Friday, December 31, 2010

At Last

Finally after seven weeks with little or no snow on the golf course yesterday brought us 4" of much needed snow cover. 

The timing is great for several reasons, the first obviously being the desperately needed moisture and secondly providing an insulating cover for the turf. Over the next several days the forecasted temperature highs will be in the single digits with the lows falling into negative numbers. With out the protective snow cover the turf would be exposed to extreme temperatures that could have potentially damaging effects.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Frost Pattern

Even thought the season has changed the fundamentals remain the same, each morning we monitor the moisture levels throughout the golf course.

Similar to what we do in the summer with looking at dew patterns we now are looking at frost patterns to help determine moisture levels. The irrigation system was blown out six weeks ago and with little or no snow falling since then, we have relied on the frost free components of the irrigation system.  This time of year without snow cover we make sure the main play areas receive water every two weeks.

The process of winter watering is very labor intensive, it requires six people to run the quick couplers and complete all of the hand watering. The entire golf course can be completed in three days with a lot of hard work.

Until a lasting snowfall occurs we will be doing everything we can to ensure that adequate moisture levels are maintained throughout the golf course. As I have said for many years, the golf course is more difficult to maintain in the winter months than durring the growing season and this is proof positive of that fact. Weather is always a determining fact in the level of success achieved in any season, but the winter months can be particularly unforgiving.      

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Native Tells The Story

It has been a long year with many challenges along the way but none has been greater than the lack of natural precipitation. This year we are nearly 10" of precipitation behind from last season and the effects can best be seen in the native grass areas.

Many of these native areas have been decimated by the lack of precipitation that has thinned out the non native species within the original seed mix leaving many areas free of turf.  These area are now being overseeded with a "true" native mix that will thrive under this low precipitation environment. Native grasses are very slow to establish and often times it takes years for the grasses to become fully established. Some of these areas may require multiple overseedings to become fully re-established.

Area Before Seeding

After Seeding

The seedbed was prepared using an old aerifier with solid tines to create pockets in which the seed will reside. These pockets create the perfect environment for the seed to germinate and become established.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Spreading The Word

A couple of days ago I had the opportunity to speak at the RMRTA turf conference and trade show here in Denver and it was a thrill.  I was asked to speak about blogging and the Golf Course Superintendent, the talk was well attended and I think that there will be several new blogs hitting the web soon.

I would like to thank those involved with the RMRTA who asked me to talk on this subject, it was an honor to be able to speak in front of my peers about something I believe will make their jobs easier to do in the future.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Winter Blanket

One of the final steps in preparation for the upcoming winter has been done to the greens.  They all have been heavily topdressed with sand to provide some protection from the harsh winter environment.

This heavy sand layer will help in two ways, the first being physical protection and the second being insulating qualities. The sand will provide a physical barrier to foot traffic from animals such as Elk and Deer as they walk and run over the green surface. The second and most beneficial way the sand will help is to provide to insulation to the crown of the plant.

The crown in the turfgrass plant gives rise to the leaves, roots and all other stems; consequently the survival of the stem is critical for survival of the turfgrass plant. The crown is also the area in the plant which carbohydrates are stored which is necessary for growth of the plant. In essence the crown is the heart of the plant and everything must be done to protect it from the extremes found in our Colorado winters.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What Is The Purpose Of Winter Play

 I found a great article to covers the basic reasons why we go to temporary greens in the winter months.

Here are a few excerpts from the article;
"If winter play is a controversial topic at your facility I urge you to ask the following question. What is the purpose of winter play? I doubt golfers want to compromise turf health or future playability. Instead, winter play allows golfers to work on their swing, get outdoors, and stay active and exercise......This leaves us at a crossroad. Do what's best for the turf or what's best for the golfers? The answer is undeniably do what is best for the turf!"

The article can be read in its entirety at the USGA's website Here

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Winter Setup

Now that it is December we have gone to our winter golf course setup. This includes restricting carts to the paths and the use of temporary greens for the next three months.

We do all that we can to protect the golf course durring the winter months so that less outsides stresses are put on the turf.  This is key to having the course come out of winter in better condition and giving it a head start for the next growing season.

During the winter months the turf is unable to recover from divots, ball marks and wear caused by foot and cart traffic. Once the turf begins thinning out from these stresses the opportunity for Poa Annua invasion is significantly increased. Currently we dedicate a lot of resources to mange the Poa populations and by us not taking these extra precautions we would not have the same efficacy of control.