March 27th, Scouting Report from the CDGA

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
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