Winter Turf Management
Ever wonder what goes into winter maintenance to create the pristine golf turf you enjoy all summer long? This blog comes to you from Eagle Valley Golf Club’s Superintendent and all around turf professional Alex McLeod.
“I’ve been in the turf industry since 1986. 28 years of turf management and grounds keeping has provided me with the skills and expertise to recognize the nuances of maintaining golf course landscapes. At Eagle Valley Golf Club I manage the turf and turf maintenance crew. The agronomic zone of a golf course requires a very specific skill set. Agronomy is the science and technology of producing and using plants for food, fuel, fiber, and land reclamation. It encompasses work in the areas of plant genetics, plant physiology, meteorology, and soil science. Agronomy is the application of a combination of sciences like biology, chemistry, economics, ecology, earth science, and genetics.
Golf course management factors in irrigation and drainage, grass controlling, plant physiology, soil classification, soil fertility, weed control, and insect and pest control throughout the summer, but winter maintenance is imperative for year round turf health. It is my job to worry about ice and snow suffocating the greens. Ice for turf is like putting a plastic bag over your head: it suffocates.
I work hard with my crew to prevent this by removing the snow from the greens using a tractor and blade. This allows the grass to breath by first cutting down to the ice and then poking through ice using shovels and axes which will cause the ice to melt over time. This process is long and tedious, but we must take extra care to not damage the turf while trying to salvage it.
During the winter months we also take advantage of tree hibernation and use this time for pruning. These efforts secure a healthy and vibrant turf come summer. Once the spring rolls in we can stop concerning ourselves with ice and focus on spring cleaning; warm weather signals the start of debris cleanup and we work at polishing up the sticks and scrap that clutter the course throughout the winter.”