Friday, June 8, 2018

Air flow is an important factor for healthy putting greens.

Anyone who plays golf knows of at least one green situated in a low-lying or pocketed environment, where the heat and humidity are stifling compared to other areas of the golf course. A distinct, musty odor is noticeable. The air is stagnant, and humidity levels are perpetually high.

While some may find this environment uncomfortable for a few minutes, golfers can move on to the next hole when play is through. By contrast, the turfgrass continually suffers — the grass is stuck in this environment. The root of the problem is poor air movement, and it can have a devastating impact.  Most already know that Victoria National is sitting on an abandoned strip mine site for coal with a majority of the course sitting in a hole compared to surrounding areas.    Combine this with 70+ acres of lakes, no wind at time and high heat and you have made a microclimate similar to a pressure cooker.

Research and field observations are very clear that by placing fans around your putting greens that we can greatly increase the turf health of our greens.  When soil temperatures rise above 86°F, bentgrass has a net energy loss, causing a loss of functionality of both roots and the canopy of the turf.  The oscillation of the fan blowing air across the green gives a net cooling affect for the turf canopy.  An added benefit to the fans is that it allows turfgrass managers the ability to control the moisture in the soil and keep surfaces drier.   By keeping the surfaces dry and soil moisture lower, turf managers can assist the plant in the ability to transpire (sweat) and manage soil temperatures a little closer by allowing it to cool with the night time temperatures.  Most may remember in high school the experiment between comparing the heating rates of the ocean water and the cool beach sand on a cool night in the heat of the summer.  Due to the density of the water molecules, it takes much longer for the water “moist soil” to cool down.    Another reason fans are important to the canopy is that the turfgrass uses carbon dioxide (Remember: humans breathe out carbon dioxide and take in oxygen while plants do opposite.)  Carbon Dioxide in air is only 0.035%.  Therefore, during these stress moments of summer there is oxygen-rich air surrounding the leaves tissue. The oxygen-rich air will cause the plants to go into a process called photo-respiration, where the plant is “breathing” in the air it has produced.    Best comparison would be adding 100 people into a room and sealing the room with only one small vent hole.  At some point the room will fill with carbon dioxide and the people will begin having a hard time breathing due to the lack of oxygen in the air.

Fans are one of many important way to help with turf health in the middle of the summer, but other are increasing turf height, ensuring proper drainage, proper plant health protectants, and syringing to name just a few.   May of 2018 was the hottest on record for recordable May’s in over 124 years and fans have already been placed and will be running throughout the summer from this point forward.  An added benefit to our fans is they will give you a wonderful breeze while on every green before you hit your next tee shot.   Victoria National does have atleast one fan for every hole on the course.

Kindest Regards,

Kyle Callahan

Victoria National Slideshow