Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Winter is hanging around longer than anticipated this year compared with 2012.  The average start date at Ridgeway is usually around the first or second week of April.  Unless the weather makes a dramatic change it does not look like that will be a reality in 2013.  We will keep you up to date on golf course conditions both on this blog and with emails from the proshop.

Harsh winters can cause problems to golf turf.  This year’s culprit so far is ice.  The greens and fairways have been covered in ice since January 27th leaving 2-3 sometimes 4” of ice in spots.  Ice is a problem if it persists for periods of more than 60 days on Poa annua and 90-100 days on bentgrass.  Gas gets trapped under the ice and forms a toxic cocktail wherein the plant suffocates from lack of oxygen.  This phenomenon is called anoxia.   
This past Friday and Saturday we took it upon ourselves to remove the snow from our putting surfaces, which exposed ice to the sun.  In order to speed up the melting process we applied a blue dye to darken surface of the ice.   Friday was sunny and 9 of the greens became ice free.  Saturday the sun did not appear like it was forecasted, so none of ice melted on the remaining 9 greens.   Those remaining greens have had the snow removed and painted with blue dye.  It is a matter of warmth and sun, that will determine how fast these greens melt ice.  The long range forecast looks favorable for that to take place at the end of this week.  
One of the tell tale signs of anoxia is a rotten egg or sulfur smell once the greens have melted.  A number of golf course superintendents in Wisconsin have reported this smell on their greens in the past couple of weeks.  On Saturday I did not detect any foul smell on the greens that were ice free.   At this point it is too early to be certain if any turf loss has occurred.  If turf loss has occurred you can bet that Poa annua is the species that will be affected.   This is why our management strategy is aimed at reducing the amount of Poa annua on our golf course.  That being said, we have made great strides in the area of Poa reduction and that will help this spring as opposed to past years where the dominant species was Poa annua. 

Check in weekly for more updates on golf course conditions.