Spring, where have you been all my life?
Wow, what can I say, what a long winter! The golf course has been closed due to snow/low temperatures since December 4, with opening day occurring April 11 for the back 9 and April 20 for the front 9. In the 4+ years of my tenure, this has been, by far, the longest and most challenging winter for the Spearfish Canyon Golf Club maintenance department. We had to remove snow from #5 green on three occasions over the winter season while #4 and #7 greens required removal once.
I am very pleased with our turfgrass health coming out of winter, especially when considering the brutal length of winter and the high amount of snow. The long term agronomical plan, which was put in action in 2014, is really starting to pay off. With well-timed aeration, fertilizing, fungicide application and watering, the turfgrass has been entering winter in better health allowing for a much sturdier plant for the start of the season.
We are really beginning to see a difference in our new turfgrass cultivars, as they take over in the fairways which have been over-seeded in the past four seasons. The front 9 fairways have never had so little winterkill entering the golf season, in particular hole #7 fairway, one with which we always have a significant issue. Our new bluegrass cultivars are more winter hardy, drought tolerant, and shade tolerant.
The greens had very little winter kill, with minimal damage to holes #2, #4, #5 and #7. These areas have already been over-seeded and new bentgrass cultivars introduced. We have implemented L-93 HD, which is a great cool season bentgrass developed for higher elevation golf courses. This cultivar was chosen for its winter hardiness, low mowing height tolerance, drought tolerance and shade tolerance. In the coming years, L-93 HD will be the only seed that will be introduced into our greens complexes.
The maintenance department was not able to start working on the golf course until March 27. Mowing did not start until April 25. It has been quite a change from 2017, when the entire 18 holes were open February 20, with mowing beginning March 1. With the late spring start, the maintenance department has been playing catch up. But I am confident in my staff and looking forward to a great 2018 golf season.
Spearfish Canyon Golf Club
Golf Course Superintendent