Friday, July 22, 2011


 The "Dog Days" of summer are upon us and we are feeling the heat at Wakonda.  We have changed the work schedule for our seasonal staff to avoid working during the hottest time of day.  We are now starting our workday at 5 AM and the majority of our staff heads for home at 11:30. 

The grounds staff aren't the only creatures dealing with the extreme temperatures.  Remember, the golf course is alive and must also cope with the stresses that come during this time of year.  If you have played golf recently you have undoubtedly noticed that the course is getting quite dry and there are some areas that are turning brown.  Don't be worried.  The vast majority of these areas are in the rough where we do not have irrigation coverage and this turf is merely going dormant until more favorable conditions return.  

Every part of the course is different and requires specific management but the grounds crew is working feverishly to keep the course alive and healthy.  We are constantly probing the earth to check for moisture, repairing sprinklers, adjusting sprinkler run times, and adding supplemental water through hoses and hand watering. 

The most difficult area of any golf course to manage is the collar around the green.  The collar receives extra traffic from greens maintenance practices- when mowing, rolling, and topdressing we must travel across the collar to maintain the green.  Bunkers are also an added challenge for the collar.  First and foremost, the bunker creates a "bottleneck" where mowers and foot traffic become concentrated.  Also, when sand is ejected from the bunker as a result from a golf shot it often lands on the collar.  This creates two problems.  First, the sand becomes very hot and scalds the turf- think of walking barefoot on the beach on a hot day.  Second, the sand can accumulate over time and effectively topdress the collar with bunker sand so turf in the area is often growing in soil which is poorly suited to support plant growth. 

Turf in front of #6 green showing stress.

Our collars are performing as expected.  They are healthy but some ares are showing signs of heat and traffic stress.  We are doing several things to nurse the collars through this challenging part of the season.  First, we have raised the mowing heights by about 10% to 1/2 inch.  Second, we have and will be aerating some of the collars to relieve compaction and allow for gas/ water exchange.  Third, we are checking each green, and collar every day for dry areas and hand watering as needed.  Finally, we utilize plastic lattice to help protect the turf from the traffic stress caused by our greens mowers. 

Plastic lattice- purchased from home improvement stores are lightweight and easily transported and moved.  They provide protection from the grinding motion of a turning greens mower.