Sunday, August 28, 2016

Rough Road to Recovery

One week ago, we were looking forward to a small break in the heat.  As promised by the weather forecasters, we got just that--a very small break, before the heat and humidity returned.  During the past three weeks, we've experienced above average temperatures 18 out of 21 days, with 13 of those in the 90's.

By itself, these temperatures make for a rough road to recovery from aerification.  However, we also have had to rely largely on irrigation water to keep the turf going, as we are behind in rainfall by close to 75% for the month.  There's no better time to see the uniformity (or lack thereof) in irrigation coverage than under these conditions.  We've been hand watering 150-200 man hours per week, and the golf course still has the Goldilocks syndrome:  Too wet here, too dry there, and just right over here.

It shouldn't come as a great surprise, but any areas which were weaker going into aerification have been struggling to recover.  The extra strike they may be dealing with is high traffic, lack of morning sunlight, poor irrigation coverage, sandy soil, etc.

While the Bentgrass is looking good, the Poa annua in the walk-on/walk-off area of #14 green is still not loving life.

Given what we've experienced this year, one might ask the question, "If environmental conditions are so tough and the turf is weak, then why the heck are we aerifying now?"

Aerification in August generally coincides with temperatures dropping, a strong labor force to complete the task, and helps prevent Poa Annua encroachment in the fine turf areas.  In 2017, we will be starting the aerification process one week later, again, in hopes that the weather is heading in the right direction.  If we look back at how the process has worked over the past 10+ years, we find that the timing has worked well--aerify, heal, and get some great conditions for golf in the fall.
Not just hot, but record heat this month!

Unfortunately, for the moment, we need some patience until we have consistently seasonable temperatures, rainfall...and the needle drops below the red line.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Hoping to Heal the Holes

To be blunt, the past two weeks were a brutal time to be aerifying, and trying to have turf recover.  While aerification provides some great long-term plant health benefits (such as decreasing compaction, thatch removal, increased pore space), the short-term injury can be significant.  Couple this with the longest heat wave of the year, and it kept things interesting to say the least.

One of the other things we continue to see is the significant difference in recovery time from aerification, based on environmental growing conditions.  If you were to walk from #9 to #18 greens, you'd quickly see that 18 appears to be several days behind in filling in.  Even on the putting green, the inner half, which has less sunlight and air movement, looks totally different than the outer half. 

These two pictures were taken within 30 seconds of each other:


Fortunately, we'll be getting a brief break in the weather this week.  Some cool nights will do a world of good for the turf, as it looks to reach the finish line of a marathon-like summer.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

In the blink of an eye...

There's certainly no shortage of topics to discuss surrounding the golf course:  Aerification, (another) powerful heat wave on tired turf, and the Master Plan.

While you can't blame anyone for choosing the pool over golf right now, you really should get out on the course and get a firsthand look at the work that's been done thus far.  The team from Mottin Golf works quickly and efficiently.  Below are a couple of pictures from #15:

We're falling a bit behind on documenting construction, as a huge amount of work took place on #2 and #3 this past week.  Hopefully we will catch up soon.

The Master Plan significantly reduces the square footage of bunkers on the course.  However, with the positioning of several bunkers being tweaked around the greens, it would be wise to keep the sand wedge handy!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Master Plan and More...Much More

As seen below, monitoring the steps of the Master Plan work requires attention.  However, this isn't the time of year we can focus solely on one thing, since other areas of the course continue to cause challenges as we enter August.

For example, the pump station between #5 green and #6 tee was having difficulty maintaining pressure with its small submersible pump.  We discovered that the pump's discharge pipe had corroded, causing the water to recirculate back into the wet well, instead of the irrigation system. 

The good news is that the pump didn't need replacing, and we were able to dive in and put a temporary clamp around the hole until the discharge pipe was replaced this week.

From the category of "We haven't seen that before...",  all of the wet weather last week led to slime mold developing on several of the greens.  Fortunately, it poses little risk to the turf.  On #12 we were treated to three different colors at the same time.

Early in the week, we noticed thinning of Bentgrass on several tees.  After soaking some plugs in a lemon dish detergent solution, high counts of Annual Bluegrass Weevil larvae were found--this too belongs in the "never seen before" category.  Bentgrass can handle weevils much better than Poa, but 100 weevils per square foot is enough to do damage to Bent, especially at this time of year.  A treatment was made to the tees the next morning.

In looking at any areas of concentrated cart or foot traffic (aka pinch points), it's evident that there's a lot of tired turf on the golf course right now.  We will begin aerification on Monday, along with Master Plan work on #3.  Undoubtedly this will continue to keep things interesting!