The winter of 2013/2014 was one of the harshest on record. Almost every golf course in the mid-west suffered some turf loss especially on greens. Reports are coming in from golf courses across the region and the news for some is devastating. A number of golf courses have lost so much turf they have decided to close and re-seed the greens. A number of courses are playing temporary greens until the turf that is left recovers.
|Record cold and snow left many golf courses with dead turf on their greens.|
|It's mid-April and the trees haven't started leafing out. As soil temperatures rise the turf begins to green up and we find the Village Links came through the winter in decent shape.|
Luck. We were lucky. A number of very good golf courses with good superintendents performing state of the art maintenance practices lost turf. Often the difference between healthy and dead turf is so minute. A couple of degrees colder at one location or slight drainage issues at another can be the difference between success and failure.
Poa annua. We don't have very much poa annua on our golf course. Poa annua is a nuisance turf that is prevalent on most golf course in the U.S. We have been on an aggressive program at the Village Links to eliminate poa anuua since 2007. Virtually all the turf that died this winter was poa annua. Golf courses that had a lot of poa had a much greater risk of losing turf.
Top dressing. In late November we apply a moderately heavy layer of sand top dressing to the greens. This extra layer provides a little extra protection to the delicate turf on greens.
|One of the reasons poa annua is susceptible to winter damage is it's shallow roots. The poa plant on the right only has roots 1.5" long. The bent grass plant to the left has 6" roots. Poa plants are easily injured when air temperatures dip below -5°.|
|This is how many greens in our region looked in early March. The lighter colored spots are Poa annua and they are not looking too healthy.|
|By the first week of April the bent grass was greening up and it was obvious that most Poa annua did not survive.|
|This close up shows a few sprigs of bent grass emerging from the dead Poa plants. Many greens in the mid-west have up to 90% Poa annua on their greens. The harsh winter weather = dead Poa greens. Yes, we were lucky.|