Monday, August 2, 2010

Fighting the Good Fight

It has been a challenging season for us here with the grounds department. With the rain falling down outside, we feel it is a good time to take a moment to reflect on the season, comment on our current circumstances, and outline our thoughts going forward.

We experienced a very productive spring characterized by dry, mild temperatures. The favorable weather allowed us to have a great beginning to summer. The course was in tremendous condition for Blazer Days in the beginning of June.

During Blazer Days the weather began to turn for the worse. The Saturday rounds were barely completed before heavy rains commenced. Once the rain started to fall, we received a continual cycle of severe weather which made a mess of the golf course. We received over 14 inches of rain in June and 5 inches in July.
During this time we witnessed a drastic decline in turf quality in some areas of the course which are still with us. Many low- lying areas in the fairways literally drowned in standing water. These areas can be witnessed on holes 1, 3, 8, 11, and 13.

The poor condition of some of the rough is a a different situation. Like the fairways, some of the rough declined due to excess water. However, there were other stresses in play in the rough which also contributed to turf decline. First, is cart traffic. During wet weather we try to find a delicate balance when restricting carts. Generally, when the course is wet, carts are kept off the fairways and the rough is subsequently abused. Finally, hot, humid, rainy weather is prime conditions for turf diseases to form. We are able to fight off these diseases using plant protectants on the greens, tees, and fairways. These products are extremely expensive so use in the rough is not an economically feasible option. Pictured below is an area on the 6th hole which we will likely seed in the coming weeks.
Wakonda is not the only course experiencing these losses. For further reading check out the iaTURF blog.

Work to repair these areas began weeks ago but our efforts keep getting hampered by storm cleanup. Going forward we will evaluate areas in the fairways and the rough. Some areas will recover on their own. These areas are what we refer to as 'dormant'- the turf is not dead but growth has ceased until the stresses subside. In areas which will not recover we will be sodding and seeding. The best time of year for these activities is approaching during the end of August. You will also see us correcting drainage issues and utilizing other methods such as aerification and fertilization to promote turf recovery. We are confident that with favorable weather and a lot of manpower we will have the course in good condition through the fall.
Before and after pictures of the 13th fairway. This area was sodded a couple weeks ago and is now barely noticeable.

This has been our most lengthy blog posting to date- a fitting tribute to a season which has stressed the grounds crew. In closing we would like to focus on the fact that the greens are performing extremely well. The weather and storm cleanup has interrupted our routine of green maintenance but we feel that our members can be very proud of the playability and turf quality on Wakonda's putting surfaces.