By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hoping the frigid winter is behind us, Minnesota golf courses are discovering damaged greens.

Many golf courses are experiencing winterkill this year because of the bitter cold, on top of ice and heavy snow.

Golfers may not give it a second thought, but Fred Ehlers can’t help it. He’s the turf specialist at Brookview Golf Course and Lawn Bowling and the one responsible for getting the course up to par.

“You just have to take what you get,” said Ehlers. “As you can see out there that’s our varieties and what it looks like with the damage.”

According to Ehlers, Brookview got lucky. While he will probably have to re-seed some spots, his greens survived the winter. Other courses haven’t been so lucky.

“I would say it’s probably the worst I’ve seen in 20 to 25 years,” said Golden Valley Country Club superintendent, Jeff Ische

Even with a polar vortex in January and record-setting snow in February, Ische said it was a late December rainfall on frozen ground that really hurt GVCC.

“It couldn’t soak in and it resulted in an ice layer basically encasing the whole golf course,” said Ische.

Now, because Mother Nature isn’t cooperating, Ische and his crew are making their own weather. They’ve set up little green houses on greens, to grow new grass by re-seeding with bent grass to replace the less hardy annual blue grass. They’re using lots of seed, propane, and reinforced poly to make it happen. When it’s 60 degrees outside, it’s 90 inside- and the results are starting to show.

“It’s just a way to warm the soil temperatures, get grass to germinate in air temperatures you otherwise wouldn’t. And speed the recovery process,” said Ische.

The GVCC will open its course to members on May 1 with temporary greens, and then as that grass grows, they hope their regular greens are ready somewhere between May 15 and June 1.

John Lauritsen