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Dealing with damage

Golf and country club hopes greens ready by mid-June

By Kevin Werner, News Staff

Hamilton Golf and Country Club course superintendent Rhod Trainor hopes to have the course’s venerable greens available for players by the middle of June.

After a particularly brutal winter that included downed trees and flooding issues, Trainor and his team have been working overtime to get the course ready for play. Hamilton Golf and Country Club, like most Ontario courses, suffered through one of the area’s harshest winters, losing all of its 27 greens to the ice and snow.

“I’ve never seen it like this in my 25 years,” said Trainor.

The cold winter also struck courses like St. George in Toronto, which has previously hosted the Canadian Open, Whirlpool Golf Course, Cherry Hill and Lookout Point in Niagara and Burlington Golf and Country Club.

Most courses use Poa annua grass for their greens, which lasts up to 60 days under snow before it dies, say the Canadian Golf Superintendent Association officials.

Newer courses have bentgrass greens, which can endure ice for about 120 days.

Trainor had to re-seed all of the course’s greens, forcing the club to construct temporary greens this season.

But Trainor also had to deal with a winter clean up that was “10 times” what it usually is after a normal winter. Ancaster was particularly hard hit by the December 2013 winter storm that had trees and branches strewn about the community for a few months before getting picked up.

“ Adding to the club’s problems, flooding impacted the course last January, resulting in a flash freeze a few days later.

“We really had no break,” said Trainor. “There was nothing we could have done. It was an once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

And even though Hamilton Golf and Country Club, which has hosted the RBC Canadian Open five times, was enduring the worst winter in recent memory, down at the city-owned Chedoke courses and at Dundas Valley Golf and Curling Club, the greens and fairways managed to avoid serious damage said Trainor.

“The weather was completely different there than in Ancaster,” said Trainor.

If the club wants to avoid this type of damage to its greens in the future, the owners could replace the Poe annua with bentgrass, but that is a decision that would be made by the club’s directors, said Trainor.

“Who knows, (this type of winter) could happen again,” he said.

The decision, though, would mean rebuilding the greens and closing the course, he said, and making a significant financial and time investment into the club.

“It would be their decision to make,” Trainor said.

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