West: Unusual Winter Should Lead to Interesting Spring March 21, 2016 By Pat Gross, USGA

Spring snowmelt on golf courses has already begun. However, late-season snowfall may still delay course openings. (USGA)

Golfers in the West can expect a wild time this spring, following a winter of above-average temperatures and heavy precipitation in many areas. Here is a brief summary of expected conditions throughout the region:

Desert Southwest: 

Late winter and early spring are the best times to be a golfer in the Desert Southwest. Golfers will be playing on perennial ryegrass that was overseeded last fall and is now in peak condition. As spring moves into summer, conditions in the fairways and rough will become more inconsistent as the overseeded ryegrass declines and the underlying bermudagrass begins to grow.

Intermountain Region: 

In general, temperatures in the region have been above average and even mountain courses are charging their irrigation systems and beginning normal maintenance. Warm temperatures mean that snow has melted from most golf course areas receiving direct sunlight, but late-season snowfall is common in the high elevations and could still delay course openings this spring. Mornings are still cool, which means frost delays will be common throughout the Intermountain Region this spring. Golfers should also expect to see some lingering winter-pest damage in the fairways and rough as they enjoy early season rounds.

Pacific Northwest: 

The period from December through February saw the wettest conditions on record in the Pacific Northwest. If that trend continues, golfers can expect wet conditions throughout the spring. However, courses that have been sand-topdressing their fairways on a regular basis will enjoy drier conditions.

Coastal Region: 

Warm winter temperatures and late rainfall are giving turf growth a jump-start throughout the region. Late-season rains also helped turf recovery in many areas damaged by drought. In southern parts of the region, bermudagrass and kikuyugrass fairways are growing ahead of schedule and displaying good playing quality. 

Pat Gross is the regional director, west region, for the USGA Green Section. Email him at

What to Watch for This Spring