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How To Prepare Your Putting Green For Winter

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How To Prepare Your Putting Green For Winter
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Rain, drought, wind and temperature extremes impact the way ball rolls, bounces and even flies in the air. Despite weather being summer, winter or spring, the superintendent has to maintain resilient surfaces to offer consistent playing conditions. Heavy rain can cause soft conditions. Freeze-thaw cycle, ice formation, or dangerous occurrences such as flash freeze can bring about catastrophic turf damage. These tough winter conditions can be very difficult to manage.  

When days are shorter and daylight your golf course receives is inadequate, the solar panels of turf i.e. turfgrass leaf blades cannot produce adequate energy required to fuel growth. You are not going to get an extra hour to sleep. So, wear your work boots. It is important to make the putting greens winter-ready. You have to perform tree work to make sure that the grass receives maximum possible sunlight. We don’t place solar panels in the shade. 

So, even when the temperature is mild if the winter is around the corner, you have to take the following steps to prepare your putting green for winter: 

Raise Mowing Heights

  • Readjust your Toro golf course mowers to raise mowing height. This increases the surface area exposed to available sunlight. As a result, grass can generate and store the energy required to survive tough winter conditions.         
  • Doing so also reduces turf stress. You need to make sure that the turf is not in a weakened state while it enters cold weather. As compared to healthy turf, weakened turf experiences more winter injury. 

Evaluate Sunlight Penetration

  • Turf needs sunlight to harden off during fall. This reinforces the turf to harsh conditions of winter. 
  • It doesn’t matter whether the turf is growing or not, make sure that adequate surface area is exposed to sunlight. Winter sunlight melts ice and snow. The frequency of thaw cycles and freeze is also reduced. This also prevents winter injury. 

Consider Drainage

  • The turf hardens off properly when conditions are dry. 
  • Collar dams are a frequent problem you have to address.
  • Surface depression can increase the risk of winter injury. You can take the following steps to reduce this risk: 
    • Removing strips of sod create channels. These channels drain excess water from the turf.   
    • You can also install heating cables in these drainage channels. These cables keep the water from freezing. 
    • If you find subsurface drainage in putting greens, cut holes from the surface to drain lines. 
  • You can improve drainage with deep aeration. This supports better drainage and hardens off the turf. This also makes the turf less vulnerable to winter injury. 

Plan Fertility 

  • Keep an eye on nitrogen application. Putting green covered with tarp should not receive nitrogen application as this can be risky. Turf becomes more prone to winter injuries.    
  • Potassium levels should be adequate as this increases the risk of winter injury, especially on Poa annua putting greens. Turf uses only the required amount of potassium. Excessive potassium levels are not going to help. Excessive levels can also increase snow mold. It is a turf disease that can cause serious damage or kill grass when the snow starts melting in late winter. 

They say when grass and trees compete, trees always win. So, make sure that the turf is exposed to direct sunlight. You have to prepare the turf before winter arrives. The turf should not be weak when the winter is around the corner. So, prepare your golf course for winter before it is too late. This does not only prevent winter injury but also improve springtime playing conditions. Make sure that your Toro golf course mowers and other pieces of equipment are also winter-ready.

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Mahesh is leading digital marketing initiatives at RecentlyHeard, a NewsFeed platform that covers news from all sectors. He develops, manages, and executes digital strategies to increase online visibility, better reach target audiences, and create engaging experience across channels. With 7+ years of experience, He is skilled in search engine optimization, content marketing, social media marketing, and advertising, and analytics.

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