Last Friday (April 13) I thought I had it all figured out as my blog was ready to be published outlining our schedule for having the course prepared for Members’ Opening Day next week. I was obviously over optimistic or naïve to think the storm that hit us over the weekend wasn’t going to be too bad. Instead, we received about 5 cm of snow/ice followed by 45 mm of rain. As a result of this recent storm, we now find ourselves an additional week behind a schedule that was already delayed by the unusually cold spring we’ve experienced so far.
I’d like to take this opportunity to provide an update on how the course appears to have overwintered, flood cleanup efforts and our schedule to get the golf course ready for play as quickly as possible when all of this snow finally melts.
Even though the calendar suggests we should be golfing, the weather this month has had other plans as it seems that winter just isn’t quite ready to move on yet. Unfortunately, as a result of this poor weather we find ourselves about three to four weeks behind where we should be for this time of the year. Typically, by this time the turf has emerged from dormancy, we’ve cut all areas of the golf course a couple of times, and aerification has been completed.
Currently, as most areas of the golf course are still dormant there has been no need to cut yet. The cold weather hasn’t been helping as we’ve regularly had overnight lows near the negative double digits and most days barely make it above freezing.
Although this weather has not allowed greens staff to prepare the playing surfaces, we have been busy on winter cleanup as well as addressing areas impacted by January’s river flooding. As of today, all affected bunkers have been repaired and refilled with clean sand, all debris has been removed and all areas requiring sod have been prepped and are ready for new sod as soon as sod is available. Our expectations are that all sod will be installed prior to course opening.
As we read this blog the big questions on most peoples’ minds are how will we go about getting the course ready for opening, what will the timeline be, and what kind of conditions can we expect after opening?
Week of April 16
Following the winter storm, we’ve impatiently been waiting for the snow to melt. As of today, we are hoping to bring staff back on Friday to begin cleanup of tree debris as a result of the freezing rain and high winds over the weekend. This will be our third time cleaning the golf course in as many weeks.
Week of April 23
During this week we will be focused on getting our first cuts in as well as beginning the aerification process on greens and tees. Please don’t forget, finishing aerification now means there will be no further interruption to the putting surfaces until our scheduled fall aerification following Thanksgiving.
Week of April 30
Following aerification we will re-focus our efforts on course opening preparations, which includes preparing the bunkers for the season, applying fertilizers, charging the irrigation system, opening the course washrooms and Halfway House as well as installing course accessories such as ball washers, benches, etc.
Finally, we are hoping that some much-needed warmer temperatures will promote growth and recovery following aerification, allowing the greens to heal improving smoothness, firmness and ultimately green speed.
Based on the above-mentioned factors, we are expecting to open the golf course on the third or fourth of May. As we get a better handle on course conditions and the long range forecast we will be able to more accurately predict the exact opening day.
Please know that the greens staff will do everything in their power to complete all tasks as quickly and efficiently as possible to open the golf course in the best condition possible. Given the abnormally cold spring and recent snow, we should expect that turf conditions on the golf course will not be up to the conditions that we should expect for this time of the year. Rest assured, the turf is healthy and all necessary practices and inputs are in place, we just need to patiently wait for Mother Nature to catch up and conditions should quickly fall in line.
The driving range will open for play before the golf course. At this point, an opening date has not been selected yet. As always, for this time of the year play will be from the mats. As much as we all dislike the mats, it’s important that we refrain from using the turf until the soil temperatures reach 50°F. The warmer soil temperatures are necessary for germinating seed and generating regrowth of divots. If we start hitting from the grass too early we’ll be going through turf faster than we can regenerate, which would likely result in us running out of suitable hitting space.
We typically reach the soil temperature threshold by the May long weekend. If soils warm up sooner we’ll be on the grass sooner.
Wind Storm Damage
During the wind storm on April 4 we did lose some trees on the property. Unfortunately, the most notable tree lost was the leaning pine on the right side of 8 fairway. At this point we have decided to leave the 20’ stem intact as it still serves as a good target from the tee.