Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Tale of Two Golf Courses

The Range will open Wednesday April 30th and the Course will open Wednesday May 7th (weather permitting)

Now on to my blog post...

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us..."  This partial quote from Charles Dickens seems to describe our spring so far!

At this time of year, as the grass starts to come out of dormancy, there are dramatic differences in colour around the course.  This year the colours are even more dramatic due to the winter injury.

The following pictures illustrate some interesting contrasts:

Below is #14 fairway looking north - meaning it has southern exposure and has started to green up nicely:

Next is #14 fairway looking south - meaning northern exposure and quite a different amount of green up.  This is why our opening has been delayed.  We need warm sunshine and rain so everything greens up equally:

Next is a picture of the 9th fairway.  We expanded the fairway to the left with new sod last fall. Quite a distinct line of winterkill!  The sod contains a very high amount of creeping bentgrass and was taken from our nursery where it grows in full sun.  The right side is almost all annual bluegrass and gets lots of shade and traffic.

Next up is the 4th White tee.  An 83 year old mix of annual bluegrass and bentgrass made with existing soil that doesn't drain particularly well:

Below is the four year old 15th Black tee which was built with a well draining sandy soil and sodded to creeping bentgrass:

I am not suggesting that we rebuild our golf course but the fact remains that creeping bentgrass survived this winter well.  It does however require high amounts of sunlight and good drainage.  In other words, if we were to re-sod all of our greens, tees, and fairways to creeping bentgrass we would have problems because of our growing environments.  The bentgrass would thin out in most areas and soon become annual bluegrass again.  
Being a mostly annual bluegrass golf course, we must accept the fact that certain winter conditions will wreak havoc on our golf course.  They are usually few and far between but that's not always the case - Mother Nature can be cruel.  This years' winter is being hailed as a one in 40 or 50 year event and I hope that's true.

So what can we do right now?  We have already slit-seeded all of the damaged greens in five different directions, topdressed, and rolled them.  We then re-installed the winter covers to help keep the soil warm for germination.  We now require warm weather and timely rains to help us along.  Our irrigation system helps of course but natural rainfall is still best.    

The picture below shows Assistant Superintendent Jeremy slit-seeding damaged areas on fairways and this will continue for a few days:

Our goal is to have everything back to normal as quickly as possible.  We thank you for your understanding in this time of recovery.

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