By Justin Seward
A golf course is no different than many other sports playing fields when it comes to wear and tear, and requires maintenance when necessary.
The challenge is keeping the fairways in pristine condition in its offseason with snow scattered on the tarps.
Elkwater Golf Course’s superintendent Keith Fisher has been at the nine-hole course for 11 years and has found some tricks of the trade when keeping the grounds in mint form.
With the course being nestled in the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park at a higher elevation, the golf season is three weeks behind Medicine Hat, opening up and closing where winter preparation begins.
After the Labour Day weekend, the greens are top dressed which reduces compaction and opens up pathways for fertilizer, water and oxygen.
Then the greens are rolled out back to a smooth surface.
Once October rolls around, Fisher applies the first application of a systemic fungicide which fortifies plants against mold and disease, while the greens get fall fertilizer containing nitrogen, so it’s there for spring and has minimal usage.
A second round of fertilizer is then applied by the end of the month and tarped.
“It jump-starts the growth in the spring,” said Fisher of tarp protection.
The results of switching to a liquid fungicide five years ago has made the greens form into tip-top shape with no mold.
The hope when the course is winterized is the snow covering stays for the ground’s temperature to stay consistent. It has been a good start so far compared to last year.
“The last thing you want is for it to warm up and cool off,” he said.
“Last winter it did that and a lot of the snow melted and we had a huge sheet of ice on half of the fairway and a lot of the rough. It killed half the turf and took half a season to get it going again.”
When he goes and checks on the course , he looks for green being exposed to the weather elements because that determines what will need to be fixed in the spring.