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Spring may come early for Pictou County golfers

Erik MacPherson, golf course superintendent at Abercrombie, checks the ninth green for any evidence of disease.
Erik MacPherson, golf course superintendent at Abercrombie, checks the ninth green for any evidence of disease. - Kevin Adshade

Knock on wood, but some courses in great early-March condition

ABERCROMBIE – The golf season might be here quicker than it usually is.

“We’re nowhere near out of the woods, but you just have to project there’s going to be an early spring,” says Erik MacPherson, the course superintendent at Abercrombie Golf & Country Club.
“Based on where we are right now, it looks positive. It’s been a crazy winter. It looks like a typical spring, only three weeks earlier than we normally see it.”

While there is snow in the forecast for later on in the week, it’s been downgraded – for now, at least – from what had been an anticipated 20 centimetres of snow to five centimetres, with some rain expected on Friday.

Even that is a piece of good news for golf courses.

“We need a little moisture,” MacPherson explained. “The areas (of the course) that have been exposed for a while have started drying out. The little bit of snow that’s coming – with some rain – can only do good things for the turf.”

In mid-February, MacPherson checked out the Abercrombie course and found that approximately 60-70 per cent of the greens had some ice covering.

“Today, they’re all clear, with the exception of the third green,” he said on Tuesday afternoon, as he took a close look at the ninth green and a small portion of the fairway, where very little signs of diseased grass could be seen.

“And not just here, some of my colleagues (at other courses) have been saying the same thing.”

Brian Affleck, who runs Eagle’s Chance Driving Range & Par 3 in Mount William, said that, generally speaking, people who look after golf courses prefer a covering of snow during the winter, to help keep greens from drying up.

“It’s no good for the roots.”

He did say that while a couple of the greens at his course had some ice on them recently,
“the rest of the greens, the ones that didn’t have ice on them, seem to be doing OK.”

With the lack of snow and the approaching spring, die-hard golfers are no doubt beginning to think about their healthy obsession, and Affleck said his driving range could soon be open, if some milder weather settles in the region.

“We just need some warm days. If we didn’t have snow I could be open this weekend, really. A couple of warm days will bring people out.”

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