Friday, November 1, 2013

Transitional Period

The end of the golfing year brings a transitional period where the focus moves from surface preparation to gearing up for the winter ahead.  In many cases shoot growth of grass plants has stopped and mowing is not necessary.   Focus now lies in preparing for the upcoming winter months.  Here are many of the items that must or have been completed going into the offseason:

·         Mow native areas.  These areas must be mowed once a season preferably in the fall to help reduce weed populations.  It is also nice to thin out the native areas so that they do not become too thick. Burning also works but can negatively affect the fescue grasses which are the desired turf species in these native areas.  The choice to mow over burning is a better option to preserve the turf species that we desire. 
·        Irrigation winterization.  The entire irrigation system must be winterized and the water blown out of the lines so that it does not damage the piping system.  This task will take place November 11th and 12th.
·         Fall fertilization.  Shortly after plants stop growing is a great way to enhance root growth and strengthen the plants for the upcoming winter.  Because the shoots of the plants have stopped all of the nutrients are stored and used up in the roots which enhance overall plant health.
·         Snow mold.  A fungicide application to fairways, tees, approaches and greens for snow mold takes place shortly before the first deep freeze or snowfall.  All of these areas are sprayed to prevent snow mold.  This takes a coordinated effort because of the amount of leaves, shortness of the day, and air temperatures affect how and when the application will take place.
·         Sand topdressing.  As in previous years we will again be sand topdressing our tees, approaches and greens before winter to protect the crown of the plant from the harsh winter ahead.  This is also a great way to incorporate sand into our profile without affecting play since the course will be closed for several months.
·         Deep-tine aeration.  In conjunction with sand topdressing we also deep-tine our putting surfaces right after we close the golf course for the season. We have done this the past 3 seasons and our outstanding root profile is testament to how well this process works.  The side benefit is these deep 9-10” channels give water a place to hide during winter thaw cycles.  Water in these channels is better than pooling up on our putting surfaces, which can cause all kinds of winter kill issues like crown hydration and ice damage.
·         Leaf removal.  Most of the trees at Ridgeway lose their leaves late in the fall which means a majority of the leaf blowing and mulching will be done in November. 

The end of the season also means colder morning temperatures and frost delays. Please be reminded that frost delays are necessary to protect turf from injury.  On days when frost occurs, you can expect play to be delayed at least until 10 AM.   This past week the earliest anyone was able to tee off after frost was 9:30.  Just a reminder when scheduling tee times this late in the season.