Happy Winter Solstice to everyone! | TheUnion.com

Happy Winter Solstice to everyone!

By Bill Hamilton

Days will be getting longer now and spring is right around the corner, but it is a wide corner. The clear, cold nights continue to bring increasingly hard frosts in the mornings. All of the deciduous tree leaves are now on the ground, and the turf is in neutral because the soil is nearly frozen. Although the cool season turfs, bluegrasses, ryegrasses, bent grasses and fescues are still green in color, they are not growing. The warm season turf, Bermuda grass, is the one that is dormant and brown. It is this time of year when you can really distinguish the various grasses that make up the Golf Course. When the soil heats back up, with the onset of spring, the Bermuda grass will sprout new sprouts and everything will be full of chlorophyll again.
The fun part of mid-winter golf is the fact that the putting greens are not growing either. Since they are in suspended animation, there is much less resistance and friction applied to your golf ball and it will travel across the green with the greatest of ease.
That means quicker speeds, enhanced breaks and a greater possibility of operator error. We try to simulate this "no growth" environment during the spring and summer by controlling the various inputs that are actually controllable. It's more of a Goldilocks style of management, wherein we want to keep the greens healthy by giving them nutrients and water in the amounts that are "just right." Not too much and not too little.
Consistency is what we strive for, but the four seasons change the way we play golf and manage grass. It is a never-ending challenge to work with Mother Nature and give our customers the best playing conditions that our budget will allow.
We have had a few challenges in 2017, "The Year of Extremes," and made it through to the other side. I'm hoping for a normal year in 2018, but I think we have to adapt to what may be the "new normal" in years to come.
Happy New Year to all, and a big thank you for your support of our efforts to make Lake Wildwood Golf Course and Parks the very best they can be.