Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Just When We Had Finally Dried Out . . .

Yesterday was the first day that drought stress was evident on various tufgrass areas throughout the course since early June.  The abundance of rain in recent weeks has led to saturated soils, damaging the turfgrass root systems in many low lying areas.  These areas will be more susceptible to damage and more readily show stress for the rest of the summer.  Since the putting greens and tees are well-drained, the impact to these areas will be minimal.  Golf course maintenance staff members will use traffic control measures to carefully route traffic around these areas in the fairways and rough.  Additional care will be given to these sensitive areas in order to nurture them through the remainder of the summer.

Since the turf had begun to exhibit the above-mentioned symptoms of drought stress, irrigation was schedule for last night.  When scheduling irrigation, many factors are taken into consideration.  Each day, I review four forecasts from reputable weather services taking into account the forecasted temperature, solar radiation, humidity, dew point, and wind. This information, coupled with current turfgrass conditions and soil moisture levels, is used to determine the required amount of water.  Our computerized irrigation system allows us to customize the amount of  water that we apply to each individual green, tee, fairway, and rough area.  Even with that information, properly scheduling irrigation can be difficult.  Last night, for example, the course was showing moderate drought stress and in need of water.  The forecast for today was cool, but low humidity.  Without returning water to the turf plants, they would begin to decline and likely be in rough shape for the weekend.  Most importantly, there was between a zero and twenty percent chance of precipitation today, all of which was light rain showers at most.  Apparently that must have changed.  When I woke up this morning, a moderate rain was falling.  A strange blob of moderate rain about thirty miles wide was in the process of moving south down the Lake Michigan coast line.  Even though only a light irrigation was scheduled, the addition of the moderate rain will soften the course more than anticipated.