Maintaining Turf Conditions Through Event Closures
Events all over the country are being canceled or postponed due to COVID-19, and golf tournaments and courses are no exception. While this can be disappointing for superintendents, golf course staff, players, and fans, there is a plus side—undisturbed turf maintenance. As we head further into spring, your course can work on repairs without having to schedule closures—as well as put plans in place to keep open play safe.
In a time when your course may be looking at temporary closures or limiting play, this gives you a few extra weeks to get your turf ready for warmer weather. Because the first mow varies on environmental factors like temperature and moisture levels, course staff can take the time needed to make sure they are accommodating the most critical part of the course—the playing surface.
It all starts with the first cut of the season and the decision of how low to go. Weather will be a significant factor of when that will happen, especially between warm and cool-season grasses, but having a plan in place is vital. Sticking to the “One-Third” rule—not removing more than a third of the leaf tissue in a mow—is ideal for most courses. Before sending your mowers out, make sure you roll the greens to keep everything smooth and reduce the chance of scalping your turf.
Spring is a great time to test your soil for pH and nutrient deficiencies. Doing this will help determine what type of fertilizer your greens need and how much. Spring is the optimal time to apply, and we recommend using one of our fertilizer lines with pre-emergent.
You should also be planning out your agronomic practices, including aerification. Aerification is an essential practice for playing surfaces that are routinely affected by heavy machinery and foot traffic. It allows root systems to grow deeper and denser, dilutes thatch, and can improve the playability and firmness of the course.
Have any projects your course has been putting off? Now would be the perfect time to make them happen. Especially those repairs or renovations that require the closure of the course such as tree removal, drainage projects, or bunker repair.
You can also implement small modifications to keep open play as germ-free as possible—like raising your cups or placing foam inserts in so players do not have to remove the flagstick or reach down to retrieve the ball.
Keeping staff and players safe during this time will be a new challenge for superintendents, but there are some ways to do this. Waiting to put out things like benches, tee markers, and even garbage cans will help eliminate the point of contact. Ramping up your courses cleaning procedures will also be of utmost importance. This step includes adding extra time for staff to wipe down carts, equipment, and surfaces that are major points of contact. For staff, keeping them on a rotating schedule will maintain that contact between employees stays to a minimum and ensure they are working on projects alone.
These are uncertain times for everyone, and the best thing to do for your course is to have a plan in place—whether that involves closing for the next month or limiting to open play. The upside of these closures means you can focus more on your turf so that players can expect the best possible course conditions when business resumes as usual.