How proactive should a course be in its approach to seeding greens? ASGCA Past President Bob Lohmann writes for “Golf Course Industry” magazine that this past, brutal winter has many courses re-thinking their approach.
Lohmann raises several intriguing thoughts, starting with a recap of Mother Nature’s impact on many courses in early 2014.
“If you manage a golf course in America’s northern tier, and your greens are largely poa annua, my heart goes out to you. Perhaps I should say, your greens “were” poa annua. This winter was, of course, a poa-killer for all time and hundreds, if not thousands of superintendents, are still dealing with the aftermath.
“Here’s something of a radical thought: If your greens require major inter-seeding, and it’s late May or early June, does it make sense to keep on inter-seeding into the summer? Are you better off playing on the winterkilled greens through the summer (or playing temporaries), then shutting the greens down for reseeding along with traditional timelines, i.e. at the end of August?
“’That’s a tough call. It really is,’ said Brian Chalifoux, superintendent at Fort Wayne (Ind.) Country Club, where our firm helped oversee the rebuilding/reseeding of all 18 greens last summer. ‘Most of the guys that really have problems each spring are up north. They have it every year, and they fight through it. The poa comes back and they’re used to this scenario. But this year? They had so much damage.
“’You can look at it both ways. If you open the greens and they’re poor, you’re going to have some dissatisfied customers. But at least you’re still playing them, so the loss of revenues during the prime summer months will not be as high as if you closed altogether.'”
Lohmann then plays devil’s advocate to show another viewpoint.
“If you fight your way back to something approaching full coverage over the summer, thereby not losing as much revenue, you still have greens infested with poa annua — poa annua that will die the next time the conditions are ripe for winterkill. It’s the same poa annua, by the way, your competitor down the street (with their pure A-4 bentgrass greens) will be reminding potential members as they recruit them away from your course!
“There’s no single rule of thumb when you have a winter like we just experienced here in the Midwest, or a spring with so much rain and such low soil temperatures. But there is one major rule of thumb that doesn’t get fudged, ever: When you’re seeding anything, you have to be proactive in your approach, determining your desired opening date first — then working back from there.”
Read the article in full here.