As I sit here writing this, to date, we have had a Chicagoland winter. Started the season with a nice snowfall, had it all melt in a couple of days, extreme cold temperatures, above normal temperatures, and lots of wind. So, how do we prepare the golf course for all mother nature has in store for us?

We start in the fall with an application of fertilizer. This application is one of the most important for the health of the turf. It increases the food that is stored in the plant to help it get it through the cold weather. This food is also used to keep the roots growing until the ground freezes. A good root system means good turf cover. It also encourages early green up in the spring. We also monitor the soil moisture, so if we need to we can irrigate before we have to winterize the irrigation system.

Greens, tees and banks are then sprayed with medicine to prevent disease that can occur with the right conditions in the off season. One part of this application is some antidesiccant to help prevent wind burn or drying out of the leaf tissues. Timing of this application is critical so it is not too early and will not last the season, or too late and there is snow cover!

A layer of sand is applied to all of the putting surfaces. This layer covers the crown or growing portion of the turf plant to protect it from swings in the temperatures. It also helps to prevent desiccation of the leaf tissue. It has an added benefit of helping keep the geese off the greens in the off season. Traffic is kept off the putting surfaces to ensure they will be in good shape come spring. Walking on them when they are frozen or when they are thawing can damage the crown, or growing point, or possibly shear off the roots. Both what we are trying to protect or grow with all of our cultural practices.

With the blessing of mother nature and our preparation, we will come thru the winter in good shape and have the course open sooner than you think for your enjoyment. See you in the Spring!

Dan Murray, GCSAA
Golf and Grounds Superintendent