Northwest golf courses hit hard by winter

Northwest golf courses hit hard by winter

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by Adam Bjaranson

Bio | Email | Follow: @kgwsports

kgw.com

Posted on January 20, 2010 at 8:12 AM

Updated Friday, Jan 22 at 6:49 PM

PORTLAND -- Casual golfers already have enough to worry about. Their stance, swing, and follow through are a few examples. Now, in Western Oregon and Southwest Washington, they may need to worry about the course’ condition.

“Environmental conditions are something we cannot control”, says Phil Lagao, President of the Oregon Golf Course Superintendents Association.

The severe weather and record breaking low temperatures which hit our region last month has had a major impact on area golf courses, particularly the putting greens.

“If grass doesn’t naturally harden up, it becomes injured very easily with the sub-freezing temperatures. Because of that, the ‘poa’—which is the dominant grass grown on the greens in western Oregon--- it becomes very sensitive to cold snaps. And because of that, we saw a lot of winter damage”, says Rob Golembiewski, a turf grass specialist from Oregon State University.

Golembiewski added that it’s really a combination of mother nature, and human nature that will cure the damaged greens.

“We need warmer temperatures, and while the temperatures have warmed up a little this week and people want to get out and golf in the 60-degree weather, the grass doesn’t respond ‘that’ quickly. Soil temperatures are slow to respond, so people just need to be patient as we move forward”.

Right now, in mid-January, it’s the putting greens that are the major area of concern. Golfers probably won’t notice a change in the way each green plays, but the main concern is with the greens long-term health.

Lagao is confident that the regions course greens keepers will be able to come out of this looking better than ever.

“It’s hard work to produce these greens, but I have faith that our guys and gals can do it”.

And while the putting greens will eventually improve, the golfing public must be patient because turf recovery from freezing injury is generally very slow, even if growing conditions are favorable.

It’s likely that golfers will have to use “temporary greens” as an alternative. They’d like to eliminate traffic wear on the injured turf altogether.

“It’s a test for a lot of guys, but we have a lot of tools and information to battle this. And hopefully, we’ll come out better than when we went into it”, says Lagao.

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