Course Condition Challenges

The winter and spring of 2019/2020 presented some unusual challenges for Niakwa’s turf staff.

For starters, the month of November saw three separate rounds of slush removal from the greens. The first was in mid November, the second on the 19th, and the third, and most severe, on November 25. Shawn and his full time crew handled the first two removals, but on November 25, it was all hands on deck with Wade and Terry also pitching in. Read More>>

The City of Winnipeg received rain from November 21st through November 24 – with rain through the night on the 24th. Shawn mustered the troups on the 25th with the greens looking like this:

Back Left of 16 Green Covered in a sea of Slurpee

The slush was 4 inches deep on all the greens.

4 Inches of Heavy Wet Slush Covered all the Greens

If you cleared your driveway on November 25th, you know how heavy and wet the slush was. The crew could only work with shovels, with a little help from the ‘Sand Pro’.

18 Green with the Slush Removed. The ‘Sand Pro’ is in the Background

Even with the cleanup effort puddling still occurred. The puddling shown in the photo of 7 green, below, is where the green was in poor shape this spring.

7 Green Partly Done with Puddles Forming

After the slush was removed from the greens Shawn’s crew spread black sand to further break down the slush and to help the heat migrate through the ice.

Black Sand was Spread to Absorb Heat

The end result of this effort was that the tips of grass blades were able to protrude through the ice layer. While not an ideal condition, this allowed the grass to perspire and work through the winter.

Closeup of the Grass Blades Protruding through the Slush

Despite the substantial effort of our Turf Crew, water repooled on 17 Green. The green is very low, and drains poorly. That was a cause for concern throughout the winter.

In spring, we had a decent snow melt around the end of March. At that time, conditions looked great and it appeared the course had wintered very well. Mother Nature had another idea, unfortunately, and April saw some record low temperatures. Exposed grass, left over moisture and temperatures as low as -19 C were very damaging to fairways and greens – in particular 17 green which was still saturated.

Since the Course opened in early May, traffic has been heavy with the tee sheet jammed every day. Fairways have not had a chance to recover yet despite the TLC from the Turf Crew.

Compounding the recovery of the fairways, this spring has been extremely dry, with only 11 mm of rain so far. The poa annua on the fairways has not get a chance to recover before going into defense mode.

Despite the weather challenges our newer bent grass greens are doing very well. Shawn feels that the older greens will have recovered sufficiently by the end of next week and all greens will be rolling well with consistency.

With a little rain and normal temperatures, some overseeding and sodding, the fairways will be back to normal by month’s end.

Courses throughout the City have all had setbacks this spring. Thanks to the hard, dedicated work of or Turf Crew we’re much better off than most.

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