Good morning on an actually sunny day here at Elcona, where final preparations are being completed for this year’s Walter O. Wells Invitational. Our staff has done a wonderful job through all the record near 14″ rainfall we have received in the last 24 days, and I could not be prouder of their efforts.
Many of the preparations that lead up to the Invitational include mowing down native areas (which help with pace of play and controlling weed populations), adding sand to edges and any place in bunkers that need additional depth, topdressing new recovery areas that were created last year, and pruning up selected trees and trimming pond areas. Below is a video of how we added sand to bunkers this year, using our topdresser. This saved a lot of time and man power to this important task.
We also hosted our first Divot Party of the season last Tuesday night. A HUGE THANK YOU to the 28 members and their families that joined Bowser and I on the course, filling divots on every hole in 2 hours while enjoying each others company and a beverage or two. We all had a great time and I am planning on having another party in August before the Club Championship and Indiana PGA Championship. Stay tuned!
A few of you have asked about some fluctuations in green speed recently. It has been and always will be a top priority for me to keep the greens as consistent as possible while maintaining a healthy playing surface. It is not uncommon for speeds to vary from day to day based on our rolling program and other external factors. During a typical week of the peak season we will mow greens daily, and roll them on Tuesday, Wednesday afternoon, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. All of our maintenance practices are dependent on weather allowing us to do so without harming turf health or playability.
There are many other items that factor in to green speed, which include:
Moisture Levels: What can affect moisture levels? The two main culprits are rainfall/irrigation and humidity. It’s no secret that firmer/drier greens tend to be faster and soft/wet greens lead to slower speeds. We combat this as much as possible by hand watering the greens in the summer and using products to help move water down through the soil profile leading to a drier, firmer surface. With the record rainfall in the last month and high humidity days, it has been a challenge to dry the surfaces out. One way we try to dry out the rootzone is by “venting”, or aerifying them with .25″ solid tines, as depicted in the video below. After the holes are poked, we topdress and roll the green smooth. These holes allow fresh oxygen to get to the roots of the plant in addition to drying out the soil below.
Weather: What happens to your yard after it rains? It grows and typically grows much faster than it did before it rained. Rainfall provides the turf with clean, usable water that helps to flush elements from the soil that tie-up nutrients, therefore making the nutrients readily available to the turf. Nutrients lead to healthy turf which can lead to additional growth. Believe it or not, lightning also plays a large role. The unbridled energy of a lightning bolt shatters nitrogen molecules in the air. Some of the free nitrogen atoms combine with oxygen to form compounds called nitrates that mix with the rain. These nitrates are a powerful natural fertilizer that any plant can readily take up and thus increase its growth rate.
Nutrition: The turf needs food to be healthy. Just as with humans, the healthier it is, the more active it tends to be. Healthy turf will grow more than unhealthy turf.
Growth: Turf is a living, breathing entity. It doesn’t just grow at night when most of us are sleeping, it grows during the day as well. This means that the greens will usually be slower in the afternoon than they are in the morning. Again with the record rainfall this last month, greens are growing at a much higher rate than they were in May and June. We have verticut them today to remove some of the excessive growth.
Topdressing: Typically in season, we apply and broom in topdressing sand, and the amount of sand varies based on the rate at which the plant is growing. Topdressing sand helps smooth and firm up the surface of the greens. A smoother surface provides less friction on the golf ball and a faster speed.
Growth Regulators: Growth regulators work and work very well, but despite what you may think, they do not completely stop growth, they merely slow it down. Over the years we have found a schedule that will provide very consistent results from day to day, minimizing surges in growth, but like everything else, the performance of the product is dependent upon several of the factors listed above.
I would encourage you to spend a few moments before each round on one of the practice greens. They are maintained the same as the greens on the golf course and will give you a good reference as to what the greens on the course will be like on that given day.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great week and I will see you out on the golf course!