Golf Courses Managing Bizarre Weather, Too

Image courtesy of TPC Wisconsin

With the wacky winter and spring weather we’ve experienced, we’ve just about seen everything, including golfers in February.

Eric Leonard is the golf course superintendent at TPC Wisconsin on the North side of Madison. They’ll be hosting the American Family PGA Tour beginning in 2025. He says public courses did open up for golfers, but TPC did not. They didn’t want to risk damaging the grass. So while their members may be holding out for opening day, Eric is on the fairway making sure the course is in good condition for the season.

Drought has made irrigation a lifeline, he says. But in the off-season, hope is what keeps the grass alive in a dry winter. Grass will desiccate (go completely dry and die) if there’s no winter moisture. Some courses may be experiencing that if they didn’t get timely rain or snowfall. Fortunately for TPC Wisconsin, they’ve had timely rain.

Sand, seed, and fertilizer mixtures are key to fixing patches and filling divots — you can do the same in your lawn.

Leonard expects insect populations to be up this summer. Grubs are a problem for golf courses, tearing up grassroots. Grubs also attract four-legged pests like skunks and raccoons that can tear up a course.

How do golf courses compare to the farm?

Leonard, who cash crops near Beaver Dam, says golf courses follow a nutrient management plan similar to farms to protect the water.

Leonard also finds himself pondering over the best grass seed to buy that’s drought-resistant and hardy — similar to how he chooses the best corn and soybean varieties for his home farm.

And, the equipment on the golf course has become more technologically advanced and custom for each task/section of the course — similar to new farm machinery.