Progress Update from the Course April 17,2014
As I have mentioned previously about the weather in New England, if you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute. We were blessed early this week with temperatures that approached and were in to the 70’s. So much so that I was able to perform my spring cardio workout ritual and walk mow all of the greens. That was accomplished over a two day period on Monday and finished up between the raindrops on Tuesday.
Sorry, but my arms weren’t long enough to take a selfie of me and the mower, however, the greens are in excellent shape and we (me and the mower) were removing two to four baskets of cut grass from each green at a height much higher than our normal mowing height during the season. And then Tuesday night the temperatures dropped 50 degrees. We woke up to snow and ice and the winter that does not want to end. The greens were firm enough to take the traffic and we did not leave any footprints. Our immediate goal is to open the course on Monday the 21st to walking only. The paths remain soft and the fairways and roughs are still quite wet and not firm and settled enough to handle cart traffic, but hopefully soon.
To say I am ecstatic about the condition of the turf after this winter would be an understatement. Turf can be damaged by the winter in four distinct ways and we could have experienced any one of these injuries but so far have not. First, by Anoxia, which is the process where suffocating ice forms over the surface and traps toxic gases that will kill turf. Next, by Crown Hydration which occurs when the spring thaws begin to melt the snow and ice and the grass plants begin to break dormancy early and absorb water. The plants, especially Poa annua which is the most susceptible, become damaged when during the meltdown, the temperatures fall and freeze the buildup of water within and around the plant rupturing plant cells causing death of the plant. Another problem is Winter Dessication which occurs when the turf surfaces lose their protective cover of snow during the winter and cold, dry winds pummel the open turf and dry out the plants to the point of no return. We cover the most exposed greens that might have the potential of losing snow cover to prevent this occurrence. The fourth method is direct low temperature kill when the temperature plunges below the temperature tolerance of the turfgrass plants. Or if the plants break dormancy and the temperature drops unexpectedly, injury can result. Once again, Poa annua is the most susceptible species. There are winter diseases that also can wreak havoc, namely Grey and Pink Snow Mold, each resulting from infection by different pathogens. We apply preventive fungicides to control this injury.
One of the areas we will be addressing as soon as the soil dries enough to allow for a finish are the areas on Fairways 2 and 4 where the new storm drains were installed. The areas were graded last fall before the snow hit, and allowed to settle over the winter. What remains is simply a fine finish raking, seeding, application of proper nutrients and lime, mulching, and then growth when conditions are suitable. The areas will be roped off so please do not try to walk on or drive carts through them. There will be a sacrificed spot in the middle of each area with plywood for walking. Carts, when they go, will use the cart paths. Our other goal early on is to get sand to the bunkers that are in need to enhance their playability. Our normal early season applications of high potassium fertilizer to enhamce turf rooting and ability to withstand stresses, growth regulators for Poa annua seedhead control, insecticides for grub control, and preventive fungicide applications will occur over the next several weeks.
At this point, so far, so good. The staff is on board and has been quite busy accomplishing spring cleanup duties to get the course in play as quickly as possible. So, the goal is, to open Monday, the 21st. It has always been said that up here, no matter what the winter is like, the course usually opens by the third week of April, and looks like, barring any unforeseen weather events, which in some respects has almost a sure bet up to now, that the course will open “on time” according to the historic schedule. Hope to see you out there.
Vince Matics CGCS
Golf Course Superintendent