Stow Acres Turf

Golf Course Maintenance News & Live Updates from @stowacresturf


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Golf in the Winter…

Although I posted this last December, it is very applicable to conditions right now. Truthfully, not much changes when winterizing the golf courses. Enjoy.

wintergreen

Wintergreen before and after.

The winter season is upon us, or is it?  We can only hope that the snow falling across the blog screen that you are reading right now would be falling on the actual golf course some time soon.  Both courses are fully winterized, well, minus the snow accumulation.  The irrigation systems have been blown out, drains have been flushed/open, accessories have been removed for refurbishing, snow mold applications have been applied to greens/tees/fairways, Winter Green has been applied to all 39 greens, and two pin positions have been cut on the front 9 of both courses.  Yes, two pin positions.  I got this brilliant idea from Russ Heller,  a fellow Superintendent here in Massachusetts.  Russ also has a great blog seen here: William Devine Golf Course at Franklin Park.  Well, the theory behind it is to divert foot traffic on frozen/dormant greens surfaces.  Closing the greens or providing temporary greens is not something we do at Stow Acres.  This is where snow is helpful in covering the greens, but, in order to preserve playing conditions for the Spring season until snow falls, we cut two pins.  We will leave pins in both hole locations allowing the golfer to pick whichever hole location they desire.  Once on the green, traffic will be split between both hole locations.  We’re doing this primarily because we suffered minor turf damage last season from repetitive foot traffic around one hole location pictured below.

Foot traffic damage during winterThe turf does heal once the weather gets warmer, but as you can imagine, these spots took quite a bit longer to recover.  Our assistant superintendent, Kevin Bracken, had a great idea to place modified greens covers over the trampled spots once we could cut the cup in a new position.  This certainly accelerated recovery.

modified greens cover over hole

Currently, there is no “real” snow in the immediate forecast.  However, with the cold temperatures becoming more consistent, we will be covering both practice greens tomorrow to ensure great putting conditions for the Spring.  If you plan on playing until it snows, please be mindful of the frozen turf.  Greens are most susceptible, so keeping pull carts in the rough and walking on the greens as little as possible will help preserve the surface.  I will leave you with a picture of what even foot traffic/pull-cart can do to fairway turf during a frozen morning.  Stay warm, play well, and have a great holiday season!

frost damage

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent

 

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Snow on a golf course is a good thing?!

Snow pack on a golf course is a VERY good thing! Up until this past Friday, we were struggling to keep more than 2 inches covering our dormant turf. When the turf is exposed for prolonged periods of time in the winter months, it becomes susceptible to desiccation. Another benefit of having snow cover on the golf course is that it provides a nice warm blanket for the turf. Under the snow, the temperature never drops below or rises above 32F. Although still on the cold side for grass, the turf can sustain these temperatures quite nicely, as opposed to the extreme lows we saw at the end of January. When the snow covers up, the plant doesn’t need to consistently guess which period it should be going through. Although this article below discusses winter injury, Stow Acres is in great shape entering mid-February. We just got our snow cover a brief time ago, and the purpose of the article below is to illustrate the importance for constant monitoring by a professional turf team consistently throughout the winter months. For a more detailed explanation, please read the following article posted by the USGA: Snow.

OUR EXPERTS EXPLAIN

Experts Explain: Snow Covering On Golf Course Greens
Posted: 3/9/2010

By USGA Experts

We’re Starting To Get Concerned About How Long The Snow Is Hanging Around On Our Golf Course Greens. What Should Be Our Top Priorities?
Snow cover is not necessarily a bad thing, but several factors need to be evaluated. The following actions should be considered as we enter the final stretch of the winter season.

• Begin checking under covers and ice layers for the presence of anaerobic conditions (a distinctive sulfur odor indicating dying grass). On areas of concern for potential damage, pull turf plugs and bring them inside to see if they start to green-up when placed in a warm, sunny window .
• Make plans to lift or vent under impermeable covers if a smell is detected. With no smell, there’s no problem at this point.
• Begin to monitor temperatures under impermeable cover systems, as snow cover is lost and the sun’s strength increases. Start the process of removing the impermeable covers once temperatures beneath the covers reach the 41°F-43°F range consistently. Plant hardiness declines rapidly at those temperatures. Use a permeable cover to protect the exposed turf while it re-acclimates to the new environment.
• Initiate the process to remove ice sheets if an anaerobic condition is detected at the surface of annual bluegrass greens. The recent rains and warmer temperatures in the forecast may offer a window to do so for some, while the wet, heavy snows will make that more difficult further north and west. There is always a risk associated with that action, but there are few options if the anaerobic condition is detected. Use a permeable cover or blow snow back over the recently cleared surfaces to protect the exposed turf, if necessary.
• Keep an open channel of communication with golfers so that they are aware of golf course conditions during the transition to spring.

Winter injury is a very complex event, controlled by many variables that are a long way from being completely understood. The techniques that are used to protect the turf are improving, but are not, and probably never will be, perfect. There is always a chance that you can do everything right, and still be wrong and suffer winter injury. The best we can do is to try to identify the specific causes of injury and then address as many of those factors as possible with the available management options. This reconfirms why it is a good idea to periodically pull grass plugs throughout the winter, especially following weather events when the turf may have been hydrated and then subjected to very cold temperatures.

Thanks for your support and understanding this year. We look forward to opening the golf course as soon as nature allows. See you on the course!

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent