with big puddles, but not too much of a mess on either course. Certainly some areas may have some evidence of gray snow mold, but the turf will quickly grow out of the disease.
Some of you may be wondering what gray snow mold is or even why the turf is green in some areas and brown in others as you drive by the facility. Gray snow mold is a fungal pathogen that lies dormant in the surface layer of the turf until the proper conditions allow for the disease to begin to grow. If snow cover occurs for more than 45 – 60 days and the area is extremely moist, snow mold spores may start to reproduce and form a 3 – 12 inch patch. Mainly a leaf blade disease, the turf will quickly grow out once the temperatures warm up and soil microbial activity becomes active. A spring fertilizer application will also help get the turf growing, and a mower will easily cut off the infected leaf blades. You can also look for this disease in your home lawns as the snow starts to melt. Do not be alarmed. Some of you may notice that some of your turf is actually brown. For most, the turf is lying dormant until the soil temperatures warm up. A late March/early April fertilizer application of a balanced nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium ratio will give your lawn a nice jump start this spring.
Please stay tuned, as I will keep you updated on the golf course conditions, but I will also highlight proper timing for your home lawn applications. Some of these will include crabgrass pre-emergence, grub control, and just basic fertilizer applications. Three simple steps: feed it, water it, mow it.
Hopefully we will see you soon on the course!
-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent