There is a lot of variety when it comes to winter golf in the United States. In colder parts of the country, courses may close entirely or allow golfers to brave the elements. In warmer areas, winter is often prime golf season. No matter where a course is located, balancing the benefits of winter play against the issues it may create is never easy. Careful management is required to keep winter golf from causing damage to the course that may last into spring and beyond. Whether you’re playing golf all winter or only sneaking out during brief warm spells, here are some things you should know about winter on the golf course:
Traffic control is more important than ever
Throughout the U.S., grass grows more slowly during winter than it does at other times of year, if it’s growing at all. This means that divots and ball marks heal slowly, and concentrated traffic can wear grass down to nothing. To limit the wear and tear caused by winter play, superintendents redirect cart and golfer traffic on a regular basis. Carts are also restricted to paths more frequently. Tee markers may be shifted to locations that aren’t used as often to protect primary teeing areas and prevent concentrations of fairway divots.
Putting greens may need a timeout
Protecting putting greens during winter is always a priority. Courses in cold climates may cover their greens until spring to protect them from harsh winter weather. Southern courses with bermudagrass putting greens will only cover their greens during short periods of very cold temperatures, keeping them available for play otherwise. Some courses shift all winter play to temporary greens to protect their putting surfaces, while others use them only when the risk of damage is especially high. Temporary greens may not be popular, but using them can prevent serious issues.