Chesterfield golf course back open after ‘winterkill’

Posted at 7:22 PM, Jul 29, 2018

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — Bringing an end to what looked like its own endless winter, a local golf course reopened with new greens and a round of other improvements after a run-in with Mother Nature forced it closed for two months of the summer.

Independence Golf Club, which straddles the Chesterfield-Powhatan county line, opened its full course for play Friday for the first time since Memorial Day.

Owners and brothers Giff and Alan Breed made the tough call in May to shut down the course after its Bermuda grass greens were decimated by the weather – specifically by a phenomenon known as winterkill.

Winterkill is best described as Bermuda grass refreezing and dying before it’s had a chance to fully wake up from its winter slumber. In this case, unseasonably warmer weather in February caused the Bermuda to come out of dormancy early, but then unexpected and extended cold in March refroze them.

“Bermuda grass goes to sleep in the winter, losing its color,” Giff Breed said. “When you get these excessive temperatures, it can’t survive through the winter.”

While Independence was far from alone in being hit by winterkill, its situation was somewhat unique for the Richmond golf market as it’s the only full course here with Bermuda greens. In fact it’s one of the northernmost courses in the mid-Atlantic with such greens.

The Breeds were faced with the decision to either close the course and put down new greens altogether, or bring in sod to patch things up. Giff said they chose the former, as the inconsistent look that would have resulted from latter didn’t jibe with the high-end “public country club” experience Independence aims for.

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