Friday, April 3, 2009

"Are the greens open yet?"

That's the question that begins to resonate each year at this time. So, we want to both answer the question, and explain the thought process involved when deciding to open the greens.

It’s been another typical atypical spring at SCC! We had some very nice early - mid March weather, which brought us welcomed warming and drying, but recently conditions have left a lot to be desired for both course work and playing golf. With snow last weekend and cloudy and rainy periods this week, ground conditions have again become soggy and soft. Hopefully we’ll see favorable weather again soon!

In spite of this less than ideal spring, we have made good progress toward opening the greens, and I’m happy to say that by the time the club reopens (April 8th), or within a day or two of that day, they should be ready to play. They have been uncovered (except for parts of No. 3 & No. 11 greens still recovering from winter injury) for several days, to acclimate and dry. They have also been rolled and mowed three times resulting in much firmer surfaces.

Unfortunately the weather forecast for this weekend and early next week calls for colder temperatures and the possibility of even more snow. Overnight lows may again drop below freezing and because of this we will be “shuffling” the covers one more time and recovering the greens. Since the last uncovering, the colder conditions have actually caused a slight decline in the color (several nutrients affecting color become unavailable when soil is cold) and a sharp drop in growth rate.

Comparison of greens coloration: The top picture depicts obvious green-up after the first cover removal, while the bottom picture shows the color decline 17 days after the 2nd removal.

So this brings us to the title question, but perhaps you might also ask; “Why do we have to wait at all to open the greens in the spring”? or, “Why not open the greens after pulling the covers? Good questions indeed.

There are several important reasons for not rushing the opening of greens in the spring:
  • Often in early spring the ground surface thaws while still frozen below. Any traffic (players, vehicles) during this condition can easily result in turf root systems being sheered as the thawed layer shifts from the solid, frozen, non-resilient lower layer.
  • Wet soils (typical of early spring) are much more susceptible to compaction, which is a collapse of soil structure and vital pore (root, water & air) space leading to weakened root systems, lower turf vigor, and bumpy, and irregular surfaces.
  • Cold and cloudy spring conditions are not conducive to active turf growth. Therefore, turf has less wear tolerance and recuperative potential resulting in damage from normal player traffic and ball mark injury.
  • This decreased wear tolerance often predisposes the turf to potentially damaging diseases such as Microdochium Patch and Basal Crown Anthracnose.
Though an extreme case, this illustrates the extent of damage a green can potentially incur when play is permitted during very wet, early spring conditions.

So every year at this time we consider these turf quality and playability affecting issues and make sure that conditions are appropriate before the greens are opened. This cautious concern is one of many reasons our greens remain in high quality condition and playability. Another key reason is your patience at this time of year in allowing us to let soil and weather conditions become favorable prior to us proceeding with greens opening preparations. We Thank You and your Greens Thank You!

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