The week itself has been somewhat mixed. There has been a dry-down for some, but at this stage damage has been already done and the issue with green speeds has certainly come to the forefront as superintendents try to protect the greens through the brutal heat. One thing that has also almost certainly disappeared with the anaerobic soil conditions combining nicely with cruel heat is turfgrass roots. This means surfaces may become a little soft and inconsistent, so trying to judge best mowing heights is nigh on impossible. Remnants of Pythium can be seen in low spots and on some fairways, while further south unfortunately summer patch has made its way onto greens. Reports of grub digging have emerged already – indicating that the mild winter really did leave us a little off on the timing of various applications. It is just over one week, however, until Aug. 15 and so many are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.
Continuing to do the right things from an agronomical standpoint will win the day. Making judgment calls based on incoming weather conditions and staying calm in the face of adversity will get you through – no rash decisions! Our other annual issue – the disappearance of rough bluegrass Poa trivialis because it got too hot in the kitchen has really kicked in, and so the dormancy will leave a stain from now until the middle of September. Patience will be required as well as a lot of seed – get after it and finish strong!
These constant rains have saturated soils through out the Midwest. This has caused a switch in the issues arriving at the TDL. With all the rains stress diseases and abiotic issues are showing up. Pythium has been on the increase especially where we have a soil profile with a layer of organic matter. Due to the humidity and rainfall these layers are saturated and perfect breeding ground for pythium. In these cases a god aerification program can assist in diluting the organic matter and improving drainage for next summer.
Abiotic issues have been on the increase. These wet, hot, humid conditions are not allowing the soil profile to dry down. When the soils don’t dry they have a deceases oxygen content and thus un-happy plants. During these tough times with the goal for firm fast greens, sometimes our maintenance practices are increased. The extra rolling, topdressing, double cutting and possibly extra PGR applications can be very detrimental. I know the golfers do not see the issue, but after a few weeks of this with no recovery time the turf canopy declines. Where can we draw the line between a few complaints about speed that will in time lead to the complaints about bad greens? Just this week I have been dealing with a few Superintendents in this situation that after a few weeks of fighting speed are now in a battle with anthracnose, and it has been a battle.
Some of you may have noticed the greens have a touch of brown in them in patches. This is due to several reasons. Earlier this spring we applied some growth regulating products to try and reduce the amount of seed heads the annual bluegrass produces. This can cause the grass to turn brown when we get some cold, frosty nights like we had last week. We also have a bit of a fungus called leaf spot infecting some of the grass. This fungus mostly feeds on older leaves but since the grass is growing slowly it is more evident. The brown should go away with time as we get more consistently warmer temperatures, especially at night.
Spring is in the air, and the course is greening up nicely. The whole golf course came out of winter in great shape and we are excited for a new golf season and starting the process of evaluating the course for fall renovations. The renovations will improve many aspects of the course, especially bunkers-which will make us all happy!
What do you do in the winter? That is a question we get all the time. The following list doesn’t include everything we do but will help you appreciate and understand what winter golf course maintenance entails.
- Snow removal/de-icing parking lots and sidewalks. We have a large amount of events in the clubhouse in the winter on weekends/evenings as well as weekly Rotary club meetings and card players.
- Annual equipment maintenance and repairs. All mower blades and reels get sharpened. Bearings in mowers and rollers are cleaned up or replace. Major repair projects that were put off until winter to eliminate downtime during the season.
- Advance ordering of fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals.
- Put a fresh coat of paint on tee markers, 150 yard posts, ballwashers, etc.
- Continuing education. There are a lot of conferences and workshops during the winter months.
- Capital purchase planning
- Budget refinements
- Monitor the course and ice on greens and remove ice/snow if deemed necessary.