On Monday the Agronomy Staff spent several hours pulling the covers on the greens. Some of you may wonder why we cover the greens at certain times so I wanted to try and explain why. Our ultradwarf greens are most susceptible to injury during the winter months because they do not go completely dormant and yet are not actively growing either. They still have live green tissue in the leaf and crown area which can be killed or damaged by winter desiccation or sudden cold temperatures. Much like you need a coat on to go outside right now, our greens need a little extra protection to survive the cold nights.
Here is an example of how the covers help to protect and insulate the greens. The air temperature at 7:35 this morning was 25 degrees with a wind chill of 16 degrees. The measurement on the top is of an area which was covered all night. Our soil thermometer gave us a reading of 38.8 degrees while the bottom picture shows an area that was uncovered which had a soil temperature of 30.1 degrees. Simple explanation for using covers is this, turfgrass plants have water inside of them inside of the plant cells. If this water is allowed to freeze it will, and often does, act like a balloon when frozen, it will burst. Turfgrass cells which are damaged or burst/killed in the winter months will not revive themselves and the damaged areas on the greens will not green up in the spring.
Having the golf course closed for a few days while the covers are deployed is a minor inconvenience compared to the alternative which could like this green pictured here. We will only pull the covers when I feel it is necessary to protect the golf course, not just to keep you off the course. Trust me, pulling covers is not a fun task in the first place.