Recovery is underway in many sites it seems and covers can be seen dotted all around the city as soil temperatures took another plunge this week. The forecast currently though seems like 70's are a possibility for many of us and even the guys on the north shore should benefit from that in the near to medium term. As I have visited more locations the glorious inconsistency of who did what and how it worked out has been disarmingly frustrating. There are some incredible stories of doing nothing and looking impeccable in a tree lined tight site to doing nothing and 30-50% damage in an open sunny site. Turf managers who broke ice 24 hours after it formed still had some 'perfume' while others who didn't even let ice form have four greens covered. Some of you would take only four greens covered, but from the perspective of play it's still causing some questions, especially as we are into summer golf and scoring.

It is Easter weekend so I hope everyone has an enjoyable period prior to what will be a very active period based on the current weather forecast!

Click here to view the April 18, 2014 Scouting Report

As always if you have a question or query please do not hesitate to ask and you can call or email.

Ed Nangle PhD
Director of Turfgrass Programs
Chicago District Golf Association
Follow us on Twitter @TurfResearch

Turf Will Need Time To Heal This Season

By Keith Happ, director, North-Central Region
April 16, 2014

Reestablishing plant health above and below ground will be challenging this spring. Recovery can occur and turf performance can be sustained if adequate time is provided to new grass plants.
During the winter months a great deal of planning and preparation takes place. The agronomic planning sessions center on growing healthy grass that can present sustainable, consistent playing conditions during the summer months. For many, particularly those in the Northern tier of the North-Central Region, winter damage has severely impacted putting green turf’s emergence from dormancy this spring. We are now starting to get a feel for the extent of the damage experienced. Wind desiccation damage, crown hydration and anoxia have occurred. The emergence of new bud leaves is a sign that the grass will recover as long as adequate time is provided to reestablish surface density and root mass in the soil profile.
Golf is played on the surface of a dense stand of grass; however, it is the root mass in the soil that provides the foundation that allows grass to tolerate traffic and environmental stress during the summer months.

Please take the time to watch our webcast that was presented April 17 of this year. It focuses on recovery strategies to help regenerate grass on greens and other areas of the course for golf this season. (Watch the webcast)

Big changes will continue to be happening around the 1st tee in the coming weeks.  Last fall three spruce trees were removed to highlight a maturing Bur Oak.  This spring the aging and overgrown junipers and arborvitae behind the tee will be removed to make way for new plantings.

The plantings behind 1 tee have become overgrown and unsightly.  The objective of this project is to maintain the screening between the tee and the circle drive, but improve the aesthetic of the area due to it proximity to the front of the clubhouse.

When this project is complete, the cart path will no longer run behind the tee.  The curb will be cut to allow access to the 1st tee from the circle drive.  A walkway will be maintained where the cart path currently is, and the planting bed will be made larger to accommodate new plantings.  The new plantings will be similar to other that are in front of the clubhouse.  These models give an idea of what the new planting may look like when the project is complete.

This project will begin as the cart path on 9 is finishing up.  This will be a great change for the look at the front of the clubhouse.
The winter weather extremes are still the talk of Chicago area courses (especially with another blanket of snow today!), and likely will be for several more weeks while courses tend to the recovery process.  In this week's CDGA Turf Scouting Report posted yesterday, we learned the NOAA has declared this the coldest winter on record for Chicago.  I do not see anybody lining up to dispute that yet!  Several resources from several organizations have been produced over the past month regarding winter damage and the accompanying recovery process.  This is a result of the widespread winter damage across the upper midwest.  Courses from the east coast to Detroit to Chicago to Milwaukee are experiencing varying levels of winter damage.  Reports of reseeding greens and fairways are not hard to come by.

Here is a short list of recent publications on winter damage:

CDGA Winter Issues letter
Cool-Season Turf Winter Kill Potential
Winter-Weary Golfers need to be Patient
Recovery Will Be Part of the Preparation for the Season
MSU Ice Damage and Winter Kill bulletin
USGA Webcast: Severe Winter Concerns
MI Ice and Recovery Seminar Summary
Winter kill 2014: What to do now

We have not been immune to winter's wrath.  Evidence of the extreme weather is in our fairways.  Most obvious to me is the areas that have been damaged are areas that receive a longer duration of shade through the day.  This results in a weaker plant that will be less tolerant of weather extremes.  These areas also have higher populations of annual bluegrass (poa), which is less tolerant of weather extremes than bentgrass.

This picture clearly shows the the greatest area of damaged turf resides in the portion of the fairway that receives the most shade.  These trees are lining the south side of the fairway.

These areas of the fairways that exhibit the greatest level of damage have been over seeded in an attempt to expedite recovery.  Expect these areas to be roped off for some time until a decent stand of grass can be established.  These areas include spots in 2, 4, 5, 8 and 12 fairway.

The greens and tees on the course have come through the winter very well.  The benefits of the recent renovation are evident in these areas.  The greens and tees have predominately bentgrass which is showing its winter hardiness.  The 7th green is thinner to start the year.  It is no coincidence that this green had the longest duration of ice cover through the winter resulting in stresses, even on the bentgrass.  We will gauge the necessary recover efforts for this green as grass begins to grow.

