Monday, July 9, 2012

Heat Wave Update

If you've been on the golf course during the past few weeks, you don't need me to tell you it's been hot and dry!  We are thankfully experiencing a cooling trend back to normal temperatures.  The "cool" air puts a spring back in our step and gives us a chance to reflect on course conditions and on the challenges we've overcome.

Here are a some stats for those who like numbers:

  • During May we observed 3.15 inches of rain compared to 4.74 inches in a "Normal" May.
  • We also received 3.15 inches in June compared to 4.94 normal.
  • We have received No rain so far in July but would normally expect to have received 4.18 inches by month's end.
  • June Average Daytime High = 86 (81 Normal)
  • July Average Daytime High = 96 (86 Normal)
  • June 27: 101
  • June 28: 97
  • July 1: 97
  • July 2: 97
  • July 3: 99
  • July 4: 101
  • July 5: 101
  • July 6: 102
  • July 7: 100
What does all this mean for the turf? and for golf course maintenance?  Our cool- season turfgrasses essentially shut down during these periods of stress.  High air and soil temperatures can have a cumulative effect on the plant- decreased roots and overall decline in turf quality.   Recovery does not occur in earnest until temperatures recede in the fall.  Therefore, we must modify our maintenance practices to keep the turf healthy through summer. 

All things considered, the golf course is in excellent condition.  We are actually quite glad that we are hot and dry rather than hot and wet.  Excess moisture during high heat & humidity is the recipe for turf decline and for turf diseases to run rampant.  Hopefully this is the worst heat we will see this year.  Either way, we are confident in our turf and in our ability to provide good playing conditions and; most importantly, healthy turf. 

Greens: are performing very well. Speed has been somewhat slower.  We increased the height of cut and we're mowing and rolling less frequently.  We will return the mowing height to normal and resume our mowing/ rolling schedule with cooler weather.  We will continue to vent greens by aerifying with 1/4 inch solid tines once per month.  Each green's moisture content is monitored several times per day and each one receives an individualized dose of water. 

Collars: are performing better than expected given the extra challenges involved in maintaining turf in the intersection of greens and roughs.  Core aeration has been increased this spring and early summer to relieve compaction and thatch- it appears as though this effort is paying off big time.

Hand watering of localized dry spots is the norm. 
Roots are deep and healthy.

Fairways & Tees: are also doing very well.  We are continually monitoring moisture in the fairway and adjust each sprinkler's run time to provide uniform moisture through the peaks and valleys.   Tees are hand watered when necessary.

When soil temperatures soar into the 90's roots stop functioning.
Turf canopy temperatures well over 100.
A light mist of water not only cools the turf surface but also temporarily lowers cell temperatures through the cooling effect of evaporation.
Rough: The first cut is doing very well.  Areas with little or no irrigation coverage are going a dormant brown.  We do the best that we can in these areas with hoses and portable sprinklers.  Do not be disturbed by dormant rough.  This is the plant's natural "last defense" for surviving a drought.  The turf will break dormancy when rains and adequate moisture return.

Irrigation System: is getting a workout.  We are constantly tuning our watering programs and repairing sprinklers which fail more frequently during periods of heavy watering.

Grounds Crew:  Seasonal staff have been going home early to escape the heat.  Full- time staff work longer hours to keep an eye on your turf- we're stressed but appreciate those who offer praise and brave the heat with us to enjoy your golf course!