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Golf course minimum maintenance guidelines

Course closed or staff slashed in the wake of coronavirus? GCSAA and the USGA have outlined a minimum maintenance plan for keeping turf alive until standard operations can resume.

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Filed to: Coronavirus

GCSAA USGA coronavirus
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.

Mowing

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

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.

Bunker maintenance

Bunkers should be maintained as necessary to prevent weed encroachment.

Equipment maintenance

Carry out routine maintenance as required to keep essential equipment in good operating condition.

Additional resources

GCSAA’s COVID-19 pandemic resources
USGA Green Section COVID-19 resource center