SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – With Christmas approaching, some of you may fill your time off by hitting a golf course. Perhaps you’ll need to try out new clubs that Santa left under the tree. The colder, winter weather doesn’t stop golf, but the courses need some special care.
It’s all about the behavior of grass in winter.
Lance Allen is the course superintendent for Woodfin Ridge Golf Club in Inman. He’s already overseeded some areas with rye grass to green up some areas, as Bermuda grass goes dormant in winter. He knows that his efforts will be dictated by what the weather does.
“During the wintertime is when superintendents really have to be in tune with the weather, be in tune with the forecast,” Allen said.
Cold air can turn green grass to brown, but a lack of moisture is as much to blame. Even dormant grass needs water, and cold, dry air accelerates that need. Even in winter, Allen has to water the greens when necessary.
“We’ll run our irrigation cycles right after the sun goes down when the temperature is up, and that way it has a chance to get into the soil profile. We will use products, wetting agents, those are products that decrease the surface tension of the water and allow it to percolate into the root zone a little bit better,” he explained.
Putting greens need their own attention, including paint.
“We do it about every three to four weeks. It’s just a way to kind of differentiate the green surfaces, the putting surfaces from the rest of the golf course,” Allen said.
For protection, the greens get covered if a hard nighttime freeze is imminent, especially if daytime temperatures won’t get out of the 30s. That installation can be a challenge at times.
“Putting these things out is kind of tough when you’re trying to juggle it around golf and as well as juggling around your weather system. These guys, they know what it’s like to put something this size out when it’s really windy, they have to keep it low or it can turn into a big giant sail,” he explained.
At Woodfin Ridge they only close for Christmas day or because of snow on the course. But some snow can help the course, according to Allen.
“Snow for us, I would say a couple of days of it actually helps lock in that moisture, insulate that putting surface to where it doesn’t get absolutely cold,” Allen said.
When it snows, some courses will play nine holes instead of 18 as parts of the course clear out more quickly than others. If there’s some snow on the ground and you have a scheduled tee time, call ahead.
When the course is clear, what do winter conditions mean for how the game plays? Usually, a faster game. Dormant grass allows for more roll to the ball.
If your game improves this winter with a new set of clubs, you may need to give some credit to the turf, too. And your course’s grounds crew.