Winter Preparation

Blog Post By: Troy Looney, Superintendent

Fall is here. Cool temperatures, morning frosts, and ever shorter days are the norm.  As a response to the weather, nature is preparing for winter survival and another successful growing season next year.  Similarly, the grounds crew at Bucks Run Golf Club is laying the foundation for winter readiness.  Preparing for winter began during the end of summer with fertilization, seeding, and aerification.  Now, the crew continues to work hard to ensure the course is ready for winter and ultimately next season.

Turf growth has slowed but is not yet dormant.  While we do not currently mow every day, we still keep a watchful eye on the turf and mow areas in order to maintain the proper cut height of the greens, tees, fairways, and rough.

When the turf stops growing, we will perform a final mow and apply a fungicide to prevent snow mold growth during the winter.  A fascinating aspect to the life of the golf course is that fungal growth continues, in fact thrives, all winter long.  Snow acts as an insulation, maintaining a steady temperature around 32°F, between the frozen ground and the layer of snow.  This creates the perfect environment for fungus to feed on the grass blades.  Without a final fungicide application, a golf course would become extensively damaged by fungus during the winter. Below, is an example of damage caused by fungus.

One area that receives a special mowing during the fall is our native fescue areas.  We mow the tall grass down to a height of five inches as a means of controlling woody plant growth like trees and bushes.  This once a year mow, mechanically controls woody weed growth better than a herbicide treatment.

The decreased demand for mowing has steadily been replaced by the need to remove leaves from the course.  Leaf removal is a very important part of winter preparation.  We use two large turbine blowers to clear fairways and roughs, and a handful of backpack blowers to keep the greens and tees clean.  Be assured, the grounds staff is cleaning the course everyday so you can have an enjoyable round of golf throughout the fall.  The necessity of having a clean course extends beyond the game.  From an agronomic standpoint, leaves must be removed regularly.  Leaves covering turf can harbor fungus and mold growth.  Additionally, when leaves are allowed to pile, they can smother and kill turf.  Not to mention, the larger the mass of leaves, the more difficult their removal.  Leaf removal will continue even after the course closes.

Winter preparation on the golf course also includes winterization of the Irrigation system.  A process of using compressed air to remove water from the pipes and irrigation heads. We also remove course supplies like ball washers, bunker rakes, water fountains, and signage.  Course supplies are thoroughly cleaned and refurbished during the winter months in preparation for the upcoming year.  The list of work continues all the way to opening day.  I will save the details for another blog, another day.  Hopefully, there will be several warmer days so you can play another pleasant round on the course before the snow returns.  Until then, I leave you with a recent sunrise photo from Bucks Run Golf Club. Enjoy!

Posted by admin at Oct 30, 2018 Category: Other
Tags: Bucks Run Golf Club, Mt. Pleasant, MI, Fall, Winter