If you put much trust in long-range weather forecasts, then warmer temps are on the way next week. Despite the coming “Snownami” predicted for our area in a few days, the long range forecast shows a steady warming, which will melt through the ice sheets on the course sooner, rather than later. So with that forecast, we are shifting our focus from the green surfaces to the drainage areas, because there is going to be a lot of water in need of some place to go. We’ve been keeping paths open to most greens over the past month, so we can get out to areas quickly to monitor the situations.

Four ways turf can be damaged

There are 4 basic damage concerns for turf over the winter, not including mechanical damage from equipment and traffic.

  • Desiccation & low-temperature kill are associated with exposed turf during the winter months. Desiccation is the loss of moisture from the turf plant, and long-term winter exposure can definitely cause this.
  • Low-temp kill is exactly that, and can start to occur in the 20’s Fahrenheit. Killing temps vary between turf species and cultivars.
  • Smothering of the turf under a sheet of ice is another way for turf to be damaged during the winter months. How well the turf hardened off in the fall, the make-up of the ice layer, and the length of cover are factors in this occurring. And again, turf species & cultivar play a role in its survivability.
  • Thawing and refreezing phases on the turf make it possible for the turf to take in water (crown hydration), and when it refreezes the cells of the plant are destroyed.

Of all the items mentioned, I would say thawing and refreezing is the one that most typically causes turf damage at golf courses in our area.

Giving the water a place to go

Our collar work last fall will greatly help the melt water exit our green surfaces, and escape the area. We did a lot of leveling and ridge removal to allow for greater surface drainage. Over the coming weeks, as the thawing begins, we will be sure to keep green drainage lanes open and running freely. We will also be continuing to clear major drainage paths across the golf course so all the melt water has places to go. All of our work should greatly limit the potential for melt water to pool and refreeze on fine turf areas throughout the golf course.

With all that said, we are expecting some turf damage due to the winter weather. In my next blog entry I will outline some of the turf recovery actions we will be game planning for the spring. Stay tuned…..


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