From your GCSAA Field Staff, Kevin Doyle:
We often talk about the networking and camaraderie this industry exemplifies. Sharing knowledge amongst ourselves is standard practice. Mother Nature dished out anxiety to most, while some came through in good to great shape, others did not. Superintendents, through a swath of central New York, the Capital District of Albany, western Massachusetts down through Connecticut, areas of New York and northern New Jersey are dealing with damage of various proportion. On Friday April 1, Springfield Country Club (MA) superintendent Jedd Newsome put together a roundtable meeting, as he did in 2015, inviting area superintendents with Michelle DaCosta, Ph.D., of UMass, and John Daniels, regional USGA agronomist, to add their input. Club officials were asked to attend; meeting content was geared toward all attendees.
DaCosta gave a summary of the winter weather including the warm December, very cold January, followed by the roller coaster February. Data sensors being utilized by ongoing research showed January soil temp (at a one-half inch depth) less than 20 degrees, followed by a February that included three or four events where soil temperatures reached 40-60 degrees!
DaCosta noted these swings in temperature are more in line with March, not February. Huge moisture releases were measured by the sensors in February, even under ice, creating potential for injury to Poa which de-hardens easily with temperature and easily absorbs moisture.
Sensors under ice showed less fluctuation in temperature and much less moisture release, yet the drop in oxygen levels were severe. Noting how carbon dioxide levels have yet to be addressed, DaCosta engaged Mohawk Golf Course superintendent Andy Eick regarding his green tied to this data. Eick explained to the attendees that the green under ice turned out to be the best green on the property to date.
Daniels discussed results of his many site visits from New York to Massachusetts, and many in between. The importance of sunshine in fall turf health headed into winter and spring recovery was highlighted. Daniels stressed the importance of photos in documenting these difficult growing conditions.
Use of permeable and impermeable covers was discussed. Daniels addressed the benefits of each in preventing damage, issues that can occur and the use of covers to aide in recovery. Newsome highlighted his use of covers on his historically difficult greens and the success this effort has made.
Newsone wrapped up the day by noting during his 13-year tenure at Springfield Country Club, he’s endured six years of significant winterkill issues. He extended his thanks to the club for their patience and understanding during recovery. He stressed the need to stay off the greens until they recover while admitting the pressure on municipal and public facilities might make that impossible. Newsome’s mantra for keeping the stress off the greens: By June 1, the golfers will all have forgotten what happened.
Newsome thanked the club for allowing him to host, the Tom Irwin Company for providing lunch, and all who attended. There were great questions with fantastic information provided by speakers and attendees alike. Knowing you are not alone doesn’t ease any of the pain and anxiety the situation places on superintendents, but it does alert others of the circle of peers with whom you can look to for assistance and support. A rising tide raises all ships; let the healing process begin.
Visit @JeddNewsome on twitter for a YouTube link to watch the event.