It has been great to see so many people enjoying the driving range over the past week as the weather has continued to be exceptional for the end of March. Whether you have been at the Club and taken the opportunity to walk the property or not, please read on for further information on the continuing preparations on the golf course.
Greens aerification was completed on Thursday, March 25. The completion of this practice prior to the heavy rain we received last week was incredibly beneficial to begin the recovery of the greens.
Tees were completed today – another instrumental step prior to the beginning of the golf season. This includes applying additional sand to the newly sodded tees from the fall re-levelling project. The additional sand will firm up the new surfaces and ensure favourable playing conditions when they open with the golf course.
16 Green Winter Damage
The 16 green has a history of damage coming out of winter. Typically, we see some level of winterkill every three or four years. Although we cannot be certain, the damage likely occurred in February. At that time, we experienced a significant warm-up trend, followed by a deep freeze. The challenges that face this location are both shade and topographical, leading to the same locations being affected consistently.
In an effort to reduce damage, each fall we complete the removal of sumac trees on the hill to the immediate left of the green. This removal is important for the site through the year, but especially in the fall, allowing an increase in sunlight. With limited sunlight, the turf cannot produce the proper levels of sugars and carbohydrates to sustain it through unfavourable winters.
Another method used to help in shade locations is the use of covers. We use several on the course, including the 16 green. This also helps to keep water from melting snow from running down the bank, then freezing on the surface of the green and creating damage. When the tarp was installed prior to winter, we also placed the edge of the tarp under a strip of sod running the entire length of the left side of the green. This was done to reduce the likelihood of water running off the hill and getting underneath the tarp. As soon as the warmer weather arrived, we also began to shovel the snow and ice off the tarp to reduce the risk of freezing as much as possible.
On Monday, March 29 we aerified, seeded and rolled the damaged areas. This is the same process that was completed in the spring of 2014, following the widespread winterkill damage on the greens. Further incorporation of bentgrass seed into the green will decrease the chances of damage in similar future events.
We are also using portions of an impermeable tarp and pinning them down to cover the damaged areas. This will increase the soil temperatures faster than if they were left exposed to the elements. The sooner that the soil temperatures increase the faster the seed will begin to germinate.
There is a small area of similar damage at the front of 6 green. This location has also had a tarp applied to increase soil temperatures. The same inputs have been utilized to return the section to the desired turf health and conditions.
Once the weather becomes more favourable and the seed has begun germinating, we will transition to a perforated tarp to keep the new seedlings warm, while also allowing more direct sunlight and air exchange. We are manipulating mother nature using a variety of techniques to expedite the recovery process as quickly as possible.
Following the rain events and the resulting increase in moisture levels, the turf has begun to come out of winter dormancy and growth is occurring. With the return to winter-like weather later this week, we will be waiting to cut turf until following, what is hopefully, the last cold stretch of the winter.
Bunker cleanout of winter debris, depth checking of sand and the addition of any required sand has also begun. This is an important step prior to the start of the season to ensure the safety of all players and the consistency while playing.
The greens staff continue to work diligently at preparing the course for opening and recovery from winter damage. Please remember to look next week for further updates. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.
Course and Property Manager