Friday, January 15, 2016

Extreme WX, Catching Up, and Technicolor!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Friday, January 15th and much has changed since my last update.  First let me start by wishing each of you a Happy New Year!  I assume if you're reading this you are not one of the three Powerball lottery winners, so let's cut straight to the chase.  If you thought December was one of the most extreme weather months ever experienced in this region with above average temperatures (hooray) and above average rainfall (boo), you are not imagining things.  This weather graphic from December 30th clearly depicts the bizarre nature of things.
Courtesy of Brad Panovich, WCNC

In fact, December 2015 will go on record as the largest departure from average for any month in Charlotte history (weather records for the Queen City go back consecutively 137 years). 

Courtesy of Brad Panovich, WCNC

What a cruel twist of fate it was to have temperatures in the 70's F for nearly a week around the Christmas holiday and yet it rained so much the golf course was unplayable the majority of the time. In fact all the rain from November (10.43") and December (8.84") combined at Carolina Golf Club totaled 19.27 inches!  Think about that for a second, over 19 inches rain fell on the golf course in the final two months of 2015.

One impact that much rain had on course conditions (other than the obvious restricting golf cars to the paths) was to our sand bunkers.  Heavy rain after heavy rain would wash out the edges and compact the sand to near concrete firmness.  Attempts to maintain playable conditions quickly fell behind schedule as the unseasonable rains coincided with the departure of seasonal staff and full-time members taking holiday leave.  Things were definitely tricky to say the least.  I am happy to report we recently spent several days doing our best to check all bunkers for proper sand depth, redistributed sand when possible, and added new sand where necessary.  
I believe we may still add more sand to a handful of bunkers, but hopefully you will find the overall playing condition much improved than recently experienced.

Earlier I mentioned the above average temperatures last month.  Did you notice how the golf course greened up during the last week of December?  The warm conditions caused previously dormant bermudagrass (dormant from early season frost in late October) to begin the process of breaking dormancy and greening up.  Granted this was predominantly in the rough as our closely mowed areas had managed to avoid dormancy for the most part during the late fall.  But with the changing of the calendar a north wind began to blow across Carolina Golf Club on January 4th bringing cold, Canadian air to the region and freezing temperatures.  The natural green color our closely mowed areas had maintained slowly succumbed to winter last week.  
The photo in the tweet above from January 5th, as well as the photo below depicts just how green (natural color) the closely mowed turf remained deep into the off-season.  That natural color would slowly fade away last week after several mornings with temperatures in the low 20's F!

Bermudagrass Color Fading Away

In fact by this past Sunday we were once again "biscuit brown" as my good friend Tony Nysse (Golf Course Superintendent, Old Marsh Golf Club, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida) would say!  Look closely at the upper left photo captioned Jan 11.  Since last year's experiment with coloring fairways was well received (seems most of you prefer some color contrast in order to provide definition of the golf hole), we initiated applications Monday of a turf paint from Geoponics (Endurant TC) to green things back up quickly.
In fact, when you compare the last tweet above to the one posted in the beginning of the last Greenkeeper update CLICK HERE you get an even better sense of the impact color and definition have on the perception of the golf hole.  I am hopeful this year's treatments will persist longer than last year, and our color will be even more enhanced once we make a follow-up treatment late next month.  The goal being to absorb some UV radiation and hopefully enhance the survival of the turf and natural green-up come spring!

That's all for now.  Here's hoping for a Panthers victory Sunday and a history lesson for those of you geeky like me wondering why WX is a common abbreviation for weather.  Seems it goes all the way back to the early 1800's and Samuel Morse.  CLICK HERE FOR HISTORY LESSON courtesy of Brad Panovich, WCNC.

See you on the course and Keep Pounding!

Matthew Wharton, CGCS