Tuesday, December 13, 2011

When Cart Paths Bleed.

Touring your golf course to see how well our "Smiley" surface drains were working I was reminded of a blog idea I wanted to post from a few weeks back.

With the holidays and football, it just fell off the table I guess.  With the recent warm weather and rains that followed a week long cold snap and with knowledge not all golf courses in the State closed for winter, I wanted to post this head scratchier.  "When cart paths bleed."
Because "Winter Kill" is a very real and costly concern for courses in Wisconsin, I've often wondered if I could link some of the turfs injury to the frost as it leaves the soil.  Late season play is generally based on the leaves and never on the soils condition.  The main premise of my concern is based on the phenomenon in some of the photo's seen below.

Question; At what time does play, cart traffic cause significant loss of turf grass and at what time should we as responsible turf grass managers close the course for the season to protect your greatest asset, the golf course for the year?

In the photo's you can clearly see moisture on the turf grass leaves following leave debris removal by our blowing equipment. These wheel prints could have just as easily been formed by golf cart tires.  You have to really look closely to see the outline of a footprint but trust me it is there.  It is more visible on closely cut greens but hidden from our view today due to our recent heavy winter coat of topdressings.

Winter injury caused by play, carts and equipment will be a topic of discussion for years to come as we continue witnessing climate change.  As golf course managers, we all know the "How and Why" turf dies, we just have never been able to identify "When" turf dies!  (but we all know what it looks like and we both can agree, we don't like seeing it when it's there before our eyes.) _Mk