March 27, 2015 Scouting Report

The initial green shoots of the spring and the golf season are almost upon us. As I write this we are still shaking off winter however with snow still on the ground after a 5" event at the Midwest Golf House. Of bigger importance however, is the impact that winter has had in general on local courses. In comparison to last year the general sentiment is that we are at least 99% better on greens and even tees and fairways are in superior shape. The one caveat is that we haven't gotten clear of winter yet, so one sharp cold snap is still a possibility and it could undo a lot of good work that has occurred so far. In general courses around the state should have become largely snow clear prior to the most recent snow event and certainly some public courses in the Chicago area had opened to help drive revenue. Areas that are a traditional issue such as low spots and heavily shaded greens are not impeccable certainly but in general everyone is happy to date. The other missing issue is the smell - last year we all learned very quickly what the famous 'smell of death' was. The anaerobic conditions created by 2-3" layers of ice were not recreated this year due to a favorable January where by super bowl Sunday, the Sunshine Course was completely clear of snow and any potential ice. The 18 - 22" of snow that fell on that date actually was a huge help for the record cold month of February as it insulated the turf in many ways and prevented any damage. That being the case many have said it's the best that greens have looked coming out of winter in a long time.

Spring can be volatile of course in the region and the hope is for a little rain, a little sun and plenty of warmer days. One issue that has raised some eyebrows has been the disease pressure that occurred this winter. Evidence of both pink and gray snow mold can be seen on tees and in roughs throughout the area. Courses from a budget standpoint locally do not warrant control applications in the rough, so damage there can be expected. In areas where shade plays a role and where snow melt made sites excessively wet, potential for pink snow mold or Microdochium nivale to break through control measures increases. Generally warming temperatures and soils will see grass grow out of the somewhat superficial damage, but it certainly makes for some interesting pictures.

Education this year had a broad focus - with looking at future technology being one area of interest, while bacterial etiolation was still hot on the conference list. As cabin fever hit however the snow finally began to melt and so a majority of superintendents are glad to be back outside and at the grind of massaging grass to provide a smooth putting surface - it's great to be back. It's a big year for Chicago golf with the United States Amateur, The Encompass Championship and The BMW Championship all paying a visit to the city - its going to be busy!

Click here to view the March 27, 2015 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
With the preferable weather forecasted for Friday and Saturday, we will have the greens in play for those who would like to take advantage of it.  The greens will be slow and a little bumpy while we work to get them back in shape.  Carts will not be available and no other amenities will be on the course.  The practice areas will also be closed.  We will not have anything other than the greens mowed.  It will be March golf, but come on out and dust off the golf swing for the coming year.  After Saturday, the temperatures do not appear to be favorable for golf, so get out and enjoy it while you can.
It appears the grass on the course is getting some color back.  After we get the first mowing in on the playing surfaces, the grass will start to perk up.  We are still cleaning the course and that will continue through the rest of the week.  Hope to see you out this week!
I said we would be back to seeing grass at the end of the week.  Well, we made it!

Monday, 3/9

Friday, 3/13

Most of the snow left on the course resides in the valleys and will likely realize its inevitable melt this weekend.  The course is beginning to dry from the abundance of moisture left from the snow.  There is still a frost layer on the soil, but it is shrinking daily as well.  The amount of ice on the pond is a good gauge for the frost in the soil.  When the ice on the pond is gone, the frost in the soil will not be far behind.

The grass on the course looks good to start the season.  The spots in the bottom picture are snow mold symptoms.  There are several areas, in the rough only, that display these symptoms.  They are cosmetic symptoms that the grass will grow out of when the weather allows for growth.

Our plan is to start cleaning the course on Monday.  This is the first step in getting the course ready for golf again.  We do not have a date for opening greens yet.  The course still have some snow, and a frost layer in the greens.  Then it will need a few days to dry, and we will need a few more to get the greens ready.  We will have all the updates here, on ForeTees and on Twitter.  It won't be much longer!

If you have been craving some golf during the tail end of the winter season, next weeks forecast likely caught your eye.  Some great weather is in the forecast for the next 10 days.  This stretch should melt the snow we have, and begin drying the moisture that is left over.  Historically, we are golfing 3 weeks from now!  Who knows what else mother nature may throw at us between now and then, but the next few days look promising.

 The snow is still quite deep on many parts of the course.  These pictures are from this morning.  Once this snow does melt, the course will be very wet.  Some time will be needed to dry the moisture that will be left.  Then, we will be ready to get on the course for the necessary preparations needed to get golfers back out.
We will see you soon!
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