The year is already half over and the relentless rainy weather pattern is showing signs of letting up finally, with a return of summer like temperatures. Since March 15, Elcona has received over 20” of rainfall, which the National Weather Service is saying makes 2019 one of the top 5 wettest starts to a year on record. Our staff has done a tremendous job keeping up with the surges in growth and excess water removal on the course and I could not be more proud to work with such a great group of people. The Walter O. Wells Invitational is right around the corner and we are excited to prepare the course for the premier event for the club.
With these heavy amounts of rainfall, it serves a great reminder that mosquitoes and ticks are out in full force now. If you hit an errant shot into the natural areas, or are helping a buddy find theirs, please double check yourself for ticks. If you need to apply bug repellent during your round, please apply it on the cart paths or parking lots. Bug sprays can discolor or even kill any turfgrass and plants, especially on greens, tees, and fairways. The picture shown above depicts what damage can occur. You can make out the footprints and the brown turf around them. Thank you for your cooperation on this.
Also, we are smack in the middle of thunderstorm season. When inclement weather approaches the course, or if lightning is detected within 10 miles of the golf course, the Pro Shop staff will blow the siren indicting that it is mandatory you seek shelter immediately. This link here is a video from the Weather Channel explaining the different ways lightning can severely harm or kill you out on the course. I have also included a pretty dramatic picture of an oak tree getting struck just minutes after the siren was sounded at this year’s US Women’s Open. Here is a link to the video from Fox Sports. The take home message here is that when the siren sounds, please come seek shelter immediately. Please shelter in place until you hear a second siren, which sounds only when the threat has passed and it is safe to resume play and the golf course is in a condition to do so. Your life is worth much more than finishing the hole you are playing.
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.
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.
Sand topdressing applied to 15 green
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!