 The spring will still be progressing slowly.  We will not be ramping up our manicuring efforts until the grass begin growing at a reasonable rate.  Though the grass is certainly greening up, not much is growing yet.  40s for highs and 20s for lows does not help any.  But, it looks like we will be back into the 60s by weeks end!
It's a record folks - NOAA has reported that this was the coldest winter on record by 0.4 of a degree for the Chicago area - the last previous record was set in 1903-1904.

I am guaranteeing that nobody was managing golf courses in the area at the time and I am also fairly sure that there are no notes on the recovery process - which means, one day at a time and no panicking. Seeding, watering, fertilizer and covers are the order of the day - of course if you have bentgrass greens then you may be just fine.

Further reports have come in of dead grass of course (Picture 1 and 2), but also further reports of timing of issues have come in. Recent conversations indicated that one course manager knew he had the 'smell of death' on February 16th when he broke ice. This is remarkable as this was right on the border for Poa annua as he had counted ice cover to be at 42 days. The smell was not a nice sweet hay smell that is preferred, but the bitterer version and now famous line 'smell of death'. The impact on his course has been particularly harsh.

Recovery times of course can only be estimated and are everyone's focus going forward - mild damage may see recovery very soon but from some of my visits I would expect that optimal conditions may take an extended period of time. A call to the USGA is recommended as well as signing up for their free recovery webinar here.

The other issue at hand is that our current temperatures have not been ideal - some warm conditions have come through but with lows predicted to return back in the high 20's / low 30's, that is from ideal for warming up soil temperatures and getting seed germination.

Click here to view the April 11, 2014 Scouting Report

As always if you have a question or query please do not hesitate to ask and you can call or email.

Ed Nangle PhD
Director of Turfgrass Programs
Chicago District Golf Association
Follow us on Twitter @TurfResearch
Carts, Practice Tee, Chipping Green and Halfway House will be added to the amenities available this weekend.  Sunny weather and sunshine have begun to push color onto the grass on the green, tees and fairways, however the rough has a ways to go yet.  Though the grass is green, we have not seen much growth yet.  This weather has been two steps forward, but it looks like one step back next week with high temperatures in the 40s for most of the week.

Some nice weather is predicted for Saturday, but Sunday does not look so nice.  Naturally, cart availability on Sunday will depend on soil conditions.  Any rain Saturday afternoon or evening could force cart restrictions on Sunday.
Welcome back everyone - it has been a long winter and while the calendar has officially entered springtime - Im not so sure that we are actually there yet. Snowfall March 24th and lows in the teens March 25th meant that old man winter has not let go of us just yet as far as temperatures go. As far the winter itself went it has been far from quiet from what I observed. Education talks were very well attended whether it was at Mauh-Nah-Tee-See in Rockford or Nashville GC in Nashville IL to Medinah CC at the annual CDGA club leadership conference led by the venerable Mr S. Solow - guys are suffering from some severe forms of cabin fever.

From my perspective it has been intriguing picking up on methods and thoughts behind how to deal with the winter. I do feel however that there are extremes that we have dealt with this year that it may have not made one iota of difference. Instances of ice build up were reported in late December and unfortunately some courses never shook the ice cover until early March. That time period 80-84 days will have certainly wiped out a lot of Poa annua - pictures are below. The courses with bentgrass of course avoided the worry of this but at the same time the recovery to growth may take a little longer than many of us would like.

From the personnel standpoint, we have hired Ron Townsend as our Director of Turfgrass Research. Ron a fellow Buckeye (I know I'm infesting the place) worked with the pathology program at OSU and most recently was up in Exmoor with the esteemed Mr. K. Galisdorfer. Ron was a Toro/Nicklaus scholarship award winner at OSU as well as a winner of the Trans-Miss scholarship. Ron will allow us to return to a much more normal research service while also aiding with data and website handling. Ron will contribute to the scouting report regularly and he may also be seen at meetings acting as my translator.....

Click here to view the April 4, 2014 Scouting Report

As always if you have a question or query please do not hesitate to ask and you can call or email.

Ed Nangle PhD
Director of Turfgrass Programs
Chicago District Golf Association
Follow us on Twitter @TurfResearch
The primary playing surfaces have been cleaned, bunkers raked, and holes cut.  The greens are back in play on Saturday for the 2014 season.  Though the calendar says April 5th, the weather has not acquiesced.  Early spring conditions prevail on the course.  We have also completed our spring aeration, so greens will be sandy, bumpy and slow for the weekend.  The key phrase is "in play", not necessarily "in shape" yet.  The soil has thawed, the grass has greened and they will safely accept traffic, so get out and satisfy your golf cravings in some sunny weather.

Our greens aeration was originally scheduled for April 7th.  However, with the great weather on Monday and Tuesday this week we moved up the aeration to take advantage of the great weather.  As usual, growing conditions will dictate how rapidly the holes will heal.  With some sun, and warmer soil temperatures, it will not take long.

April 2, 2014

March 27, 2012

It is funny to look at the two weather extremes side-by-side.  2012 was a very mild winter with a very early spring.  2014 is the exact opposite.  Warm weather and time will get us to this point.  Unfortunately, we can't control either one.
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