"So, what do you guys do in the winter?" This question, as was addressed in the previous blog entry, is common among golf course superintendents who manage turf in northern climates. While it is true that the size of the maintenance staff is drastically reduced over the winter months, key staff members remain in order to complete important work that is required to provide a well-conditioned golf course. One of the areas of golf course maintenance is in the execution of proper tree management.
Performing tree maintenance in the winter is best for both the trees and the bottom line. Pruning deciduous trees in the winter promotes fast regrowth in the spring. It is also easier to see the shape of deciduous plants in the winter since their foliage is gone. Additionally, winter pruning assists in correcting disease problems withing the tree as open wounds during the warm season can attract insects which may be carrying fungal spores. While the main goal of tree maintenance at NSCC is to remove any dead or hazardous branches, the maintenance staff also takes golf course playability into account. In most cases, tree canopies are raised to allow for golf cart passage and for golfers to play a golf shot below a tree.
Managing golf course turf is much like farming in that when the weather is good there are often not enough hours in the day to get everything done. By pruning trees in the winter, the NSCC maintenance staff is able to work uninterrupted, thereby increasing efficiency and maximizing its labor dollars due to the lack of golfers on the course. As long as the ground is frozen and covered by snow, all golf course equipment is able to access the course without causing damage to the underlying turf or soil. Following pruning, all branches are hauled back to the golf course maintenance facility where they will be chipped by staff. By chipping brush in-house, we are able to maximize our spending. Instead of contracting this service out, the golf course maintenance staff stays busy on frosty or wet days by chipping the brush at the maintenance facility. The mulch created from the brush pile can be used later on the course. By recycling this material on-site, we avoid refuse removal fees and contributing unnecessary organic waste in our landfills.