Thursday, July 14, 2011

Preparing For the Heat

The cornerstone of the maintenance program at NSCC may be most appropriately described as taking all necessary steps to prepare for the heat of the summer. This general tenet may be easily lost on most golfers since Wisconsin summers often seem way to short. In fact, we focus our maintenance practices around preparing the course to withstand the difficult summer conditions that usually occur from July 4th to the middle of August.

Make no mistake that even though we often receive favorable growing conditions for much of the early summer and fall, this six week stretch of weather can be especially brutal. Often times, as turf managers, we see increased disease pressure, soil moisture problems caused by too much or not enough precipitation, equipment and personnel fatigue caused by long days at work, and increased traffic stress caused by golf carts and player traffic to name a few.

In order to overcome these stresses, we tailor our maintenance programs to offset these stresses. Critical maintenance practices such as aerification, sand topdressing, a balanced nutrition program for the turf, preventative application of plant protectants, drainage installation, and irrigation system maintenance highlight some of the inputs required to keep a course in top condition throughout the stressful summer months.

Once we reach this time of year, our practices our evaluated on a daily basis to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to care for the turf at NSCC. Seemingly simple steps such as daily movement of the holes on greens to evenly distribute foot traffic and tweaking of mowing heights on putting surfaces assist in caring for the turf.

As we are about to embark on the hottest stretch of weather to date, the golf course maintenance staff has intensified its preventative maintenance measures. A few examples are highlighted below.

You thought aerification means big holes and bumpy greens? Not true, you probably didn't even notice that we completed an aerification process commonly referred to as "venting" last week. Instead of pulling larger diameter cores, the golf course staff poked the greens with very small, solid tines in order to improve air movement within the soil profile.

In order to combat prolonged periods of dryness, the golf course maintenance staff applied a combination of soil wetting agents which will allow the turf to maximize the amount of water applied to the turf.

In an effort to better analyze which products are best suited and most cost effective, the 5th fairway on the Blue Nine was sprayed with multiple wetting agents. Through continual evaluation we will be best equipped to determine the best product for the dollar on next year's purchases.

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