Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer is here

I just read my last post which was a full two weeks ago.  It seems like longer now that we just had our third straight day of near 100 degree weather.  The course changes in many ways at the onset of this type of summer heat, some good and some bad.

Let's start with the bad:  First off, the irrigation system better be ready to go, because it is GO TIME!!  We can't afford to have problems with our control boxes, pump house, or the central control computer.  Any work on these components should have been taken care of long before the thermometer hits 100 degrees.  That being said, we still have the small problems that pop up at the worst possible times so we have to catch them quickly.  Every crew member is encouraged to keep a watchful eye on the golf course and report wet spots, dry spots, or possible signs of disease as soon as they see them.

Second is the disease pressure and heat stress.  Some grass is not going to enjoy this summer weather.  Poa annua obviously is not conditioned for heat or drought.  Many diseases show up after grass has been weakened by another factor like heat stress, drought, over watering, sodium, or fertility imbalance.  We have to do our best to minimize these problems before they lead to larger, devastating problems. 

Now the good...... what good can come of 100 degree temperatures?  Well, the bermudagrass absolutely loves it.  In fact, I've seen bermuda fill a void at 6 inches per day when temperatures pass the 100 degree mark.  Our three bermuda fairways are starting to come around.  We had some spring dead spot, but recovery is only a few more days away.  The rough is also improved by the increased growth rate of the bermudagrass.  Our rough is a Heinz 57 of grasses and the bermuda helps to increase density and makes the ball sit up nicely.  We can also keep water times relatively low to promote dry conditions without losing too much turf.

Finally, it is my opinion that a little stress, if managed properly will result in a better playing golf course.  I'm sure I've said this on the blog before, but it is a saying I really like and adopted from Billy James, Stockton GCC's previous superintendent, "If you're not killing anything, you're not trying hard enough."  It's the strength of the herd theory applied to turfgrass.  Let the strong grass survive and flourish while the weak species fade away.

We definitely have some annual bluegrass fading out and we try to let the bermuda fill in.  Many green surrounds still have the ryegrass overseeding from last fall and dry conditions will also favor the rye over the poa.  Growth regulators are being used on all the greens to manage speed and turf species populations. 

The course is doing good with the warmer weather and the crew is getting used to the heat.  Izzo, our course dog hates the summer because she is out of shape and is terrified of sprinklers.  Sad, isn't it?  Don't worry Izzo, just 91 more days until fall arrives.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Back up and rollin'

You don't want to see this in your shop.  Our one and only roller, held up by tow straps, covered in grease from the blown bearings, and helpless as it waits for new parts.  The roller went down on the final day of the Invitational on May 21st.  This is the second time this has happened, before the final round, at the exact same spot of the course, during the 2nd pass on the putting green.  The damage is of the wear and tear type, so it's a mystery how it always knows when to break down at the worst time.

We try to roll the greens 3-4 times per week and more if we have the weekend staff to do so.  This is an extremely important practice that does more than increase green speed.  It has actually been shown to decrease some diseases and certainly puts less stress on the greens than a mower.

The final round of the Invitational, the greens had topped out at 10.5 feet on the stimp meter which is below average for our usual tournament speed.  The rain was to blame for that one; we had standing water in 7 fairways the day before the practice round.  Rolling the greens will only get the speed up to a certain point.  You also need to consider smoothness by way of topdressing, grooming, and verticutting.  Moisture management is important and can be managed when mother nature is not calling the shots.  Mowing height is certainly important, but not my option when it comes to speeding up the greens.

In the 2+ weeks that the roller has been down, we've lost a full foot of green speed!!  They look smooth and tight.  They feel firm and healthy.  We are still grooming and lightly topdressing on a regular basis and the mowing height is the same as tournament time, but we are a full foot slower sitting around 9.5.

So..... raise your glass to the glorious return of the all powerful roller.  The greens will be back up to normal speed by Friday especially with this new found, spring-like weather.  It feels gooooood.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bermuda fairways, spring transition

You may have noticed that a couple of the fairways don’t look quite as green as the others.  Numbers 10 (above) and 17 both have been converted to common bermuda and were sprayed with a selective herbicide six weeks ago to remove the annual grasses that came in this winter.  The weather has hampered recovery and growth of the bermuda which would much rather have 100 degree temperatures compared to the unseasonably cool weather we’re dealing with.

The 11th fairway is also common bermuda and was treated with a pre-emergent product to keep the poa annua from invading the fairway.  This fairway went dormant and turned brown for a very short period this winter, but provided a good playing surface the whole time.  We have the same goal for both the 10th and 17th fairways once they get thick enough to handle winter play.  

For now, they will be a little spotty, but quick to fill in when summer shows up.  We are going to have a summer this year, aren’t we?