Plant hardiness a good guide to golf year round

    For those of us choosing to live where we can play golf year round, the US Department of Agriculture's National Arboretum - the government agency tasked with, among other things, figuring out what, where and when things grow - provides some guidance.  Its Plant Hardiness Zone map speaks volumes about the idiosyncrasies of temperatures in the U.S.
    The USNA's map separates the country into 11 "hardiness" zones, each one different by 10 degrees in average minimum annual temperatures from the adjacent zone.  Zone 1 is the coldest, and includes northern Maine and the most northerly points in the upper Midwest.  Zone 11, the hottest, encompasses very southern Florida.  The map essentially reveals where golf can and cannot be played in the winter months.
    Residents in northeastern coastal North Carolina, for example, live within the same band of average low temperatures as residents of El Paso, TX do.  Cape Hatteras, NC (zone 8) is warmer in winter (47 degrees F average low in January) than is Dallas (46 degrees) and shares the same zone as Charleston, SC, which is a good six-hour drive south (and where all courses are open all year).  Some locations in New Mexico share the same minimum temperature profiles as locations in Washington State.  We've read advertisements for communities in the valleys of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina that tout thermal idiosyncrasies that make their locations golf friendly in winter, even though ski areas are less than a mile away.  After pondering the map, we believe it.
    The upshot is that if climate and year-round golf are major considerations in your relocation plans - it is the major consideration for many - plant hardiness geography can help you map out the proper course. 

    For a view of the hardiness map, click here .