A close up of the 14 green showing progress of germination.

West Hills


/ Greenside blog

The Recovery Process

In early March we rented a skid steer with a snow blower attachment to clear the snow from the greens.  The goal, as it is every year,  is to expose the ice on the greens but not expose the bare turf. Usually the process take about two days as most of the greens only have ice in the low points. This year was much different. It took me close to six days to expose all the ice. Every single green had three to four inches of ice. Here’s a link to a video I took during that process.

As you can see there was complete coverage of ice all the way around the green, which meant trouble.

Right around Christmas time there was period of three or four days where the snow melted and reduced down to puddles on any low lying areas on the course. Because the ground was frozen the water remained at the surface it eventually formed thick layers of ice. That followed by some rain events in early January and we end up in a situation of complete ice coverage. The damage associated with ice is usually dependent on the duration of coverage, and from Christmas to April it was just too much for the turf.

Snow thawing on the 3 green. There are bleached areas showing where ice damaged the turf.
April 12 2019, three green.

The bleached areas are the places where the ice had sat and choked out the turf.

A close up of the turf showing ice damage.
Little to no turf left in the ice damaged areas

There damage was pretty wide spread, with only 18, 9, 10, the chipping green, 1 and 2 with minimal damage. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14 had sever damage and the rest moderate damage. By mid April we were planning the recovery process.

The first step was to remove the rest of the ice, we did so with black sand. It absorbed the heat from the sun and melted the ice with out damaging the turf. Once all the ice was gone we assessed the damage and planned out route for action.

The steps were as follows;

  1. Aerate the greens with 1/4 inch solid tines to create holes for the seed to reside. We did this in four different directions on each green.
  2. Apply the bent grass seed at 1.5 lbs per 1000 ft squared in two different directions for a total of three pounds.
  3. Top dress the greens with Usga approved sand
  4. Brush seed and sand into the holes created by the aeration
  5. Roll the greens for good soil to seed contact.
  6. Top dress with black sand to draw heat and increase temperatures.
  7. Fertilize with liquid and granular fertilizer.
  8. Cover the areas with breathable tarps that would passively magnify the suns heat and speed up germination.
  9. Water two to three times a day for a short period.
  10. Wait for mother nature to help out.

 Here’s a link to a video of some of those things.

By April 28 we had all of the problem areas seeded and were waiting to germination to happen.  Unfortunately, temperatures just weren’t there. The germination has been sporadic and thin. While the tarps help elevate the day time temperature the nights are just too cold. The pictures below show some germination but not enough to back fill the voids.

A close up of the green showing some germination.
A close up of the 14 green showing progress of germination.

We have made some progress, here’s 14 green over the last two weeks

The 14 green on April 26th, 2019. Freshly seeded.
April 26, 2019. 14 Green, the first green we seeded.
The 14 green on May 3rd, 2019 showing signs of germination.
May 3, 2019. 14 Green
The 14 green on May 17, 2019. The damage has been significantly reduced.
May 17, 2019, 14 Green

Mother Nature is simply not helping us out. As of today we have put the tarps back on and they will remain there until Tuesday, although the forecast doesn’t look great. I’ve taken some comparison photos to see the different and will share the results when the tarps are removed. Here are this weeks.

The 3 green showing germination.
Number three. May 17 2019
The 8 green showing germination.
Number 8. May 17, 2019
The 16 green showing slight damage from the ice.
Number 16. May 17, 2019
The 8 green showing germination.
Number 8. May 17, 2019

This has been a difficult spring for myself, the staff and our clients. While we would like to have the course open as soon as possible, its clear that we still have some distance to go. To be responsible to the golfers and the course, its necessary to keep play off of the course to get some establishment in place prior to stressing the plants. I will be updating this blog often so you can follow our progress, if you have any questions pleas feel free to comment, or contact me directly. I will also post frequently on Twitter at @WestHillsSuper. Stay Tuned!