March 22--Thanks for the guesses from those who took a stab at the number of sprinklers on the course (see post below). I am going to give it 3 more days so if you want a shot get your entry in soon.
Here is a picture of our greens for those of you who haven't been out this spring. Despite the nice weather they are taking a long time to green up. Every day that passes makes me more nervous. When you look closely there are still live plants in the brown areas but there are also some plants that didn't make it. We are still in the wait and see mode to determine how much damage there will ultimately be but it is apparent that there is some winterkill. As stated earlier, most of the greens will be OK but there will be some thin spots on knobs etc. I was asked about the condition of the course at the recent stockholder meeting and gave a long-winded "I don't know". I was taught never to say "I don't know" because it will make you look uninformed or disinterested, but when it comes to winter damage "I don't know" really is the best answer. Despite my repeated observations of brown grass through the winter months, it really is tough to determine how the plant is doing and what it will look like come spring. It is really a guess, an educated one, but still a guess. My best guess for what happened this year was the warmup in early February shot soil temperatures into the mid-40s (especially on greens which heat and cool more quickly than fairways) prompting the plant to start coming out of dormancy. Then we had -6 and -1 lows at the end of February which really shocked the greens and they are slowly emerging from that. So we are hoping for continued good weather and more green in the future.
Below you see a picture of the left edge of 17 fairway along the fairway bunker. Notice this turf is splotchy. Why? This area receives quite a bit of cart traffic as people tend to drive along this edge as they round the corner here. Cart traffic leads to stress which often isn't seen until extreme conditions like heat, cold, drought come into play. Then stressed plants are injured or killed. Also ryegrass handles cart traffic better than bluegrass so it is more predominant in this spot but if you remember from last winter, ryegrass tends to be less winter hardy. So you can see stressed ryegrass was hurt by the winter. Luckily there is some bluegrass here and some more stressed rye will green up (albeit later). This spot may need some seeding but probably will be able to "catch up" on its own given a month. I point this out to show that there are lots of smaller microclimates and situations that affect the turf population and its health throughout the course. There are a wide range of edaphic conditions that affect turf performance such as topography (hill vs. valley), soil texture (sandy vs. clay), exposure (south vs. north facing slopes), traffic, etc. These differences are most easily recognized now as the turf first starts to green up.