Climate Over Calendar ~ Turf Blog ~ June 14th

June 14, 2016 Dean Baker

Climate Over Calendar

In many conversations pertaining to the conditions on the golf course, weather is often mentioned. It is for good reason and a strong part of educating the membership on how conditions change. We often relate to dates on a calendar for many events on the golf course i.e. the course opening, topdressing, aerations etc. It would be far too easy if we could actually rely on such a schedule.

When it comes to turf health, course conditions and agronomic practices looking to the sky (every morning) is the one true indicator we have. The cycle of the golf course & its conditions is run by climate not calendar. More of us are beginning to understand this as we started with another cool, slow spring. The cooler than normal temperatures kept us bundled up well into May. The golf course was slow to get growing for the same reason.

The golf course loses its growth potential with Fall frost in October. It does not see growth or recovery until Spring soil temperatures are consistently 15ºC.This year, that didn’t occur until late May. That equates to 7 months of no growth or recovery at a time that we saw 5300 rounds played. This is extremely hard on the high traffic areas of the golf course and a big reason why the golf course gets so rundown in the spring and fall. In the past 2 springs, we also saw instances where drill & fill holes on greens remained visible 7 months with recovery only starting late May early June.

With a more summer like climate & cooler temperatures behind us, the course is now at its full growth potential. This growth is crucial for the busy summer ahead with both traffic & weather playing a factor on daily course conditions.

The 2 questions consistently asked...

  1. When is the golf course opening?
  2. When are the greens going to speed up?

Looking to climate & not calendar, we can answer these questions....

  1. As the weather warms up & the course is physically ready to take play, we open.
  2. When soil temperatures consistently reach 15ºC, greens are healthy growing, full recovery of drill & fill holes & any winter damage, we set our summer green speeds.

After 5 years of drill & fill; tree removals to improve sunlight on all greens; resurfacing & establishing stronger bentgrass, the golf course is healthier than it has ever been. The hard work is paying off.

In playing golf & maintaining turf, we do this without a roof. Weather certainly plays many factors when enjoying the game but also the turf we play on. Educating the impact climate has on our golf course is easy. Play 36 holes late Fall or early Spring, a cold day 5ºC, and raining…. grass feels the same way.        

Questions or Concerns? Do not hesitate to contact Dean Baker…

About the Author

Dean Baker

Dean Baker, Certified Golf Course Superintendent (27 years). He joined Burlington Golf & Country Club in 2012, where he has enjoyed the remodelling and renovation of this historic 1922 Stanley Thompson design. Dean is a graduate of the University of Guelph where he remains involved with the program he graduated from, Associate Diploma in Turf Management. There he lends his expertise as an instructor to upcoming turf managers, by instructing the Human Resources for Turf Managers Course.

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