In an article written for the Owatonna (Minn.) People’s Press, Golf Superintendent Rick Smith considers the pros and cons of allowing winter play on a golf course, noting that turf health is of the utmost importance, and possible consequences for allowing winter play include bumpy and uneven putting surfaces, slower greens, and footprinting.
In an article written for the Owatonna (Minn.) People’s Press, Rick Smith, Golf Superintendent of Brooktree Golf Course, details the pros and cons of allowing winter play on golf courses.
“Even though a cold and snowy winter is forecast for 2016-2017, a mild winter is always a possibility, and our fall seems to be extending out further and further each year,” Smith wrote. “With this, golf course superintendents have the challenge of allowing winter play or avoiding it. Believe me, this is not an easy decision to make when you want your turf healthy, you want your revenues to meet budget, and you want to keep your golfers happy.
“Personally, I believe keeping the turf healthy has to be your number one priority. If your greens are bad, it’s been proven that golfers will not return. Now explaining the effects of winter play and the damage it can do to the golf course is the hard part.
“There’s been more than once that I’ve heard ‘We only have a few groups that play much during the winter, how much damage can we do?’ on the surface those comments seem quite valid, but everything is a matter of degree. If a single round were played, the potential for serious damage would be nothing, but can the same be said for 10, 20 or 50 rounds?
“Golf course superintendents know that winter play can harm greens and in some instances have greatly affected the playability the following golf season. Possible consequences include: bumpy and uneven putting surfaces, greens are slower to develop during the spring and footprinting is often a problem.
“Really, what it comes down to is what you want form the greens during the regular season. If you want top-quality turf from spring through fall involving close mowing, double-mowing, lean fertilization, minimal watering, then it is best to avoid winter play. If the golfers don’t mind higher cutting heights, slower speeds and greater inconsistency, then winter golf was made for them.
“[Winter is] definitely is our slow time, but there are different tasks that are going on at the golf course. Typical jobs would include equipment repair and maintenance, reel sharpening, budget preparation, long and short term planning, staff evaluation and professional development. Also, depending on snow amounts, work on tree maintenance.”