By Greg Johnson
With the recent snap of winter weather, the Michigan golfing season and course superintendents are on hold.
Fairways and greens were mowed during a recent break in the weather at The Golf Club at Thornapple Pointe in Grand Rapids, but it almost wasn’t worth the effort.
“We hardly cut a blade of grass,” said Jack Thomasma, veteran golf course superintendent at the public course near the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.
“We are just way behind on our mowing schedule, because of the cold weather. The temperatures have been so cold the grass is just not growing yet; not doing anything. It’s brown. Aesthetically it doesn’t look great, especially after everybody watched the Masters on TV. It was just starting to green up, and then more snow,” Thomasma added.
Golf season across Michigan is experiencing a weather delay, even in the southern half of the state. Thomasma said the positive is that there were some thawing periods in January and February that kept ice layers from forming for a significant length of time.
“At least for us, that was the case,” Thomasma said. “My brother Pete is up at Walloon Country Club and they have ice they are worried about, because they just have so much snow on top of it all. Ice can be a real problem, because the air doesn’t get to the turf at all.”
Thornapple Pointe has been open for golf weather permitting for a few weeks, and last Thursday hosted a large high school tournament.
“We need the grass to start growing, because otherwise it doesn’t recover,” Thomasma said. “We put play out there and everything gets beat up normally. The problem is the turf is just not going to recover until it gets warm enough. I guess it evens out. You don’t get play because of the weather, but you have to be careful how much play you put out there so you can recover.”
Thomasma said his crew has had time to accomplish other tasks this spring in the time frame usually used for mowing, but that is really the only positive.
“We need a few days to just get up in the upper 50s in a row, and then things start really popping,” Thomasma said. “We have to get away from the nights being so cold, because that frost goes right back in the ground. Just a few good days in a row and it will really help. Then it won’t take long to get it in good condition. We’re ready I guess. We’re waiting on the weather like the golfers.”