Friday, March 9, 2018

A Matter of Course: March 2018 Update

 Photo taken 3/7/2018 on the Quarry Course
By Golf Superintendent Ben Larsen

Does late-winter snowfall harm or kill the turf?  Much depends upon whether the turf has broken dormancy.  If the turf has broken dormancy, then snow can act as an insulator/microclimate for snow mold development.  If the turf has not broken dormancy, then there is a decreased chance for snow mold but the snow acts as an insulator, which will slow the defrosting process in the soil.  At GBCC, because we have not broken dormancy, we are most likely not in any harm on our playable surfaces for a snow mold outbreak; but could delay the soil defrosting process.

Contrary to the photo above, we have been below the yearly average for snowfall.  Seen below from Green Bay’s NOAA, is a comparison from this year’s winter to the average: temperature, precipitation and snowfall.

The red circles signify our normal weather trends for temperature and rain this winter.  The yellow circle signifies the below normal amount of snow accumulated this winter, 12”.

Prior to last week’s snowfall, when the course was exposed, I am pleased to report that there was no winter turf kill; however, we are not out of the woods, yet. Although the threat of desiccation and low-temperature kill is low, there is still a threat of water crown hydration.

Water crown hydration can happen when temperatures increase, the plant starts to uptake water and breaks dormancy.  From there, the damage occurs when temperatures go below freezing, while the plant is growing, causing cell rupture in the crown, resulting in turf kill.  With the forecast reaching low 40s during the day and mid 20s at night; those are perfect conditions for water crown hydration.  However, because of the predominate population of bentgrass, it takes a longer warming tend to break dormancy.  Plus, bentgrass has a high tolerance of water crown hydration.  In fact, water crown hydration may be a positive; because of poa annua’s high susceptibility to water crown hydration, it could aid in the elimination of our course’s small poa annua population.

Overall, this winter has been ideal for the Grounds Department to complete outside projects when warm and inside projects when cold/snowy.  Below are just some of the winter projects completed:


Refurbishing all golf course supplies, including: rakes,
ball washers, benches and tee markers.

Refurbished Ballwashers

Repaired/Renovated/Replaced areas around the Clubhouse
and Sport Center, such as this wine cooler.


  • Attended regional and national seminars and trade shows 
  • Pruned trees and shrubs on the golf course and club grounds
  • Re-organized numerous documents and data records from the 2017 season; in order to make 2018 better
  • Removed dead/dying trees
  • Removed brush
  • Removed Snow – Hopefully Completed
  • Reconditioned all golf course maintenance equipment for the 2018 season – 90% Completed

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