Bemidji Town & Country Club Online Newsletter - 06/24/13

From the Greens Committee

We had been fortunate over the past several years that our course has emerged from the winter with little or no adverse affects of weather/winter related issues. This is not the case this year as you well know. A number of weather related factors contributed to the issues we have this year and the damage was done.

Recommended corrective steps had been implemented for the greens, tee boxes, and some fairways, as soon as weather allowed with aeration, over seeding, and covering some greens, and aeration and over seeding on all other greens, with expectation that warmer weather would allow for reasonable recovery time. Up until two weeks ago the warmer weather was not received and little recovery made. Tom and his crew continue to work with USGA specialists to insure any additional steps (spike seeding, fertilization, etc.) are taken to help resolve this issue as quickly as possible and warmer weather while slow in coming seems to now be warming the ground to allow for growth of over seeded grasses.

We have included below a short article that describes the problem that is being experienced this year in our area. While the problem we had was weather related we are also a bit more at risk due to the type of grass on our greens. If you have traveled and played on other courses with Bent grasses versus the Poa grass we have they came through the weather issues with very little damage.

Your greens committee members are: Bob Paine, Gary Reints, Pam Johnson, Scott Tuomula, Paul Iverson, Rick Grand, Tom Johanns, and Tom Conzemius

Thank you for your continued support of BTCC.

Greens Committee
A Painful Start To Spring
By Adam Moeller, agronomist, Northeast Region

Winter injury has been observed at many golf courses
in the region. Keeping the greens closed during the
seeding and establishment process is essential
for a speedy and successful recovery.

Many golf courses in the region have lost their snowpack recently and discovered moderate to severe winter damage on putting greens. Adding to the frustration is the fact that March is often suggested to be the most damaging month for winter injury because of the frequent freeze/thaw events and rainfall. With luck, Mother Nature won’t throw any more challenges our way.

Regardless of damage severity, winter injury is always a painful start to spring. Recovery from winter damage starts with communication. The sooner that course decision-makers and golfers are aware of the damage the better. The following are key steps to promote recovery from winter injury on greens.
  • Close the greens and install temporary surfaces on the approaches or fairways! This plays the biggest role in successfully recovering from winter injury. If golfer traffic is not restricted, the duration to get the greens healed and back to normal will be dramatically longer and will predispose these areas to major setbacks during the summer.
  • Charge the irrigation system and begin light and frequent irrigation during the day to prevent drying out of weakened turf that may appear to be dead.
  • Remove trees that shade greens. Greens with limited sunlight will always take longer to recovery than those with ample sunlight.
  • Warm the putting green soils with clear plastic covers, permeable covers, or black topdressing sand.
  • Create a seedbed with spiking, shallow core aeration, slice seeding, or verticutting. Combinations of these practices will maximize seed/soil contact and should be considered. However, weak turf may not tolerate aggressive cultivation, so err on the conservative side.
  • Consider utilizing preplant fertilizer to improve seedling establishment and vigor.
  • Seed the damaged areas with creeping bentgrass.
  • Use permeable covers or black topdressing sand to aid in soil warming and seed germination. Clear plastic covers will also help, but they will need to be removed frequently to irrigate the turf. Note: warm weather and sunny skies, combined with moist soils under covers, will be ideal for turf pathogens so monitor temperatures frequently under the covers.
  • Once germination occurs, initiate a grow-in fertility regime to promote turf vigor and growth.
  • Mow these areas as needed with a walk-behind mower set to a conservative mowing height (0.160” +) and utilize a solid front roller.
  • Keep the greens closed until the newly established turf has rooted adequately and can tolerate traffic.
Winter injury is a very complex problem, and information about the subject has been written about in the Green Section Record since the 1930’s. Significant progress has been made through research, but winter injury continues to be a major concern for golf courses in northern climates. Feel free to contact our office for more specific information about winter injury and recovery, or review the links below that discusses the subject matter in more detail.