Overseed, either rye grass seed or Poa Trivialis grass seed, for the City courses is typically planted in early October through November and will be the putting surface through spring. We have overseeded greens at Lions, Hancock, Jimmy Clay and Roy Kizer. We did not overseed greens at Morris Williams, Grey Rock, or the Joe Balander short course.
Bermuda grass will go dormant (still grows but very slowly) during the winter months and will start to strengthen about this time of year. Transition of the Bermuda grass will largely depend on rainfall and temperatures. We could have a very warm spring and the overseeded greens will start to struggle and hopefully the Bermuda will wake up out of that dormancy about the same time. Rarely do those coincide in the maintenance world and without question this is something the maintenance team is focused on most days during the spring.
One more layer that we often see is the emergence of Poa Annua grass that thrives in these early spring conditions. The Poa Annua grass is often used in other parts of the country for greens with cooler climates, more commonly seen on California courses like Pebble Beach. Poa Annua grass often has a lighter color and seeds out creating inconsistent patches on the greens. Controlling the Poa Annua often results in losing the winter overseed and if your Bermuda is not ready to thrive, you cannot focus on controlling the Poa Annua grass. Both the winter overseed and those other non-desirable grasses will generally start to burn out when temperatures reach into the 90’s and more importantly, your night temperatures move into the upper 60’s to 70’s.
While the greens we did not overseed (Grey Rock and Morris Williams) will not struggle as much with Poa Annua grass, they will still see some impact during this time of year.
In a perfect world for the non-overseeded greens, we would have an earlier spring and a quick warm up, bringing the Bermuda out of sleep time; however the overseeded courses thrive on a slower transition to spring.
The short story is we have lots going on and each course is different. The climate at Lions is not the same at Roy Kizer. Incredibly, the climate at Jimmy Clay is often not the same at Roy Kizer. They all will transition differently and it’s just part of the process of maintaining greens in Central Texas.
Some may ask why not overseed all or not overseed any. That is largely dependent on the health of the Bermuda grass at each location and how cold the course might get. What is somewhat crazy is we could be on average 5 degrees colder at Jimmy Clay than at Morris Williams. Not to mention the age of the greens at Lions versus Morris Williams are drastically different.
Lots to take in and more that could have could have been written so don’t hesitate to stop and ask the ones that really know the information, your golf course Superintendent.