The most favorable time to open a golf course in Ontario is sometime in and around the Masters. The Masters Tournament at Augusta inspires many golfers to get out on the course and play. Three weeks ago it appeared like members were about to enjoy an early course opening. At the time Masters weekend was the date being thrown around as a potential opening by many area courses. After the ice storm last week, snow and freezing temperatures this week it's looking more like a later April opening. It's to far out to nail a specific date yet. Although, based on the long range forecast it's looking like sometime between April 21st and April 26th would be realistic timeframe for opening.
March was kind of an odd month for weather. The beginning of the month brought a wave of spring like temperatures followed by a very wet end to the month. Precipitation total for March was 127.4 mm. That is more than double the average of 61.0 mm. March 2016 was the 5th wettest in 100 years of weather data in the region.
Due to all the rain and inconsistent weather conditions the progress in preparing the course for play has been limited to tree clean-up efforts. This week has been a bust for accomplishing any productive work to get the course ready for play. Once temperatures turn around next week we will get back on track to opening day preparations.
Prior to opening the golf course it is important to evaluate growth rates and ensure that the turf is actively growing. Ideally, active growth indicates that the turf can recover from the stresses caused by traffic. Other factors to consider include the presence of frost in the ground and soil moisture. Soil is often wet in early spring as frost is coming out of the ground. Wet soils can cause long term damage if golfers and machinery is on too quickly.
The last two years the course has not survived the winter well and this year we are completely clean of damage and turf is healthy. The Course and Grounds staff is very eager to get the golf season underway. The 2016 golf season may be off to a slow start, but turf is on track for a great year at Cutten Fields!