WHAT DO YOU DO ALL WINTER?By Dave Oatis, Regional Director, Northeast Region
January 20, 2015
Just about every year, turf professionals everywhere get the same question: “what do you do in the winter?” The answer to this question may surprise you. Understandably, golfers sometimes assume that winter is “kick back time” for golf course superintendents. After all, not much golf is being played in the northern half of the country. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Winter in the northern half of the country usually brings a change of schedule – and some relief – from the day-to-day grind of the golf season, but there still is much work to be done. Often, winter is “project time,” allowing superintendents to focus more resources on accomplishing bigger, more disruptive projects at a time when grass doesn't require mowing and golfers won’t be bothered. Tree work, drainage work, bunker construction, and myriad other projects all can be done in the late fall and winter – provided the weather cooperates. When the weather doesn't cooperate, there may also be snow to plow and parking lots and sidewalks to treat. Just as it does in the summer, the weather presents its own set of challenges during winter and outside work on the course can be a battle against the elements. Additionally, course accessories like ball washers, tee markers, and benches need to be cleaned and painted, future projects planned, equipment maintained, etc.
In addition to on-course projects, several opportunities for continuing education take place during winter. The turfgrass management profession is dynamic and the development of new products, techniques and research constantly occurs. Therefore, it is important to continually learn about new advancements within the industry. The USGA annually funds turfgrass research projects at universities across the nation. The information developed from research is published and presented at turf conferences and meetings, so attendance is critical. There are many education opportunities during the year, but the winter turf conferences are among the most important for turf professionals. Furthermore, educational conferences provide time to obtain certification credits and allow superintendents to network.
Hopefully you get the idea; a superintendent’s work is never done. So, while the occasional winter vacation may take place, winter still is definitely not “kick back time” for golf course superintendents. Winter means changing schedules and shifting priorities while always striving to improve professionally so the job can be done more effectively.