Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Stresses of Summer Newsletter

Stresses of Summer 

Summer has been here for a while and isn't going anywhere soon. We have seen a variety of weather ranging from cool and dry to hot, wet, and humid. Weather heavily dictates how we approach the course from an agronomy stand point. It effects when we mow, what chemical applications we apply, how often we roll, and the overall set-up of the course. The latter is what effects members and guests the most. Our main objective is to provide championship conditions throughout the entire year while maintaining a healthy playing surface.

During the summer there are many factors that cause turf stress. These factors include: high temperatures, high humidity, heavy traffic from golf, and traffic from maintenance. The only stress factor we can truly manage is that caused by our agronomy practices. Routinely mowing and rolling greens may provide quicker greens, however, these actions are detrimental to a plant that is already battling stress. Greens may be a little slower in the summer as we may periodically skip mowing them for a day to give them rest, especially during hot, wet cycles. This provides the most important asset of the course a day to recover during a period when everything is trying to weaken the plant. It is vital to ensure that the greens come out of summer, healthy and are strong enough to be pushed during the fall when the weather is more favorable to providing lightning quick greens.


 Fans

Fans are another tool that are used to battle the stresses of summer in Southern Indiana. These large fans cool the turf canopy by as much as 15°F. This in return cools the soil profile resulting in a better growing medium for roots. The stronger the roots in a plant the better prepared the turf is for handling stress and being able to come out of summer healthy. Along with cooling of the canopy and soil the fans provide air movement which can help with the drying of the greens reducing disease pressure.

Cart Restrictions 

Fairways are under stress much like the greens but they also have to deal with the stress of golf cart traffic. Most of you are aware that we will keep carts on traffic due to the course being too wet. We will also keep carts off of certain fairways during periods of high stress to protect the entrances and exits of the fairway. Many of the short par 4's only have one entrance or exit leaving no room to move traffic patterns. This leaves us with the only option being to close the hole to cart traffic. Every hole is assessed on a daily basis and when we begin to notice traffic areas becoming weak or showing signs of stress it is vital that we restrict cart traffic to ensure the overall health of the playing surface.

 Divots

On fairways and tees we ask you to fill divots with the divot mix provided. Throughout the year we continue to refill divots with mix and seed. However, during the summer it may seem like divots are not growing in. This is due to the seed not germinating because the high temps force the seed into dormancy. As cooler temperatures arrive in the fall the divots will begin to fill in. Divot pelts should not be replaced in divots as they will not root or grow back in during the higher temperatures. It is best to fill all divots with mix and wait until fall for the seed to germinate and fill in the divots.

 Handwatering

Depending on weather conditions, the maintenance staff can be seen handwatering the golf course throughout the afternoon. It can be done to cool off the plant reducing heat stress on the plant or it is done to provide water to the plant. Our irrigation system can provide water to large areas in a very nonspecific manner, this causes low areas to become wet and stay wet. As we handwater we are able to apply water to very specific areas which allows us to provide even playing surfaces throughout the course.


Overall the goal of all of our agronomic practices is to reduce stress on the turf during the summer months while still maintaining championship conditions. We assess and evaluate the golf course on a daily basis and determine what practices will provide championship conditions to our golfers while still maintaining a healthy stand of grass.


Sincerely,

Gerald Smith
Assistant Superintendent

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