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.