Against my better judgement I opened the course this morning. I was surprised at how dry and firm some areas were after the 2.44' of rain last night. Clearly the frost has broken in some areas. Unfortunately the areas it has not is the mostly greens and bunkers. They were saturated and had standing water on and in them respectively. So we are open for play for the first time in 2018 albeit walkers only and on temporary greens.

7 green bunker

8 approach

Practice bunker and putting green

4 fairway puddle has shrunk tremendously from earlier in the week 

It has been very windy all morning with some sun but not much. the forecast is for temperatures to plummet to below freezing so any moisture around will lock up yet again. Hopefully the remaining frost in the ground breaks and the turf can dry and firm up before that happens. Otherwise we will be on this cycle again when the temps climb back up.

Frost just won't break

a quick update for all you frustrated golfers missing this warm spell. All greens are clear of ice and snow now finally. The third and fourth greens being our last hold outs. Of course there is a ton of ice in the swale behind three. The issue is the frost has not melted. The top 1-2 inches is saturated and it is frozen below that. I have heard estimates of 20-30 inches of frost built up in that open cold spell. The roads and paths were soup yesterday and today have dried up some. The turf was mostly still frozen yesterday and is soup today. Patience is a virtue but golfers rarely aspire towards virtuosity. All I can say is eventually we will either thaw out or freeze solid and maybe be able to get back out there. The easy visual proof I can give you are the tire tracks we are putting in the edges while trying to clean up the course from all the storms and the puddles everywhere. But who want to look at the same puddles getting ever smaller? Instead I took a couple of bunkers that are not draining because of the frost. No better proof.

3 fwy bunker

4 fwy bunker

Dancing on the edge

There are many issues to face when growing plants for a living. Mostly they revolve around weather extremes: too wet/dry, cold/hot, wind, sun; you get the idea. I have discussed Winterkill a number of times in these pages. It is a catch all term we use to describe when plants die during winter. There are many forms such as desiccation. Twitter was filled with people talking about watering dormant grass in the middle areas of the country because it was so dry a few weeks back. That is a headache I am happy I have never faced. Our issues here are usually too much water in the winter. Another form of death is crown hydration. The crown is where the shoots and roots originate and hopefully is just below the soil surface. If the ground becomes saturated then freezes repeatedly this can disrupt the plants antifreeze and abilities to fight off the stresses of cold. Ever freeze a vegetable and when it thaws it becomes a soggy mess? That is the biggest issue we are facing right now. The rain on frozen ground settled in low spots mostly and formed ice. Now as this ice melts if temps drop at night all that free moisture re-freezes. The following pictures show some of the trouble spots on the course:

5 green low spot in middle

2 green saturated in afternoon then frozen solid again at night

8 green melting but saturated in dark areas
We are heading into a warming trend for a few days with night temps staying above freezing so we should lose the frost in the ground and the ice on the surface. The forecast is for torrential rains Saturday and then back to below freezing again, so we may be back to the same cycle. That repeated cycle of freeze thaw is flirting with disaster and dancing on the edge. This graphic is from Twitter and explains why we will not be open until the frost is completely gone:

Play for us this time of year is the 4 F's: Frost Free or Fully Frozen
During the melting it is too soft to do much on the course. Many greens are full of debris and will need to be cleaned up before we can open them. We cannot get on them until they are firm. otherwise we will be the one's doing the damage in the picture below. I say all this because I had to ask a golfer to leave the property yesterday. Just because it is 40 degrees does not mean we are open. I have more sympathy than any Greenkeeper I know when it comes to allowing winter play on greens, but I have to think of the overall health over a golfer's boredom.

3 green
This was 12/20/17 8:28 am during the last thaw. The golfer was already on 5 tee before I caught up to them. Frost in green but surface thawing exactly the situation in the graphic above. The closed sign blew down. Yesterday the golfer didn't even notice there are no pins on the course. This blog was created to educate. Hard to accomplish when people are unwilling to learn or do not have any common sense. We may yet be able to open this week but I cannot predict how fast the frost will come out of the ground. All the boredom and eagerness to be out playing will not change that or speed it up. Trust that I will let you out there as soon as I can. If you want to be outside enjoying the weather and want to be here and help, come on out we could always use the help cleaning up debris from storms.

11:15AM 1/9/18