The Fall Push

The golf season may have ended at the resort but the work on the golf course continues. Both golf maintenance crews are busy with chores to put the courses to bed for the winter. The challenge this time of year is the unpredictable weather and not knowing when winter conditions will finally arrive.  Our goal is to have all winterization chores done by the second week of November.
Draining spring on  11 approach

When the courses close our first task is to bring in all items on the course that are not anchored to the ground. These items include tee markers, flags, benches, hazard markers, bunker rakes, ball washers, etc. These items are thoroughly cleaned and stored safely for the winter. Tree litter clean up is constant in these last few weeks. Whenever conditions allow we will clean up leaves and pine needles. The irrigation systems will be cleared of water using compressed air. Close attention is paid to this chore because an improperly blown out system will lead to broken pipes or irrigation heads in the spring. After the system is clear of water the pumps are dismantled for the winter.     

Old picture of SCC showing original bunker contour lines on 18
This time period on the golf course is ideal for drainage projects. Multiple drainage projects have already been accomplished and are still under way. At Stowe Mountain Club (SMC), three springs that popped up during the very wet June were fixed. Due to the mountainous terrain, springs will pop up over time as the groundwater moves through the underlying soil and exits at the surface. These spring diversion projects were done on eleven approach, sixteen approach, and eighteen white tee. A large drainage project was also completed between seven tee and 8 fairway. Due to the proximity to the dam, this project was contracted out and was supervised by an engineer. We will be sodding this area in the coming days so that it will be ready for play on opening day next year.
Same bunker today at SCC. Notice how bunker has grown in.

At Stowe Country Club (SCC), we are close to completing the bunker restoration on the eighteenth green. These bunkers had grown in over time and water would puddle in the bunkers after rain event. These bunkers were re-contoured to the original shape, drainage was installed, and new sand was added.
SMC, Applying Wintergreen to greens 

Finally, in preparation for the long winter we implement multiple preemptive measures to help the turfgrass survive.  If you ski during the early season you may notice that the greens at SMC are a vibrant green color. This is due to a paint that is applied to the putting surface for winter protection. This product is called Wintergreen and is a combination of a latex paint and anti-transpirant. The logic behind this application is that it protects the turf from severe wind damage, will prevent disease controls from degrading, and will help the soil warm up in the Spring due to the dark green color. After painting the greens we will lay a protective mat in areas that experienced prior winter damage. This mat is called Enkamat and has proven to prevent ice damage. We will then cover the entire green with a breathable cover on eight of the greens. These greens are covered because they get windblown and do not get the protective snow cover. Some of the same measures are implemented at SCC, but not all.

If you get a chance to enjoy touring the course this winter please stay off of the greens. Packing the snow on the green will cause icing which can kill turfgrass. We will rope off all the greens to identify the location of each green. Both golf maintenance teams hope you had an enjoyable 2015 golf season. We are already preparing for another great golf season in 2016.