Friday, May 15, 2015

Effects of winter still lingering

Not all winter damage on golf course turf is created equally.
Damage caused by harsh winter conditions typically is a concern throughout the Northeast and much of the Midwest, but what causes it and its severity can vary from location to location and year to year. And this year is no different, with superintendents in some areas reporting minor damage and others calling this year's damage the worst they've seen.
Now that spring finally has arrived, the USGA Green Section recommends adequate moisture on areas where turf is damaged but still alive, slit seeding those areas with weakened turf and reducing or eliminating traffic until such areas are repaired. A leading university researcher suggests reseeding severely affected areas with creeping bentgrass followed by a strict fertility program.
This green that has been damaged by winter conditions has been slit-seeded in multiple directions.
This green that has been damaged by winter conditions has been slit-seeded in multiple directions.
At James Baird State Park Golf Course in Pleasant Valley, New York, 16 of 18 greens were lost to winter kill, a problem that kept the course closed into May. The same can be said for The Golf Course at Yale in New Haven, Connecticut, where superintendent Scott Ramsay, CGCS, called the damage the worst he has seen in his 31 years as a superintendent.
According to the USGA Green Section, there were several different causes for winter damage, including rain followed by freezing conditions in December and January that left exposed and dormant turf covered in ice for an extended period. At James Baird, an ice storm that rolled through Pleasant Valley in mid-January was to blame.
Copious amounts of snow in other areas left turf blanketed in snow so long that suffocation was a concern. Then later in March, turf in areas where standing water is a concern went through the thaw-freeze cycle. For other courses along the coast, wind was the problem, first removing snow cover and then blowing over exposed dry and dormant turf, resulting in desiccation.
While Green Section agronomists recommend reviewing programs and procedures, they acknowledge there is really little any golf course superintendent can do to prevent winter damage, other than to repair areas where standing water is a recurring problem.
That's the route Ramsay took at The Golf Course at Yale in New Haven, Connecticut, where he said winter damage could have been much worse if not for a fall aerification treatment that prevented standing water from accumulating in low areas on greens.
The story is the same on Long Island, where long and persisting winter conditions have resulted in delayed course openings, tournament postponements and temporary greens, according to published reports. Normal playing conditions at many courses, especially those with annual bluegrass putting surfaces, are not expected until summer.
As usual, courses with predominantly bentgrass greens fared better than those touting mostly annual bluegrass, which is the area's primary putting surface.
In December, Kevin Frank, Ph.D., of Michigan State University delivered a seminar on winterkill during the annual Ohio Turfgrass Foundation conference and trade show.
The ability to recover depends entirely on the level of damage incurred, but such programs often begin with seeding bentgrass. Frank discussed 
One such recovery program Frank discussed at OTF included seeding with bentgrass, followed by a starter fertilizer application at 0.75 pounds of phosphorus per 1,000 square feet, followed by a foliar program of 0.10 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 applied every four to five days through mid- to late May. That program also included delaying PGR use until mid-June. 
Properly preparing the area for seeding to improve seed-soil contact also played a critical role in how quickly an area recovered. 
Frank has had a lot of experience lately helping superintendents from throughout the Midwest deal with the aftermath of winter damage. Damage from harsh winter conditions throughout Michigan was worst in 2014, but was more widespread this year, he said.
A year ago, winter damage was concentrated mostly in the Detroit area, while this year courses northward into the state's thumb all the way to Gaylord are reporting dead or damaged turf. At least three courses in the Detroit area have filed documents in court against The Travelers Indemnity Co. for denying insurance claims associated with winter damage.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Tweet from Jeremy Stachowicz (@JerStack)

Jeremy Stachowicz (@JerStack) tweeted at 4:08 PM on Thu, Apr 30, 2015:
9th today and last week. The 1st green today and last week. Not bad for no weather.

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Jeremy Stachowicz
Golf Course Superintendent
Wahconah CC

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

April Greens Update

We plan to open the course Friday April 24th, with a very soft opening. As most know we experienced a fairly large amount of winter damage to our greens. When we open we will be dealing with a large number of temporary greens while we recover the damage. Your cooperation and patience for the next month is greatly appreciated. Nobody like temporary greens but as of right now we have very little choice. On Friday we will open holes 1-7 with 4 and 5 as the playable greens. After you finish 7, please play 17 and 18 as open greens to finish your nine. As we move along we hope to have more and more of the golf course available each week as we head towards Memorial Day. Below is my report to the Board for the month of April.

Greens Report
April 20th, 2015

Summary -Its no secret that we are dealing with some significant winter damage to our greens and a few other areas of the golf course. This has been widely publicized in many of the local media outlets including the Berkshire Eagle and on Masslive. We received damage to pretty much all 18 of our greens, which I will try and breakdown for you. The majority of the damage is to the relatively weak Poa Annual, however even a few of our Bent grass areas got dinged up. Most areas of the golf course were under ice encasement between 91 to 100 days. Most grasses cannot last that long under ice. This is the worst amount of injury that I have experienced possibly since the spring of 1999. That year we opened with 14 temporary greens. The last green (4) was put into play on June 6th.

Group I – least amount of damage and greens that I would open first.
4,15,18,17,12 and 5. Most of these have small amounts of damage and will recover and fill in quickly.

Group II – Fairly large amounts of damage probably greater than 1/3 of the area.
2,11,10,16,3,13 and 8. I’m hopeful that we can get these in play relatively quickly. While they have some significant damage I think I’m working with some decent amounts of live material in the damaged areas. Plugs I have taken out and brought in have responded favorably.

