Greenskeeper Greg Ross has implemented a few new ideas this fall in hopes of sparing Kitchen Creek from the same kind of damage Mother Nature inflicted there last winter.
"We’ve punched three-quarter holes 10 inches deep in the greens, which helps drain the surface water and allows air and water in the roots," noted Ross, adding the holes previously were dug only three inches deep.
Ross said they also have installed a new fungicide program, and they’re using a different fertilizer on the fairways to help re-establish lost turf.
And club pro Gord Workum said they also rented a "special machine" from the Elmhurst Golf & Country Club in Winnipeg that’s been used along with their regular aerifier.
The cost to the club for the the two-day rental and services was $2,500.
"What [the aerifier] does is it pulls up little plugs and spreads around a lot of the nutrients," said Ross, adding they began the process about three weeks ago.
It is a common process that is used by many courses in Minnesota, Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. These area are often prone to heavy rains, which then freeze to ice and then become covered with snow until March or April.
That, combined with a cold and wet May this year, failed to allow the ground to warm up and regenerate itself. A dry summer also caused the course to be slow to recuperate.
Still, Ross said the course has benefited from the effects of the warmer temperatures this fall.
"The course is [improving] more now than in the summer months when we had a drought and lacked precipitation," he noted. "The turf needs time to get ready for winter, a ‘hardening stage,’ or it will go in shock."
Ross added they’ve received a "big help" from T.W. Judson of Emo, who has provided the course with top-quality USGA sand for top dressing, which has saved the club a "ton of money."
Ross said the time, money and effort they’re spending is a "preventive measure" designed to help the course in its healing process next spring.
And while the course is consuming a lot of their time and effort, Ross stressed it’s not costing all that much in terms of dollars.
"It’s really not costing much more [money]. Sure, it’s a bit more [but] it’s probably within $1,000 of what it would normally cost," he said, estimating it will cost Kitchen Creek about $2,000-$3,000 to prepare the course for the winter.
Club president Steve Lundon said the extra work is "eating into [the club’s] profits and reserves." He estimated it will cost around $50,000 for the work to repair last winter’s damage—and to prevent it from reoccurring again next year.
"We had no choice but to get the things [on the course] fixed up," he stressed.