“Our friends in golf course maintenance in the Midwest and the far west are begging for this kind of snow.”
On Tuesday, the overnight low temperature in Pinehurst was 9 degrees.
On Wednesday evening, our nine golf courses, including Pinehurst No. 2, were greeted with six inches of wispy, fluffy snow.
Now, while both weather events are highly unusual and rare for us – the average temperature in Pinehurst in January is a very playable 45 degrees – it begs a question the golfer may be interested in – especially the golfer who is considering a trip to Pinehurst in 2018:
Which weather event – the 9 degree temperature or the half-foot of snow – do you think is markedly better for your golf course?
The answer might surprise you.
“This fluffy snow is the best kind because of its ability to insulate the ground underneath. The ground temperature is able to retain much of its heat. It’s not dropping any more. Now it’s completely protected from, say, a 12-degree air temperature, or any of the wind.” -No. 2 Superintendent John Jeffreys
“Oh, it’s definitely the snow,” says No. 2 Superintendent John Jeffreys. “Our friends in golf course maintenance in the Midwest and the far west are begging for this kind of snow.”
While our executives and marketing team may not necessarily want to hear that – to say nothing of golfers who delight in our grand game – a few days under a soft blanket of snow is not just a good thing for a golf course, it’s a great thing.
[UPDATE: We got snow again this week, which, according to Jeffreys when we checked in, still portends really good things for Spring golf at Pinehurst:]
“This fluffy snow is the best kind because of its ability to insulate the ground underneath,” Jeffreys says. “The ground temperature is able to retain much of its heat. It’s not dropping any more. Now it’s completely protected from, say, a 12-degree air temperature, or any of the wind.”
So, what exactly does that mean for our golf courses?
It could mean even better conditions for early Spring.
“Very cold, dry air is bad for a golf course,” Jeffreys says. “That leads to winterkill.”
And winterkill isn’t evident to a golf course superintendent until temperatures begin to warm and grass begins to grow again. A problem throughout Greensboro and Durham in North Carolina few years ago, winterkill disrupts golf in the spring as clubs can only fix those dead areas when grass can grow again.
We’ve endured a rare cold stretch dating back to last week, but the moisture and likely slow melting from the snow Wednesday will continue to protect our fairways and roughs and prove to have a lasting effect.
The principle is the same for why the bermudagrass greens are covered when temperatures drop into the low 20s. It’s not the tarps themselves that keep the greens warm and safe from any problems come Spring, it’s the air trapped between the tarp and the ground.
The snow does the same thing for the entire course.
“There’s plenty of air in snow, and now the ground will stay warmer than the air outside for a few days,” Jeffreys says.
There’s also one more golf-related benefit from the snow, which until 4 p.m. Wednesday was only forecast to be about a trace to one inch – our courses are closed for a couple of days.
“I know golfers would rather be playing in the 60- and 70-degree days that we often get in January, but a few days with no stress on the grass is a good thing,” Jeffreys says. “There are fewer divots being made on grass that is dormant, and there is a lot less traffic on the greens. It’s like we’re giving the course a nice, long rest.”
A little nap before Spring.
So, revel for a few days in the beauty of our rare snowfall in Pinehurst. And if you’ve already booked your trip for Pinehurst in 2018, you can know that our courses are in good hands.
Not just John Jeffreys’.