Two consecutive abnormal winters, maybe this will be the new normal…
The highlight of this winter was the snowstorm in mid-January that left behind 30 inches of snow in three days, with a total snow cover approaching 4 feet in many places on the course. It was a great storm. One day later the melting began and it would seem we’ve been melting ever since.
The majority of the golf course has been clear since early March. Early snow melt on this golf course, in this climate, is a double-edged sword. On the positive side, we are off to a great start on aerification and conditions are already fairly dry. Being dry is also a positive for poa annua control. Vole damage is very mild this year because the rodents didn’t have late snow cover to hide under and demolish the turf. Snow mold damage is practically non-existent.
Now for the negative side. Although early snow melt seems like it should translate to coveted earlier golf play, it actually brings more peril to the greens on our golf course than having a nice blanket of snow sticking around into April. Two things tend to happen: soil temperatures actually decrease; and the plants get confused. Daytime temperatures in the forties and nighttime temperatures in the twenties have been sending mixed messages to the bentgrass on our greens for the last four weeks. The daytime temperature dictates that it is time to break dormancy so the plant starts to take in all of that easily available melt water, and then it freezes at night and the cells literally explode, killing the plant. Greens affected this year are completely different than the ones affected last year because of the completely different winter scenario. This season, greens on 7, 15, and the large putting green at the Practice Facility are the most challenged. The result will be small areas of sod on 7 and 15, and a complete resodding of the large putting green as we take this opportunity to eliminate the most poa-infested green that we currently have on property.
We’re looking forward to great weather in the upcoming forecast to finish aerification and continue on with our projects from Fall. Those include areas around the tennis courts, the project on the left side of hole 14, and tee leveling and new sod for two of the Practice Facility tees. It should be a very successful Spring with excellent early season conditions!