Monday, February 29, 2016

Winter's End?

 A few of you have started to inquire on the start of the 2016 golf season at Elcona, and while it is still hard to predict an exact date, it is right around the corner.  But what signs do we look for in deciding whether to open or not?  
7 fairway.  Open sun leads to no frost.
6 fairway, a more shaded area.  Frost still present!

The main sign I look at is the amount of frost in the ground. Year to year, the level of frost in the ground varies, as you would expect.  The last two winters had a very deep layer with the extreme cold we dealt with.  This year, while much milder, we still had many areas of ground freeze, especially shaded areas.

The pictures to the left show the variability in frost layer as I walked the course last weekend.  The fairway on hole #7 is exposed to sun most of the day.  My soil probe went all the way to the ground, a good sign that any surface water left on the turf will drain down due to the lack of frozen ground.

The left side of 6 fairway is one area I keep good eye on in early spring due to its higher amount of shade.  The probe one went down a couple of inches, indicating frozen ground below. There was a fair amount of water in the surface, because until that frozen ground thaws completely, the water from melted snow and ice is trapped near the surface. In this situation, any traffic, whether foot or wheeled, will cause a rut.

Excess machine and foot traffic on frozen ground can also lead to root shearing on turf plants, which leads to poor turf quality and a longer window for the turf to green up. The soils also need to completely dry and firm up.  Wet soils lead to damage from machine traffic and compaction.  Playing surfaces also need a period of time to allow proper drainage so we can begin to work them into the firm surfaces you are accustomed to.

Spring is near, and with that golf is near too.  We will keep you abreast on the latest course conditions, and open as soon as the conditions allow.  If you have any questions, please email me at  Have a great week!


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