Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Ranking Summer, Turf Conditions and Bob Ross!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Tuesday, September 17th and hopefully today will be the last time we see the temperature reach 90 degrees for a while.  Shortly after last month's post (Aug 15) talked about being on the back side of Summer, seems no one told Summer and it just kept rolling along.  But before I jump straight into the weather recap, today's post will also touch on current course conditions, upcoming inputs, and I'll share with you a story I recently wrote for an industry publication.  So let's get going.

Weather: Meteorological Summer (June through August) ended back on August 31st and 2019 ranked as the 20th hottest on record overall.  Through the first three weeks of August we were on pace with last summer, which ranks 11th warmest overall.  The cooler temperatures we all enjoyed the final week of August impacted the final average as much as nine positions.
August was also a wet month with the golf course receiving 8.64 inches rainfall, including 5.05 inches between the 19th and 24th.  Prior to receiving a miniscule 0.05 inches rainfall this past Friday afternoon (September 13th), the 0.15 inches of light rain and drizzle back on August 24th was our last measurable rainfall.  Making those twenty days our second longest dry stretch this year.  The longest was twenty-six days from May 13th through June 7th.  

So the first half of September has been dry and it's been hot, with the temperature reaching at least 90 degrees on thirteen of the first sixteen days this month, and we're forecasted to reach 93 degrees again today.  We even set a record high of 98 degrees last Thursday (September 12th)!  

As of this past Sunday we were right on the heels of last year for the number of days the temperature has reached 90 degrees or above, and thanks to yesterdays warm temperatures and today's forecast we will be tied with last year at 74.  The immediate forecast looks welcoming with some cooler, seasonable temperatures the next couple days, but the long range outlook does show several more days forecasted to reach 90 degrees or above early next week. Stay tuned.

I don't know about you but I'm beginning to think the four seasons we all enjoyed as children no longer exist and have been replaced with two seasons: Summer and Not Summer.  I'm ready for Not Summer. ;)

Greens: Despite the prolonged summer-like conditions the putting greens have mostly performed above expectations this summer based on the feedback I've received.  This is due in large part to the increased rolling frequency in lieu of mowing during periods of extreme heat.  We did perform a needle tine venting on September third to promote gas exchange and a light topdressing on September ninth to aid smoothness and ball mark recovery.
This summer really highlighted the importance of aeration, airflow and surface drainage based on my overall observations and general assessment (eye test).  Perhaps you didn't notice, but the turfgrass canopy becomes thin when the soil becomes too hot and/or wet for bentgrass growth.  This thinning is especially evident in lower lying areas, usually exposing the spaces between the most recent aerification holes.  

We manage just a little under 124,600 square feet of creeping bentgrass.  That's just shy of three acres spread over twenty-two surfaces when you count the practice greens and nursery.  With fans only present on half the greens, I'd say we fared better than expected this season considering the total rainfall during June-August was 18.65 inches.  Yes, that is too wet for the needs of our putting green turf.  Also, despite the over abundance of moisture, you find much less evidence of thinning on greens that are more convex in shape (surface drainage) or where fans are present (airflow).  

Each green is unique with its own character and personality, requiring subtle differences in management from day to day.  Perhaps you don't see the same blemishes and scars from ball marks and summer heat that I do when the most important thing is how they putt, and they putt smooth and true.     

Fairways: The caveat to a wet summer is the bermudagrass fairways are in excellent condition.  Although bermudagrass is known for it's drought tolerance, it really thrives when soil moisture is readily available.  And if there is one nice thing about hot and dry conditions, it doesn't take too long after an extremely wet week like experienced in late August to quickly return to the preferred fairway conditions of firm and fast.  
No. 8
But despite the warmer than average temperatures of late, the turf is beginning to prepare for winter as growth has slowed.  As a result we are now able to back off our plant growth regulator applications and mowing frequency.  The next big item on our agenda is fall preemergent herbicide applicatons.  We started these yesterday and will continue throughout this week and next as we are treating wall-to-wall all bermudagrass playing surfaces (tees, fairways, and rough).  This application is made each year to prevent annual bluegrass and other unwanted winter annual weeds from invading our dormant playing surfaces.

Other: In other news I recently had the good fortune to write a story for Golf Course Industry magazine about caring for a Donald Ross designed golf course.  The story begins with an innocent comment made to me by a parent of a participant in the 2005 North Carolina Junior Boys Championship.  Hope you enjoy Curating a classic.

A big time shout out and hearty congratulations to Dr. Evan Long on winning the North Carolina Super Senior Amateur at Croasdaile Country Club in Durham last week.  
Winner Winner!
Evan fired rounds of 67, 68 for a 9 under par total of 135 to claim the title, well played! He becomes the second CGA Champion from Carolina Golf Club joining Stephen Woodard who claimed the Carolinas Mid Amateur back in April.  CLICK HERE for a full tourney recap of Evan's victory!  Players Club :)

And if you haven't been outside lately in the predawn hours or even twilight you've been missing out.  The sky above Carolina Golf Club has literally been alive with colors both in the early morning and late evening, as if the spirit of Bob Ross was painting happy accidents.  Here's a few of my favorite recent office views I think you'll enjoy.
Panthers Blue Uptown

Late Evening on the Banks

Early Morning Prep

Portrait of Perfection
And finally, it's hard to believe it's been nearly one year since we co-hosted the United States MidAm with Charlotte Country Club.  Brett Boner competed in this year's U.S. MidAm at, ironically another CGC, Colorado Golf Club in Parker, CO.  Commonground Golf Course in Aurora is the stroke play co-host.  Brett fired rounds of -1 at Commonground and +2 at Colorado GC in the stroke play portions and landed the No. 29 seed.  
Brett jumped out to an early 2 Up lead but his match went all 18 holes with his opponent from Pennfield, NY winning 1 Up.  I want to congratulate Brett on another outstanding performance in a USGA Championship and representing Carolina Golf Club every step of the way.  

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG