Friday, April 20, 2018

Course Update: Sprinter?

Snow on April 7th!?

Last month, I wrote a short post about how the mild temperatures of spring were signaling all the Redbuds, Forsythia and Pear trees to bloom and how the turf growing season would be just around the corner. it turns out, Mother Nature had other plans.  As I sit here today, the spring bloom has come and gone, but our Bermuda turf has actually taken a big step backwards into winter dormancy over the past few weeks.  We were more green going into April than we are right now.  This is due, in large part, to multiple frosts, and a deep freeze of 25 degrees on the 7th accompanied by about an inch of snow.  In fact, April has been so cold that, so far, we've had 9 morning lows at 32 degrees, or lower, out of the first 20 days of April.  This winter was by most accounts dry and quite cold at times.  When this happens, winter injury on Bermuda begins to be a concern.  I'll admit that winterkill was a frequent topic amongst area superintendents this winter, but despite our concerns, the consensus was that while we were monitoring it closely, no one had seen any evidence of widespread injury.  We seem to have come out of winter largely unscathed, however, we are not without our scars.  There are a few areas on collars that I'm not optimistic about.  We will monitor these areas closely and make a determination for replacing the sod in the coming weeks.  In the mean time, our staff will do everything they can to minimize mechanical and chemical stresses on our collars to assist in their recovery. 

Speaking of recovery, as you are likely aware, our greens have still not fully recovered from core aeration back in late March.  Although recovery from Spring aeration inherently takes longer than in the Fall, we are definitely behind schedule.  This difference in recovery is largely due to soil, and air, temperatures being much higher in the Fall and therefore plant growth is more aggressive.  Having said that, I typically expect Spring recovery to take 14-21 days and we are at about 90% recovery after 27 days.  Greens can take 10-14 days in the Fall to fully recover. 

Winter injury on #10
The good news is that these cold temperatures can't last forever.  The one silver lining to all this cold weather is that since it has restricted Bermuda growth, we have more time to hire staff and get them trained.  We are currently at about 50% staffing and these cold temps have been a bit of a blessing in disguise.  Filling out the rest of our team is one of my top priorities right now and I feel confident we will get staffed before mid-May.

April 4th
Besides spending time training new staff on mowing, our greenskeepers have been busy preparing the golf course each day for tournaments.  This is the busiest time of year for school tournaments, as their season is quite short.  It is not uncommon to have 2-3 tournaments a week during late March through April.  Once we get past early May, the school events will cease and we will phase over to corporate and fundraising tournaments for the remainder of the season.

While our focus remains on daily conditions and tournament preparations, we are shifting our attention to early summer.  There are still many tasks to be completed to prepare the golf course for a busy summer season.  Over the next few months, the grounds staff will be very busy applying fertilizers and plant protectants, performing cultural practices to various surfaces, and working into our weekly routine.

Spring is always an exciting time of year on the golf course with plenty of suprises!  Summer is coming, and we'll be ready!  As always, we look forward to seeing you on the course!

New temporary lake on #9 fairway after 4 inches of rain March 26th


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