A Disastrous Winter for Courses in the Northeast

The winter of 2013/14 will likely go down as one of the most devastating in recent memory for golf course owners and superintendents.

Here in Southern Ontario, many courses continue to be closed due to widespread turf damage and for some clubs, the wait will continue for weeks, if not months.

Within a half hour of where I live, two of the top courses in the country were affected to the point where ALL of their greens will need to be stripped and re-sodded and it will be June before their members will finally get the chance to pull out their putters again.

My friend Robert Thompson wrote a wonderful, detailed article on the issue and I urge you to read it in order to better understand the dilemma facing so many great clubs in the Northeast.

Ontario Courses with Poa Greens Struggle to Deal with Cold Weather Carnage – By Robert Thompson

My home course, St. Catharines G&CC, located just outside of Niagara Falls, Ontario, was very fortunate to escape relatively unscathed by the harsh winter conditions.

St. Catharines Golf & Country Club, in a photo taken just prior to opening day this year (April 16, 2014)


Our grounds crew has been aggressively overseeding with bent grass for almost nine years now, both on fairways and greens and while Poa always flexes its muscles in the hot and humid summer conditions, this continuous program put in place by our superintendent ensured that winter damage this year was minimal. We have winter kill in spots around the greens and a few fairways but playability has been fine and all areas will recover with the appropriate care and continued application of bent overseeding throughout the year.

That said, we didn’t escape completely unscathed, as the December ice storm brought our driving range posts and netting down for the second time in less than five years, leaving us without appropriate protection for adjacent fairways and the need to go to an “irons only” range set up for the near future.

Still, I know that we are one of the lucky ones and I just hope that better days are ahead for those still suffering from the effects of this horrific winter.


  • Matt…. our Lookout Point experience may need to be further delayed. The soil temperature has yet to come up enough to see any significant germination from the verticut/aeration/overseeding done. It is expected that 14 of our greens may be playable by the May long weekend, but #'s 1, 4, 7 & 10 will require more time to recover from the winter.


Submit a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s