Winter Recovery Progress

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!
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