Who could’ve predicted this winter! While many of you have been getting your extra swings in, we have been very busy at Richter Park getting the course ready for a great 2012 season.
We did not take lightly, the winter damage to the greens in 2011. Nor are we planning to ignore the possibility of another extremely wet season. And even as we continue to clean up after the Halloween snow storm, our resolve has not changed – to return exceptional course conditions to Richter Park Golf Course.
Over 140 trees were damaged by the October storm.
Prior to the unprecedented October winter storm, we began a long overdue greens drainage project. Eight greens now have a total of over 54,000 square feet of drainage designed to eliminate pooling of water.
It appears as though winter has just begun. And though it might seem unlikely, there still remains plenty of opportunity for extreme winter weather. And we are (more than) ready.
In anticipation of a prolonged cold wet snowy winter, the first order of business was to perform deep-tine aeration on all 18 greens and putting greens. Special aerating equipment purchased last fall allows us to open up channels of up to 12 inches in the greens. The purpose of this type of aeration is to allow for winter drainage – move the water as far from the surface as possible and minimize the potential for crown hydration and freeze injury.
Repeated rain not only washes out bunkers, but also packs the sand. Before snow cover came, our crews hauled over 50 tons out to bunkers that were probed and checked indicating that they needed sand. We are now ready to restore all bunkers to their proper depths prior to our 2012 opening.
This winter we are also taking a pro-active approach to water diversion. Hay bales have been placed strategically to prevent pooling (and freezing) of water on the greens.
The use of covers seems to be one that evokes a lot of emotion among golfers and “wanna-be” golf course superintendents. To cover or not to cover remains a debate not soon to end. Covers would not have prevented the 2011 greens damage. This damage occurred after a late winter thaw and re-freeze and happened long after covers would have been removed in preparation of opening.
We did, at one point during the 2011 season, employ the use of covers. This was done in an effort to direct traffic away from specific areas. Currently, there are 8 covered greens at Richter Park. The covers are permeable – they breathe and let water through. At this time, the covers are being used to protect young, immature bent grass from wind, desiccation and extreme temperature fluctuations.
An added benefit during this unseasonably warm winter (to date at least) is the insulation they provide. Temperatures under the covers can get up to 12 degrees warmer. While the turf is dormant now, growth under the covers continued for several weeks longer than normally expected.
Just because we are now snow covered doesn’t keep us from working toward providing you with a great product. The clock is ticking - less than 70 days separate us from the start of the 2012 golf season!