As Michigan gears up for winter, golf course superintendents are doing the same. An important aspect of turf management is preparing the grass for the extreme climate changes of winter (freeze/thaw cycles and heavy snow fall). There are many different tasks that are part of winterizing a course and the major ones that da' Brook performs are explained in the following article.
Dormant feeding is an important element in this preparation. It entails a heavy rate of solid fertilizer applied to specific areas of the course. MCC applies a granular fertilizer to its tees and fairways at a rate of 350lbs of product per acre. The fertilizer formulations for dormant feeding usually include a small amount of nitrogen coupled with a large amount of potash (Potassium). Potassium is an important plant nutrient at this time of year because it provides strength to cell walls. Long periods of cold temperatures or abrupt freezes and thaws are extremely detrimental to the turf. Ice crystals, formed by cold temperatures can puncture cell walls in a weakened condition. During a thaw, the plant can actively take up water, hydrating the turf. The water will than freeze puncturing cell membranes from the inside, which will result in the death of the cell. This process in known as crown hydration, and while not completely unavoidable, dormant feeding does provide some relief from it.
The summer of 2011 left its mark on some of the fairways, in the form of voids or bare spots in the turf. The crew hopes that the dormant feed will assist in the recovery of these spots before the snowfall and carry the benefits into the spring.
Snow Mold Control:
Winterizing the Irrigation System:
Winter Covers/Green Winter Preparation:
Due to the orientation of some greens, more protection is needed. Greens that are exposed to northern winds or heavy snowfall are covered with bubble wraps and heavy tarps. The bubble wraps are similar to the packing material and allow for air exchange between the green surface and atmosphere (to prevent the build up of toxic gases). The heavy tarps are placed on top of the bubble wrap and protect the green from winds, snowfall and surface water. The combination of these two is an effective mechanical practice in preventing winter damage.
Everything the crew does at this time of year is geared towards having a healthy golf course come spring. Hitting the ground running in late March and April is a huge advantage when the golf season starts. We hope the members have a pleasant winter and happy holidays. Enjoy.