Thursday, August 15, 2019

Back Side of Summer!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Thursday, August 15th and summer is almost over.  Now I know what you're thinking, the first day of autumn isn't until September 23rd and the Panthers don't open the season at home against the Rams until September 8th.  Yes, but the days are now noticeably shorter and warm-season grasses have begun their preparations for the upcoming winter.  At the very least we can agree we are on the back side of summer as the first day of school is less than two weeks away (August 26th).

Weather:  The weather this summer continues to be very warm, muggy and wet.  As of yesterday we've had 50 days where the temperature has reached 90 degrees or above and 18 days where the temperature has equalled or exceed 95 degrees.  Important to note, the temperature only reached 95 plus nine times all last year, so we've doubled that in 2019!  As for rainfall, when the irrigation lake is full this time of year you know it hasn't been too dry around town.  YTD we have received 36.74 inches rainfall and our summer total (since June 1st) is 13.21 inches.
One other interesting tidbit about this summer I recently learned from Brad Panovich.  This summer is almost as warm as last, but the overall warmth this year has been driven by the daytime highs where as last summer's average daily temperatures were more driven by the elevated overnight lows.  I explained to Brad how elevated overnight lows are more problematic and stressful to cool-season grasses like our bentgrass than extreme daytime highs.  Weather geeks :)  

Greens:  We vented greens back on August 5th in response to the abundant rainfall.  Bentgrass and too much water are not a good mix during periods of elevated soil temperatures, and this process helped alleviate some of the stresses associated with soils too wet from excessive rain events.  
Before Cleanup
After a Blow and Roll
I can add water when needed much easier than I can take it away.  Despite the challenges faced this summer, overall our greens have managed to meet or exceed expectations based on the feedback I've received and I've been quite pleased with their performance as I watch balls react when striking the surface and putts roll out.  With fall around the corner firmer and faster than currently are not too far off.

Fairways:  We just completed our second topdressing this growing season.  Once again 300 tons of sand was applied to the 30 acres of tees, fairways and approaches.  Since 2015 we've applied nearly 4000 tons of sand and as a result the overall smoothness of the playing surfaces and our ability to obtain a tighter cut is much improved.  
Also, the fairways handle excessive rainfall events much better and we're not subject to lengthy periods of cart restrictions which leads to unhappy golfers.  Side Note: Considering the thickness of the rough I suggest placing the tee shot in the fairway as much as possible going forward.

Other:  Last time (click here) I referenced some new turf would be installed to improve overall course aesthetics.  The team made quick work of the 8,000 square feet of sod eliminating several unsightly areas damaged by high traffic.  I also referenced the oak tree between the 5th and 15th holes suffering from leaf scorch and as predicted, the tree has pushed out new leaves.  
New Leaves
During a recent site visit with architect Kris Spence we decided to expand the closely mowed surround left of No. 6 green and connect it to the Ross/Blue tee of No. 7.  We have started this process by scalping down the bermudagrass and topdressing heavily.  As the area begins to regrow we will mow it with our current approach/surround mowers at the same height of cut.  The process should take two to three weeks which means we should be good to go by Club Championship.  
One of our recent overnight thunderstorms damaged the pedestrian bridge spanning the creek on hole 11.  We removed the bridge, shored up the support and reinstalled.  The bridge now sits at a different angle than before but rests on solid rock and shouldn't pose anymore potential issues.
And for you nature lovers, I've spotted a fawn and its mother on several occasions for several weeks, but they're always difficult to photograph.  Yesterday morning while patrolling and checking the rain gauges I happened upon them in the middle of hole 8.  A little blurry but best I've managed so far.
Also, seems our resident herons (there are usually two) have given birth to a little one.  The images aren't the greatest as I wasn't able to get too close but I think it's the cutest thing.  Definitely have to keep our eyes out for more sightings.
Anyway, that's all for now.  Despite the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel we still have work to do, plus the extended weather outlook is calling for the entire second half of August to remain very warm and very humid.  But, our goal each day is to present the course to you in the best condition possible.  A tall order, but one this new team is getting better at each day.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG