Monday, January 28, 2019

A Big Blast From the North and the Impending Thaw, How That Effects Golf Green Health

We've had above normal temperatures for the most part during the first 28 days of January with nights being well above normal and day temperatures a couple degrees above. This next blast of cold air the last four days of this month will bring our temperatures closer to average.

I'm sure everyone is anticipating the impending cold that will be followed by a warm up in the forecast below. I believe we have a 1 in 4 chance getting the course open this weekend.

Before we get too excited for a potential course opening this weekend, allow me a moment to discuss the yearly freeze/thaw issue that takes place with our greens.

We are getting to the time of year, probably a month or less before our first mowing of the winter/spring season. With cold temperatures like we will be experiencing over the next few days and no snow cover, the freeze is going to move pretty deep into our sand layer of our greens. The greens need to thaw at least 2-3" and the top of the green surface must be free of significant moisture.

Consequences of Greens Not Being Thawed Deep Enough
As the greens begin to thaw just an inch or two, the thawed part of the green can shift from golfers walking causing the area where the thaw and freeze meet to break or shear the roots off. Our roots this time of year are about 4" deep on average.  

Reducing the length of the roots forces the plant to regenerate new roots in the spring forcing it to catch up with non-damaged plants. Roots not damaged are growing deeper and branching more which  contributes to a healthier plant throughout the spring  and into the summer. The damaged plants see a total surface area of the roots reduced from this damage. The damaged plants must play catch up the rest of the spring and into the summer. If summer conditions arrive early like they did last year, there is less growth potential available for recovering plants and no storage of excess energy. 

The more total area of rooting the plant has, the more energy and moisture they can absorb throughout the spring and into the summer. Usually excess energy is produced and the plants can store some of this excess energy within the plant. The plants store this energy for use during the summer when growth slows and photosynthesis does not produce enough energy to maintain a healthy plant. The longer the plant has energy, the better it can ward off the severe stresses of our 
St. Louis summers. 

Consequences of Water Near the Surface
If the greens have not thawed deep enough to allow the moisture to move through the profile, the greens become spongy and very soft. During late winter play, if we allow play on greens that are very soft and spongy, foot traffic imprints into the surface of the green and may take a couple of weeks for it to come out. This condition can also contribute to large ball marks and damage from just walking on the green. There is also some potential for equipment potentially scalping the surface if this thaw occurs closer to the end of February. We always try to roll our greens in early spring in an effort to reduce the potential for scalping from puffiness and or foot imprinting.

The staff will be monitoring our surfaces and will alert the pro shop when play will be allowed on the golf course including the practice green. For those of you who like odds, I would place our chances of opening at 25%.

The staff has spent the last few days splitting wood, cleaning up tee markers, refurbishing some tables for Golf Pro Mike, cart maintenance, and checking out the internal workings of the ball washers. I've attached a few pictures of their work below.

Sanded and stained but not quite finished.

Shiny and new!

3 Tables in all were refurbished.

Sanding of old material from tee markers

Beginning the coating process.

The walk on area from the pro shop to the practice green was renovated
this past fall. We prepared a little taller stake to attach our nylon rope which will
 allow us to rotate the entrance and exit area from the practice green. Proper
 water, soil structure, aeration, rotating the wear pattern and removing the large sweet
gum should  help improve this area tremendously.
Guts pulled out of the ball washers and being cleaned. Washers were professionally
repainted 4 years ago and look like new  to this day.

Cleaning up the chairs next to the practice green.

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