How do you find a golf ball on a snowy golf course? You don’t.
Golf and winter weather don’t mix. Nobody wants to play in the snow. And that’s a good thing, considering no golf course management team has been able to figure out a way to make that happen. When temperatures start to fall, golf courses close shop and wait for spring to thaw everything out.
However, there’s a lot to do to ensure things are ready for the next season. If your management team doesn’t have some winter golf course management tips up their sleeve, you course could be in bad shape when the snow finally melts. Make sure you use a weather tracking software so you know when a cold front is moving in before your turf freezes over
1. Take Care Of Your Turf
Turfgrass management is one of the most important focus areas for any golf course superintendent. Without well-maintained turf you really don’t have much to offer members. Can you remember a winter that didn’t negatively impact your turfgrass management? We didn’t think so.
So how do minimize the damage? Let me explain a few different ways to do just that. First, you’ll want to find areas of shade that have grown over the past season. Shade from trees will hurt you turf in the winter. This is because turfgrass growing in the shade simply isn’t as healthy as turfgrass growing in the sun. Improve sunlight penetration before the winter sets in to avoid winterkill events.
The next thing you need to do is assess if your course needs covers. Turf covers are great for allowing grass to breath and retain the right amount of heat and moisture while protecting turf from severe winter weather. Depending on the winter weather outlook and your location, turf cover needs are different.
2. Store Your Equipment Properly
Next on our list of winter golf course management tips is to store equipment properly. Your golf carts, clubs, and turf management equipment can’t survive unprotected throughout the winter. It’s a good idea to invest some economical winter protection for equipment. This includes greenhouses and other structures.
It’s also important to service and inspect these pieces of equipment before you store them. It’s time to do restorations and swap out old equipment. What’s even better is that suppliers often offer special preseason prices and manufacturers and dealers have special preseason pricing on new machinery.
3. Organize Your Winter Projects
There’s no down time in golf, not even in the winter! After golf course management takes care of the greens and equipment, it’s time to take on winter projects. The best golf courses are constantly maintaining their grounds to ensure members have the best experience when they get back on the green.
Most clubs have winter projects lined up. It’s key to organize these projects ahead of time so that employees know what their responsibilities are when the first flake falls. Inspections of equipment like irrigation systems and mower blades must be done annually. The winter is a great time for this! It’s also a great time for testing soil and water. By testing soil in early winter, you can you can anticipate any changes or problems for the upcoming season. Winter is a good time to establish baseline numbers on water purity as well. Make sure to run the test again mid-summer to assess the ranges of water quality used.
Other areas that you need to maintain over the winter include golf cart paths, bunkers, and indoor facilities. For example, bunkers typically last five to seven years before they need to be replaced. Replacing them over the winter ensures you’re not disrupting golfers.
Whatever your winter projects are, be sure to organize them in a way that helps you get them all done. Try to think of the projects that can be done before snow falls and how much time each project will take.
Not only does the safety of your turf and equipment matter throughout the year, but so does the safety of your golfers. Different risks threaten golf safety in Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. As golf course professionals, it’s important to understand those risks and prepare to prevent them as much as possible.