Group III – I would put these at damage levels greater than 50%.
            14,1,9,6, and 7. These possibly will take a bit more time to recover.

Plan: - I have ordered two full size covers that are now currently out on the 1st green and the 7th green. We have covered the other areas of damage with sections of covers. I’m leaving the black enkamat on as long as possible to help bring soil temperatures up. This week we will be working on the irrigation system; we will need water for recovery. Once we have this in place we will seed, fertilize and topdress the damaged areas. Covers will be used as much as possible to help initiate germination and speed up growth. The greens will all have to start the year at a higher height of cut in order to allow for establishment. I will be keeping all growth regulators off the greens until they have fully established. Our goal will be to grow as much bent as possible, but the reality is with traffic and low cutting heights we will end up with more poa than desired. Speaking with other Superintendents in the county we are almost all in the same boat, some a little worse than others perhaps. We are currently at least 10 days behind courses both to the North and South of us. The reason is our microclimate is a bit cooler than others. We tend to hold onto our snow and ice for longer periods of time. Our current soil temperatures are in the low to mid 40’s. Nothing will happen until we reach temperatures of 55 to 60 degrees on a consistent basis.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Best place for updates is to follow me on twitter @jerstack. Its where I post course pictures and daily updates plus a ton of other golf industry content. The blog is cumbersome, facebook is more for family and friends while twitter I try and keep more professional. Thanks. 

Jeremy Stachowicz
Golf Course Superintendent
Wahconah CC


As the snow melts it leaves behind the real bad guy. The huge ice layer we accumulated over the winter. Here on 14 fairway you can see the large amount of ice remaining. 

Jeremy Stachowicz
Golf Course Superintendent
Wahconah CC

Thursday, April 2, 2015

April 2

Good news. I can see the top of the water fountain on 4 tee.

Jeremy Stachowicz
Golf Course Superintendent
Wahconah CC

Thursday, March 19, 2015

USGA: The Big Melt - March 2015

USGA: The Big Melt - March 2015

The Big Melt

By David Oatis, director, Northeast Region

March 16, 2015

Snow and ice are melting,
but shaded areas are the last to clear, which makes them more likely to experience
damaging freeze thaw cycles.

and ice cover gradually is receding from courses in the Northeast, and
while most courses still are covered in the north, most are free of snow
and ice in the central and southern parts of the region. Now the
challenge becomes determining
whether or not injury has been sustained and whether it is extensive.
have been detected at numerous courses, but that in itself does not
guarantee that damage has occurred. Nonetheless, damage has been
documented in Pennsylvania, New
Jersey, New
York, New
England and southern Canada, but the extent is not fully known.

This can be a tricky time for turf managers. There often is a strong
desire to take action, but weakened turf can be pushed over the edge by
being too aggressive too soon. Keep the following points in mind as you
weigh options:

  • Make sure that no damming occurs as
    snow and ice is removed and/or melts. Shoveling drainage channels and using
    darkening agents can speed the melting process, but don’t enhance melting
    unless the weather is favorable. As Jim Skorulski wrote in the last Northeast Regional Update,
    “work with the weather.”
  • Turf plants can be closely examined
    for signs of life, but the only surefire proof of life comes when they
    break dormancy and begin to grow… or not. Incubating plugs is a great way
    to get an indication of turf viability.
  • Don’t be misled by color; it is not
    a foolproof predictor of turf health. Chlorophyll will be preserved by frozen
    conditions, so even turf that has sustained considerable injury may
    initially appear green and healthy once the snow and ice melt. Green water
    flowing off turf during snow and ice melt can be an indication that turfgrass
    plant cells have ruptured and are leaking chlorophyll.
  • Turf that is in a weakened state as a result of prolonged
    ice cover may survive, but its weakened state can leave it susceptible to
    a variety of other stresses, including additional freeze thaw cycles and
    golfer and equipment traffic.
    • Do not open greens too quickly following snow
      and ice melt. Soft, saturated soils are more prone to compaction, foot
      printing and rutting. Traffic
      on weakened turf will
      cause more injury.
    • Maintenance activities such as
      cultivation may be necessary to get seed in the ground if damage
      has occurred.
      However, weak plants that have nearly exhausted their carbohydrate
      reserves are more susceptible to damage
      from cultivation processes. It is important to get seed in the ground,
      but don’t rush it and push more turf over
      the edge.
    • Get the irrigation system up and
      running quickly. Dry conditions can be lethal to weakened turf.
  • Covers can be very helpful
    in promoting growth and recovery from damage, so
    get them out and cover known damaged areas right away. Covers also will
    protect weak turf from cold, dry winds.
  • If you have damage, be prepared
    to seed using multiple methods. Drop seeding following hollow-core
    aeration combined with slit seeding using newer, less-disruptive
    implements are all excellent approaches. Follow seeding with multiple, light fertilizer
    applications to promote more growth.
  • Planting small plugs (3 inch works well) from your nursery a couple of inches apart in damaged
    areas also can help tremendously. The plugs effectively raise the mowing
    height which helps protect weak turf and seedlings. Transplanting cores
    with soil probes and aerators also works well.
Unquestionably, the most important step in promoting rapid
recovery is to keep traffic off
of damaged areas. Opening damaged
greens before they’ve healed will prolong recovery time. Temporary
greens aggravate golfers,
but having to close greens that haven’t healed later in the spring is
even more aggravating. If your greens are open and still
recovering in May and June, you have missed the boat. For the latest
information on the role of potassium in winter damage, check
out the latest blog
post from Dr. Jim Murphy at Rutgers University:

Source: David Oatis (