Wednesday, July 17, 2013

ARE WE IN THE MIDDLE OF SUMMER, OR...................

It's July and most people would say we are in the middle of summer.
Golf Course Superintendents refer to this time of year as “The 100 days of Hell”.
Superintendents expect that the months of June, July and August will be the most stressful to our turf grass, and can cause the loss of grass regardless of what tools we have at our disposal. We can’t bring our greens in from the heat for a 30 minute cool-down in air conditioning the way humans and pets can. We need to do everything in our power to reduce the stress so the turf plant can make it through this extreme weather until we get to more realistic weather patterns.
This damage was simply caused from a cart driving over an area where the grass
was under high stress and the weight of the cart driving over the grass pushed it
beyond its ability to make it through the day.
If you have been on the golf course lately you have, no doubt, seen the fans running and been interrupted by staff watering greens with  hand held hoses, or by running the overhead sprinklers. Just as a small breeze helps cool you down as you are walking the fairways, air movement to evaporate water is imperative to the survival of the turf grass during this heat. Water management must be monitored very closely! Putting out more water thinking this will help cool the grass and provide moisture so the grass can “have a drink” is a sure road to disaster. Over watering will kill grass MUCH faster than under watering in the hot humid days we are experiencing.
We are also venting greens, helping get life-giving oxygen down to the root system and
helping destructive gases such as carbon dioxide and methane escape the soil.
This is done with solid needle tines on our aerifier.
These solid ¼ inch diameter tines perform the venting process.
Once we have completed the venting, we roll to smooth
the surface with a speed roller.
This is the putting surface after rolling, most golfers don’t even know we have put holes in the green.
Making sure our fertilizer and fungicide programs are in place occurred months ago in what we call
“pre-stress conditioning”. The final thing we can do is to reduce the stress and allow the plant to survive the heat is to eliminate all cultural practices and raise the height of cut on the greens. This allows more leaf blade to perform photosynthesis.  
This also means slower greens compared to what we are used to. But consistency is always what we strive for, so for the next while greens will be noticeably slower; however will remain true for a nice ball roll. A few minutes on the putting green before your round and you will have them gauged properly.  
Our new mantra here at Whitevale: BETTER A LITTLE SLOW….THAN DEAD!
Staff are also feeling the heat. We remind staff every morning to continually drink water, and take occasional breaks in the shade or air conditioning. We  understand that they will not be as productive as during more comfortable temperatures. This approach also prevents heat stroke and missed days due to illness. All staff are told to take breaks as often as they feel they need to. An air conditioner in the lunch room gives them a place to bring their core temperature down while on break. We also tell them if they feel it’s too much to continue working they are permitted to go home for the rest of the day. Some overly dedicated staff have also been sent home early because we are concerned about the possibility of them getting sun stroke. The skeleton staff that is left visits green site after green site monitoring moisture levels and applying water as necessary.
If all else fails to help keep us cool and calm during the extreme heat alert...............

maybe this picture of what the course will look like in 6 or 7 months will help.  Stay cool my friends!

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