The Mantra Of The Winter Golfer
The Mantra of the Winter Golfer: "It Really Wasn't That Bad"
The weather patterns have been calm during the first two weeks of January. Higher than normal temperatures have given golfers hope that spring will soon be here, with mid-season conditions not far behind. The bitter truth is that it is going to get colder before it gets warmer. This means damaged grass will not recover until spring.
While it might be tolerable to walk around the course with your pants rolled up to your ankles and three sweaters keeping you warm, it probably won't be tolerable if the greens and teeing grounds are worn out to start the spring golfing season. If winter play is to occur, then temporary greens should be the norm, particularly during periods of freezing and thawing temperatures. The more uneven the putting surfaces become (from foot printing), the more likely water can collect, enhancing the potential for serious damage during low temperature extremes. Weigh the short- and long-term ramifications of playing under these conditions.
The PGA Tour season has begun, and the photos of the tournament sites make it even more difficult to wait for improved weather conditions in the northern portion of the Mid-Atlantic Region. Images of the tropical climate of Hawaii and the scenery from southern California offer glimmers of what is to come when Mother Nature provides the necessary weather for the grass to wake from winter. For grass to tolerate play, we need sunlight, longer days, and warmer temperatures. It will be a while before we enjoy these conditions consistently. We will experience periods of moderate weather that will tease the hard-core and casual golfer. For the short term, if you are lucky enough to have the course open, the greens may be very bumpy and unpredictable. If golfers play, they should focus on the process, and not the results.
Most golf course operations are running with reduced crews, focusing on manageable projects like equipment repairs, golf car fleet maintenance, drainage work, and tree pruning/removal. Recent windstorms have wreaked havoc, particularly where isolated cases of a sudden micro-burst have devastated stands of vulnerable trees. During the winter it is difficult to clean the debris from storm events when the soils are not frozen.
There are many educational opportunities for superintendents, assistants, mechanics, and spray technicians this winter. New information is being presented on subjects ranging from disease control to preventative equipment maintenance. Staying current with technology will benefit club operations. Many of these educational sessions are complimentary or available for a nominal fee. Take time to schedule and participate in educational programs that will stimulate thought about course maintenance, course presentation, and golfer relations.
Always remember the agronomists of the Mid-Atlantic Region are part of your agronomic support team. If you have a question or concern, especially now, give us a call or send an e-mail. You may contact the agronomists of the Mid-Atlantic Region, Stan Zontek ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) or Darin Bevard ( email@example.com ) at 610/ 558-9066 or Keith Happ ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) at 412/ 341-5922.