Wednesday, February 18, 2015


While the cold, winter weather may signal the time that many golfers put their clubs away, the change of seasons is actually a sign for a number of golf course activities to move into high gear. With little mowing to be done, we can focus on critical course improvements, such as drainage, bridge repair, bunker renovation, and pruning.  In fact, the key factor to a successful 2015 is what we are able to accomplish in what might erroneously be called the “off-season.”

Now, as during the rest of the year, we have to try and work with Mother Nature, not fight her.  For example, the perennial mowing of the Fescue is best done when conditions are relatively dry, but not frozen.  Similar conditions are needed for our ongoing bunker renovation—too wet is not good, but neither is ground that is too hard. 

If the ground isn’t frozen, the winter months are a great time to install sod, and punch aerification holes.  While the cold temperatures may prevent foliar growth, sod is still able to root, and has a much better chance of survival than when placed in the spring, with stressful hot weather on the way. We can also continue solid tine aerification on the fairways, and use hollow tines on rough and green surrounds to increase pore space and improve rooting in the spring.

The time when we do need frozen ground is when tackling a drainage project.  As these areas are often soft and wet, a firm surface makes it possible to run equipment over the area we’re working on, and cut a clean trench.

Application of our 2015 crabgrass pre-emergent herbicide is more efficient to schedule now than waiting until the spring, when it would traditionally take place.  The newer control products allow us to make this application in late fall or winter, preventing Crabgrass and Goosegrass throughout next year's entire growing season, instead of waiting until the spring when there will be hundreds of other activities that will need to get accomplished.

The winter also gives us the opportunity to service or rebuild our equipment.  This ranges from mowing equipment to irrigation controllers and golf course accessories.  Resurfacing hazard and out-of-bounds stakes, pressure washing the bridges, preparing our ballwashers and water cooler sheds give us a great head start on the upcoming golf season.

So, without the immediate concerns of drought, insect, or disease damage to the turf, you might think things are rather quiet.  However, in terms of managing our turf, the 2015 season is already here.
Frozen soil often provides the perfect conditions for drainage work.

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