As of Tuesday this week we have officially set our opening date as May 20. Our original target was earlier but the weather just hasn’t been co-operating. If your curious as to what metrics we use to determine the opening date, I hope this blog post will answer some of your questions.
There are a number of factors that influence the decision to open the golf course, with soil temperatures probably being the most important. As the soil temperatures increase plants begin the process of breaking dormancy, some plants earlier than others. Things like hostas, crocus and forsythia are often the first to begin activity, while perennials like ferns, wisteria and hydrangeas usually become active later in the spring.
Bent grass, the turf species that we have seeded the green to, generally becomes active around 12 to 15 degrees, but doesn’t really take off until the soil reaches 17 to 20 degrees Celsius.
So how does that effect the opening? Its about the regenerative processes of the plant. Playing golf and all the things that go with the sport causes damage to the turf that under normal growing conditions can be handled by the plants. In the spring when the plants are not fully active and somewhat tender the damage can set the plants back.
The other factor is really important is damage recovery. With the poor winters we have had in the past three years, its taken longer for the turf to recover. This obviously reduces our eagerness to open quickly.
This spring has been a bit of an outlier. We had a very warm, dry stretch in late April which forced us to start up the irrigation, followed by snow and cold weather returning in May. Fortunately the warm weather allowed for the plants to begin breaking dormancy, but the cold May so far has arrested any growth at all. My expectations is that the weather over the next few days will push the turf to where we can see it healthy enough t play on. Thursday through Sunday look to be good growing days with the night time temperature above freezing, allowing us to look, with some confidence, to opening on Wednesday.
The course conditions are pretty good right now. 11, 12 ad 13 greens are still the worst off from the winter, but with a bit warmth they should return quickly. All weak spots have been seeded, and Thursday this week we will have completed our second cut. The tees are not great, with damage to 1, 2, 4, 13, 14, and 18. All of these have been seeded and we are waiting for the recovery process to begin when the weather warms up.
Please remember that when we open the course will not be in summer condition. As of last Monday we still had snow on the course. Between the slow spring and limited staff we haven’t been able to bring the course up to standard but given a few nice days and the staff returning now things should improve quickly.
As with most of the current things in our lives there will be some change to the way the golf course functions. Most of which will be small inconveniences, that shouldn’t make a great difference to the game, but will help to keep the staff and the clients safe. To limit the contact points among both staff and clients the ball washers, club washers, divot boxes, benches and garbage cans will be removed from the course.
At the end of the ninth hole and the 18th hole 2 garbage and 2 recycling containers will be available for use. Please keep you garbage with you and deposit it into the correct container.
We will also be removing any of the bunker rakes from the course as they are also a shared object that could transmit the Covid-19 virus. We will be increasing the number of times the traps are raked per week to help maintain the traps. Please smooth out the sand as best as possible with either your foot or club until its possible to return the rakes.
We would also ask that you not touch or remove the flag from the hole. We have created a plug that fits into the using drainage caps that allow water to flow through the cup.
It will allow your ball to drop partial into the hole and is designed to not allow golfers to reach into the cup. I know this is not ideal, and perhaps the biggest inconvenience, but it’s this way to reduce interaction. Here’s a video of me putting into the cup.
For a period of time the carts will be cart path only. This is to reduce traffic on the fairways during the time when we are seeding and recovering the turf. When the carts are allow on the turf they will be four per tee time. Please do your best to not drive on the fairways, or in any weak areas that are process of regrowing. This is not a rule but rather an ask, as the increased traffic will surly cause problems. Good Luck, stay safe and see you out there.