So why are the redwoods that line the fairways and dot the rough slowly fading into firewood? Two reasons: sodium buildup in the soil and a high water table.
Our water source isn't the worst water out there, but it isn't the best either. Coupled with our dense clay soils and high water table, the sodium present in our water builds to levels toxic to redwoods. We've tried to flush the soil surrounding these trees using gypsum and heavy irrigation just as we would the greens. A flush on the greens requires nearly 6 inches of irrigation to drop the sodium by 50% in a sand green. This is with water flowing through the profile at a decent rate. That kind of drainage is not possible around the redwoods.
We've done well this year keeping our bicarbonates in check with proper monitoring and irrigation to clean out the soil profile. Only 4 greens are currently experiencing these pockets of sodium and we walk and probe them daily to keep the fire below a smolder.
If the soil gets out of balance with sodium topping potassium and many other nutrient ratios out of whack, bad things will happen. Back in 2006, my first summer as Superintendent (lucky it wasn't my last), the instrument I use to test bicarbonates in the soil was not calibrated correctly and the stuff hit the fan.
It's hard to keep down your lunch when a few of the greens look like this:
Today that green looks great and contains a much higher percentage of bentgrass since much of the poa did not survive that summer four years ago. Many aerifications later and amending of the soil have improved drainage and the sodium is not holding on like it used to. The roots have some air to breath and there is some pore space for water movement and additional growth.
The staff has done a great job this year and each and every day they continue to improve the conditions we offer the membership. There is still a ton of work to do and we have a massive list to prove it. One item was: write a positive blog today. Check. Done. What's next?
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