After a long winter, the South course is open for play today. Tees, fairways, and greens are cleaned and playable. Cups have been cut, tee markers placed, trash barrels out, and a surprising opening with carts being able to go on the back 9. Even though there is only one temporary green on 3 and tees pushed forward to a par 3 on 4, nature was pretty good to us. We actually spent a few minutes during lunch today discussing past years that have dealt us torrential rains, heavy snowfall at the end of March, and even the year that had 7″ of snow all winter (leaving us with crazy desiccation on some greens). This year, however, there was a decent melt out during the third week of January. That allowed most of the snow to clear, freeing us from anaerobic concern, but another snow storm shortly followed packing more snow onto the turf. We dealt with a very slow melt over the past month, and although this was good for keeping soil saturation down, it allowed snow/ice to linger on the turf (especially in the shade). Despite the diligent effort of our dedicated staff applying 100s of pounds of sunflower seeds to ice on greens, 3 South green is a temporary green strictly because of turf weakness. It sits in the shade and is surrounded by some massive pines. It has a few pockets on the green, mainly comprised of Poa annua, that collected water this winter, turned to ice, and then suffocated the plant. However, if you get real close, there are many baby Poa annua plants on the rebound. I am confident that within a few weeks, 3 South green will have a healthy, green sheen to it. You may also notice this minor discoloration in a few other greens as the Poa annua is slow to rebound from a long, snow-packed winter. These greens will regain color once the turf breaks dormancy and microbes become more active in the soil. 4 South tee has been moved up to the 200 yard marker and will be playing as a par 3. As usual in the spring, the fairway on 4 is very wet, and we would like you to avoid losing your ball in the middle of the fairway if you played off the normal tee. This fairway is actually level with a peat bog. When the water table is high or the ground is thawing from winter, this fairway is pretty soggy.
The North course is melting out nicely and will be ready for play sometime next week. We are happy to report that the turf on the North is a little healthier (not as many pockets on the greens). When it does open, there will not be any temporary greens or tees. All that is left over there is course setup and course cleanup, and there is a lot of it. We will be doing our best over the next week to bring you two clean and playable golf courses.
One last thing I would like to mention as a hurdle from the long, snow-packed winter is gray snow mold. 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 play on 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 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.
Thank you for your continued support, as I enter my 7th season as the golf course superintendent. We are excited to begin another golf season and very eager to get back into the regular routine of golf course maintenance. Play well! See you on the course!
Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent