July ends in a few hours. Strong or weak month at your golf course?After seeing several responses from all across the country come in describing a myriad of conditions (cool and dry, hot and dry, very busy, etc., etc.) I decided to respond with the following:
— GOLF COURSE INDUSTRY (@GCImagazine) July 31, 2014
@GCImagazine roller coaster temps and wet, over 7 inches rain! Bermuda has never looked better, excellent definition. Bent needs to dry out!This has been one of the all time strangest summers I can ever remember. It is not uncommon to have a significant dip in the jet stream bring cool, comfortable, less humid air at least once during a typical hot, humid Carolina summer, but we had three such occurrences in the last month! July really was a roller coaster as temperatures would climb into the 90's with humid conditions, only to receive heavy rain ahead of a cold front that would bring almost fall like conditions. Each effect was always short lived too, making for somewhat confusing growing conditions for the greens. Of course, the bermudagrass has been soaking up the rain like a sponge and the course seems to get greener by the minute. The overall contrast and definition between tees, fairways, and rough has never been better since our restoration, but believe me when I tell you I am not loving all this rain.
— Matthew Wharton (@CGCGreenkeeper) August 1, 2014
Earlier this week I met with Stephen Woodard, Greens Committee Chairman to discuss the golf course, conditions, topics for our next committee meeting, and etc. I told Stephen when your irrigation lake is full on the last day of July it can only mean summer has been too wet thus far. Now, why would I complain about such an abundance of rainfall? Saturated soil conditions can lead to diseases and poor quality turf due to the lack of oxygen available in the root zone. Turf growing in soil with more air occupying the pore space is healthier than turf growing in water-logged root zones. When conditions are dry I can apply water directly where necessary and in precise amounts needed. When it rains like this there is nothing I can do. Of course, I only manage the golf course and Mother Nature provides the conditions in which I must manage. It's what I do and I love it no matter what!
Next week we will be installing sod on some miscellaneous areas around the golf course. Near the cart path edge here, under a tree there, etc. These minor repairs will "button" everything up nice and tight as we enter our final month of summer and the golf course readies itself for fall. Speaking of the golf course readying itself, have you noticed it's that time of year again. I'm talking about the rough. Every year around the time of the conclusion of The Open Championship, the rough begins to show its teeth and swallow golf balls. This is because the plant knows the days are getting shorter and it's an environmental response to prepare itself for the coming winter. Like a squirrel storing nuts, the bermudagrass is trying to make and store carbohydrates. Every leaf blade is reaching for the sun to maximize photosynthesis, and golf balls that used to sit up on top of the rough are now starting to drop down into the canopy, making for difficult recovery shots and the occasional flyer. I can tell you we are actually mowing the rough shorter this year than years past, and I am hopeful this height of cut adjustment will ease the difficulty typically encountered this time each year.
Finally, some of you may or may not be aware of a current fad circulating cyber-space called the Ice Bucket Challenge. Originally started to raise money and awareness for ALS, the challenge has morphed into other charities and has been making its way across different genres. About two months ago the challenge swept through the PGA Tour as golfers such as Rickie Fowler, Keegan Bradley, Ian Poulter, and Lee Westwood had fun calling each other out. A couple weeks later the challenge made its way through the ranks of LPGA players. Looks like the challenge finally found its way into the superintendent ranks when Rhett Evans, CEO of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America issued a challenge to GCSAA members. Earlier this week I was called out by one of my peers here in the Carolinas, Chuck Connolly from Greenville C.C. Anyway, you can CLICK HERE to view Tim Kreger, Executive Director of the Carolinas GCSA accept the challenge from Rhett Evans and get things started in the Carolinas. HERE is the link to Chuck's participation and his issue of the challenge to yours truly. My staff and I put our heads together and figured if I was going to do this, we needed to things a little better than most, so CLICK HERE to see how we did things bigger and wetter! For more information on the Environmental Institute For Golf and Rounds 4 Research CLICK HERE.
See you on the course,
Matthew Wharton, CGCS