Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Grass is Growing, way too fast

Spring is a beautiful time at every golf course.  The grass greens up all by itself without a boat load of fertilizer, the trees are in bloom, and everything looks a little brighter when the temps pop up by a few degrees.  On the flip side, we can barely keep up with all the growth, especially the rough.  We have yet to ramp up to a full staff and have been short a few employees since the first of December.  They are scheduled to return towards the end of this month and I am sure they will be busy from the very start.

We currently are mowing down the rough as often as possible.  During the regular growing season, 2 staff members dedicating a total of 80 hours of labor can keep the rough maintained at a reasonable height.  We currently mow the rough at 2 inches as decided within the Green Committee in our Golf Course Standards and Objectives.  This is a good height and offers the best compromise between playability, penalty, and health of the turf.  However, between rain days, tournaments, and time constraints, the height of rough can vary between 2 inches and 5 inches.

This time of year, all the stored energy in a grass plant's root zone is releasing directly to leaf and eventually seed growth.  The "Spring Green Up" ads you'll start seeing on television any time now are best ignored.  The plant is going to grow whether you fertilize or not.  Crabgrass control is another issue and should be conducted in the next 3-4 weeks.

We will do our best during the spring flush to keep the course in top playing condition.  You will find varied heights of the rough here or there, so stay in the fairway.  See, it's just that simple. 

To keep the clippings under control we utilize backpack blowers, walk behind blowers, and our big, tractor-mounted blower.  Not only does this help to maintain a manicured appearance, it also prevents clumps of grass from matting down and killing turf.  Another practice you'll see is two employees dragging a hose to disperse morning dew and clippings on the fairways. 

These growing conditions will persist for the next month and then we'll get back to normal.  I often tease our Assistant Superintendent, Rob Williams, that this place is "too damn green," as if it's all his fault.  I like a little brown, a little blue, and a little stress.  Were months away from attaining the lean, mean, firm summer conditions that we are most proud of.  But if you're going to be super green, then this is the day to do it.  We even dyed a few flags green and fly them for St. Patrick's Day.