Friday, July 23, 2010

Too Much Of A Good Thing

Rain, rain, go away! While it's true that a well timed rainfall or even thunderstorm can provide to much a drought-stricken golf course, too much rain can spell disaster for golf course turf. Since last week, NSCC has received over 6 inches of rain on top of an already wet year. To put this in perspective, the automated irrigation system has only been utilized 4 times since June, whereas in a normal year it is utilized, at least on a limited basis, almost nightly. What happens when to the grass when it rains too much?

  • Drowning. When grass receives too much water, the delicate balance between air and water in the soil is skewed. When water replaces the oxygen, the turfgrass roots begin to die back, and, in some cases, cause the plant to die.

  • Disease. Most turgrass disease thrive in hot and wet conditions. Even though we treat greens, tees, and fairways on a preventative basis with a variety of plant protectant products, already wet and weakened turfgrass becomes extremely susceptible to a variety of diseases which may result in death to turfgrass plants.

  • Drought Stress. Once the rain leaves and dry conditions resume, the turf plants, and especially their root systems, are left in a very vulnerable state. The root die-back, caused by saturated soils, reduces the length of the roots to an inch or less. This means that as soon the top inch of soil begins to dry out, the plants run the risk of dying due to lack of water.

The golf course maintenance staff has been extremely busy this very wet and warm summer. Not only do the bunkers need to be continually pumped and repaired, the turf requires extra attention as well. In order to minimize the adverse affects of excess water, the grounds and greens staff will remove excess water from the course via pumps and squeegees, make additional applications of plant protectant materials, and even utilize fans and blowers to promote drying to especially sensitive areas of the course. The most important thing that we, as turf managers, can do now is to take a cautious approach. Right now, fast greens and golf carts take a back seat to prudent and conservative management. Once the difficult stretch of weather ends, we will once again strive to provide fast greens and improved golfer accessibility to the course.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

4 Red Green Vandalism Repair Ongoing

As most of you are now aware, the 4th green on the Red Nine sustained a significant amount of damage due to vandalism on June 25. The putting surface was punctured multiple times with the flagstick, profanity was applied with spray paint, and a herbicide was also dumped on the turf. The golf course staff immediately repaired the puncture wounds and plugged out the spray painted profanity. Since the time of the incident, the golf course maintenance staff has been carefully assessing the condition of the portion of the green treated with herbicide. In order to minimize disruption to the putting surface, sodding was deemed to be the least desirable option to repair the damage. Unfortunately, the hot weather of June and July did not lend itself for turf recovery. Instead, the marginal areas of the putting surface continued to decline. On July 20th, the maintenance staff replaced the damaged portions of the green with sod from our nursery. Following the removal of the damaged turf, the grade was carefully leveled by hand and new sod was installed and watered. The finished product was then flattened by using a plate compactor. Even though the maintenance staff members completed the project with extreme care, the final product will provide a less than desirable putting surface for a time. Not only will the sod seams take time to fill, it is nearly impossible to mimic the subtleties of a putting surface to perfection. When you consider that the putting surfaces are mowed at less than 1/8 inch, some scalping is inevitable, even when the green is mowed at a slightly higher height. Please be sure to see the pro shop in order to play the green in a way that is consistent with the rules of golf.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Venting Putting Greens Completed

The golf course maintenance staff successfully "vented" all 29 putting greens on Tuesday, July 6. The practice of venting is a very labor-intensive practice of solid tine (no cores) aerification which is completed over the summer months causing only a minimal disruption to play. The golf course maintenance staff utilized 1/8" solid tines which were spaced on 2" centers and entered the ground to a 3" depth. This practice allows the greens to "breath" during the hot and humid summer months. The timing was perfect this year as we are currently in the midst of a streak of extremely hot and humid days. The holes created in the greens open up channels for improved air exchange, enabling the greens to perform as they were intended following the implementation of the practice. After the small holes were created by a self-propelled aerifier, the greens were immediately rolled to smooth any turfgrass tufting that occurred as a result of the practice. The greens were playable immediately following the venting procedure, and the small holes will be almost imperceptible by the weekend.