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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ice, What we Know for Sure

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Ice... it has been the word of the year so far in 2014. Reports of damage from ice cover to putting greens are wide spread but at the same time hit or miss especially in the Detroit area. Some courses have seen significant damage while the course across the street has none. As you can imagine this is extremely frustrating to the members of these clubs and to the Superintendents who manage the turf. While much is being done at Michigan State with funding from the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation (MTF) by Dr. Kevin Frank and the Turf Team to try to study the reasons some turf has died and others have not we still do not know the answers.

Here is what we do know: As frustrating as this is to the golfers is is devastating to the Superintendent. As inconvenient as is it is to the members, it is something that has caused loss of sleep, fights with spouses, missing family activities, weight loss, mental anguish and fatigue for the Superintendent. As much as the golfers want the greens to be ready multiply that 100 fold to reach the desire the Superintendent has to get them open. We do know that every single Superintendent would have done anything to prevent this from happening, every single one. No one would have skipped a practice no matter what it is or how hard it would be if they thought it would help. There is no one more distraught, a very fitting description (dis·traught adjective \di-ˈstrȯt\ : very upset : so upset that you are not able to think clearly or behave normally) than the Superintendent about the damage. It will take time to recover, and there is no substitute for time. Not money, not effort not a single thing can substitute for time with the exception of a little help from Mother Nature which has yet to arrive.

Here is what we do not know: Why this has affected some greens and not others. What practices are best to prevent ice damage in the future regardless of what theories are out there based on what happened or did not happen this winter. We do not know if there is a best practice that can be stamped across all situations, in turf management there usually is not.

What disturbs me the most is when I hear of anyone saying that they did the right thing while someone else did the wrong thing. This is just pure speculation, if course A has damage and course B does not it is not because one Superintendent cares more, or did more than another. Anyone in this business knows you do not become or stay a Superintendent for long if you do not have passion for this work and for the results they produce. In this close knit community of professionals it is the exception to hear that one Superintendent is critical of another, especially on an issue that is as tenuous as this. I know this is the exception and very far from the norm, but even one comment to a member or guest can have a ripple effect that can lead to even more problems for a fellow Superintendent.

Please remember that we are all in this together and should support one another, you never know when Mother Nature will turn her wrath on you. With a short season already off to a slow start the pressure is immense to get the putting surfaces back open, and once open to get them up to what would normally be mid summer speeds. Please be patient and know that your Superintendent is doing EVERYTHING they can to get the course back to normal, and remember that they would give ANYTHING not to have this problem in the first place.

Adam Ikamas, CGCS
MiGCSA Executive Director