Editor’s note: Download the following golf course minimum maintenance guidelines as a handy PDF.
After a period of extended closure, a store can restock its shelves and easily resume normal operations. A restaurant can fire up the burners and be back in business. But a golf course is a living thing, and superintendents can’t bring the course back to regular playing conditions simply or quickly after a period of neglect.
Even if the course is closed, a minimum maintenance regimen will help keep the turf healthy and “standing by” for when facilities are able to resume standard operations.
GCSAA and the USGA recommend the following minimum practices for course maintenance. Keep in mind that turf conditions and needs vary greatly around the country, so the guidelines should be adapted to the current growing conditions in your region.
As you carry out your maintenance operations during this time, it is important that each golf facility comply with CDC guidelines in addition to any state or local executive orders. Measures should include but are not limited to:
• Minimize the number of maintenance staff members working on the golf course at one time.
• Maintain social distancing guidelines at all times.
• Assign staff equipment to avoid sharing between employees.
• Stagger working hours and break times.
• Place hand sanitizer throughout maintenance area.
• Regularly disinfect any surface that is contacted.
To maintain turf that is healthy enough to survive while also reducing weed encroachment, the following mowing frequency is recommended:
• Greens: 2 to 3 times per week
• Tees: 1 to 2 times per week
• Fairways: 1 to 2 times per week
• Collars: 1 to 2 times per week
• Approaches: 1 to 2 times per week
• Driving range tees and targets: 1 to 2 times per week
• Driving range: Once every 2 weeks
• Rough: Once every 1 to 2 weeks
Utilize plant growth regulators where possible to manage growth rate and clipping yields. Increasing mowing heights will allow for longer intervals between mowing.
Irrigation should be applied as necessary to ensure adequate turf health and density. Avoid excessive irrigation, which will promote unnecessary growth.
Plant protectants and fertilizers
Apply plant protectants and fertilizers judiciously to maintain plant health while not encouraging unnecessary growth.
Bunkers should be maintained as necessary to prevent weed encroachment.
Carry out routine maintenance as required to keep essential equipment in good operating condition.
GCSAA’s COVID-19 pandemic resources
USGA Green Section COVID-19 resource center