We just came in from slogging around in the slush outside and decided that a Reserve Reminder article was in order. We have been blessed with some great weather this winter, but have also seen some conditions that would only make a penguin happy! We have been completely closed or intermittently closed most of the past week and we figure the golf shop has been fielding a lot of calls regarding golf course playability. We thought this would be a good opportunity to discuss some of the factors that determine whether the golf courses will open for play.
As we’ve stated all along, the long-term health and playability of the golf courses is the most important element of our decision making. As I’m sure you all know; no two days on the golf course are alike. Some days a hard, heavy frost will break quickly, while other days we can arrive at the golf course, get the crew going, and then have frost stop us in our tracks. These variances in weather patterns can also lead to some confusion regarding the playability of the courses. For example, two days may be identical as far as temperature and humidity, but have two entirely different impacts on the golf course. I’ve spent many hours trying to determine why the results vary and have only decided that Mother Nature is fickle!
With all the subtle differences aside, ultimately, we must determine whether golfer and/or maintenance traffic will create negative impacts on the courses. The main area of our focus is obviously our putting surfaces. We are conservative with our decision making when there is potential for damage on the greens. We feel that this preemptive approach has helped create the wonderful putting surfaces we’ve experienced this season. We’d like to address just a couple situations that keep the golf courses closed when some feel they should be available.
The worst scenario from our standpoint is when the greens are frozen solid in the morning, but begin to thaw out throughout the day. When the roots are frozen, but the top of the plant is thawed out, it creates an opportunity for the leaf blades and thatch to slip under foot, which in turn, causes “root shear.” Another similar scenario is when we receive rain after a freeze event. This situation creates a “bath tub effect,” where the ground is frozen and the rainfall accumulates on the surface until it has the chance to thaw the soil profile and percolate through the greens. This phenomenon also creates traffic damage due to the excessive moisture in the soil profile.
As stated earlier, we want to provide excellent course conditions throughout the entire year. Sometimes we need to make sacrifices in the short-term to ensure long-term plant health. As always, if this email has created any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Mike Turner, Director of Agronomy