9 Green

9 Green

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Update 7/29/14

It has been a while since my last post. Things lately have been extremely busy and writing has taken a back seat. Monday, Mother Nature decided to impose her wrath on us once again to the tune of 3.6" of flooding rain. I haven't seen a steady, heavy rain like that in along time. Luckily it came early in the week and should provide ample time to dry down prior to the Invitational this weekend. Want to thank the crew for there hard work cleaning up from the storm. It seems like a broken record for us this year, but we push through and get the job done.

I want to address a few concerns that have been brought to my attention recently. Some of you have been asking about the speed and consistency of the greens. I will be the first to admit the greens have been all over the place though the month of July. To fully understand green speeds you must first understand the cultural practices it takes to get greens fast and consistent and how weather conditions effect the final outcome.

First off my goal each day is to provide you with the best possible putting surface with the resources I am provided. It takes a lot of mechanical and cultural inputs to produce a quality putting surface. On a daily basis we mow the greens. On league days and weekends the greens are either double cut or single cut and rolled. On average that produces the desired speed and consistency we are looking to achieve. This all gets thrown off when the weather decides to throw a wrench into our plans. Rainfall and humidity are the biggest environmental factors that effect speed. More moisture means a slower green. Heavy rain events also prevent us from preforming necessary mowing and rolling. Mowing a saturated green is the worst thing you can do for plant health and many times mowing will be skipped following heavy rains. These rain events and humidity also increase the growth of the plant. The more the plant grows the slower the speeds. We utilize weekly applications of growth regulators to even out the peaks and valleys in growth. More times than not a heavy rain event can negate the effect of the regulator and a flush of growth occurs. More growth equals slower greens. This season has been exceptionally different in terms of maintenance practices due to the winter kill we experienced. I have had at least three different cultural programs in place simultaneously on a single green. The damaged greens receive different inputs than the rest of the course to promote recovery. When you promote recovery you promote growth. As I stated above growth slows down greens. 1 and 4 greens right now are like managing two different greens on the same green. Half the green aerated with high fertility and half the green on a normal program. So this makes for different speeds on the same green and different speeds as compared to the rest of the course. This is where the consistancey issues comes into play. It has been exceptionally difficult to achieve our desired goals this season.

So that's all well and good, but why are we seeing what we have been seeing over the past month. Here is a snapshot of this months weather conditions.

2014 Temp. (°F) Dew Point (°F) Wind (mph) Precip. (in) Events
Jul high low high low high high sum
1 89 74 71 62 30 38 0.01
2 88 69 69 59 21 28 0.02 Rain/T-Storms
3 75 62 67 61 17 23 0.43 Rain
4 73 58 58 46 20 25 T
5 80 52 53 44 20 28 0
6 83 55 62 42 20 24 0
7 80 65 70 52 26 36 0.47 Rain/T-Storms
8 82 67 72 60 30 43 1.03 Rain/T-Storms
9 73 60 62 54 21 29 T
10 74 53 54 43 15 22 0
11 79 53 56 48 14 18 0
12 85 60 63 55 12 15 0
13 79 68 72 61 21 28 0.41 Rain
14 78 65 68 51 14 16 T Rain
15 79 60 68 50 23 31 0.87 Rain/T-Storms
16 74 58 54 51 18 26 0
17 75 54 55 48 14 17 0
18 77 53 56 45 12 15 0
19 76 58 65 51 12 15 0.15 Rain
20 79 64 66 61 14 17 0.28 Rain
21 84 65 67 63 15 17 0
22 88 63 68 62 12 15 0 Fog
23 82 69 70 66 18 25 0.75 Rain

I highlighted all the days we received significant rain events. This doesn't include our recent 3.6" event.  Notice how most of our rainfall and high humidity for the month of July has fallen on league days and weekends. Those are obviously our peak play days and the days we strive for greens speed. These rain events wiped out any speed we might have had and set us back to square one. The event on the 15th was the wide spread wind damage we received so all resources went to clean-up. Same for the event on the 7th and 8th, all resources went to pumping water off the course. As for Men's League on the 23rd, two heavy down pours left us .75" of rain and standing water.

We also had the privilege of hosting the US Amateur qualifier earlier this month. Hosting an event like this requires us to produce extremely fast greens speeds. We double cut and rolled for 4 days prior to the event and also preformed these practices the night prior to and the morning of the event. This is what it takes to produce these speeds. In an ideal world we would like greens like this everyday, but at the end of the day it's not possible given our resources. It takes a lot of manpower, chemical, and ferilizer inputs to achieve this on a daily basis. Since this is not possible for us, we strive to find a happy medium and give you tournament speeds for special events. This is only a taste of a discussion on green speeds, but I hope it shed some light on this subject for you.

The second thing brought to my attention is the browish areas of turf on the front nine fairways. These areas are caused by a disease known as Anthracnose. This disease attacks all types of turf, but especially preys upon annual bluegrass. The disease occurs naturally in the soil and begins to damage turf when conditions are right. Anthracnose is most severe on stressed turf under high humidity and moisture. If you go back to the weather records above we had near 90 degree weather at the beginning of the month with a rain event. This began stressing the annual bluegrass on our fairways. That was followed by some drier weather and some drought stress while trying to produce some firm surfaces for the Amateur Quailifer. The drought stress further hurt the turf and the infection took hold. We experience damage from this disease every year, but never to this extent. By nature annual bluegrass is a weaker species of turf, which is more susceptible to stress. The extreme winter we experienced really took a toll on the bluegrass. An already weak plant started the season off weaker than normal setting us up for what we are experiencing now. This disease can be controlled with fungicides. Our spray program on fairways is geared towards preventing most summer diseases.  Anthracnose control how ever takes higher doses of fungicides which are beyond our resources. We try and combat this problem with increased fertility to build a healthier plant that will with stand attacks. Even with best laided plans Mother Nature exposed a weakness. It will take time, but the turf is recovering. Additional fungicides have been applied along with a healthy dose of fertilizer. Not only is this disease attacking our fairways, but it has gotten some of our collars and approach areas in front of the greens. It is not pretty to look at, but it will recover.  

Like I said earlier this year, this season would be challenging due to the winter we experienced. Here we are in late July and still seeing the effects. If you have any further questions I would be more than happy to address them.