Tuesday, May 3, 2022

May Day!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper! Today is Tuesday, May 3rd, where does the time go? You might be looking at the title of this post and thinking it's a distress call, but not to worry, that is not the case. I had hoped to have this out on May 1 and was reminiscing about May Day festivities involving the Maypole and May Queen from elementary school days when I came up with the title.

But I do believe some of you may be concerned about some areas of the golf course lagging behind, and we will discuss those soon. I also want to update you on an improvement project recently completed and talk about some treatments we applied during our maintenance day yesterday. So let's get started.

We wrapped up April with 3.34 inches rainfall at CGC and an average high temperature of 74 degrees, which is downright pleasant. But unfortunately our average low temperature was 51 degrees, which is a far cry from the 60 plus degree temperatures most conducive for Bermudagrass growth.

April 2022

In other words, April was mostly cool and dry characterized by low humidity and strong, cool breezes. That is a recipe for great bentgrass, but not so much when trying to get other areas of the golf course negatively impacted this past winter involving high traffic and/or shade to fully grow in. 

Bermudagrass is known as a warm-season grass and thrives in warm, humid conditions. Yes, the grass will break dormancy and begin to grow even in our cool springs, but there is a difference from greening up versus lateral spread of the plant that fills in thin areas impacted by stresses such as high traffic or shade. This is why golf courses sprig Bermudagrass in the months of June and July, and is why sodded areas can take months to fully mature and have seams disappear from view.

This is the first winter injury we have endured since 2018 Click Here and it comes as no surprise given the fact our Bermudagrass broke dormancy in late December before reentering, breaking again in early March, only to experience a hard freeze on March 13. To be honest, after looking back at the injury endured four years ago, things this year seem mild. 

Yesterday we started the road to recovery as warm temperatures were present in the Queen City. We fertilized the areas needing extra assistance on Holes 1, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, and 15 and will continue to do so weekly until they fully grow-in. In the meantime you can help by simply avoid driving your golf car in these areas. 

In other news, last month we wrapped up an improvement project accessing the Back Range Tee. We removed the old asphalt path that wrapped completely behind the tee, relocated the access further to the right, and paved a new path that starts a little further down the hill from the original and terminates in a turning circle at the top of the hill, right of the tee. There is also a place for parking at the top of the turning circle. Our contractor for this work was John E. Jenkins, Inc. in Gastonia, the team that did our cart path improvements last summer. 

Removing the old path from behind the tee required us to regrade the slope and install new turf. We selected Celebration Bermudagrass for its greater shade tolerance over other Bermudagrass varieties and obtained the sod from Modern Turf, Inc. 

The areas where straw mat was used were seeded to our fine-fescue mixture utilized on the golf course, for fine-fescue is the most shade tolerant of all grass types. We still need to remove some severe overhanging limbs that are creating a winter shade issue but overall I believe those of you that like the privacy provided at the Back Range Tee will find this to be a big improvement. 

Side note: the old path removed was a remnant of the original cart path when the first green and second tee occupied that area prior to 2006.

And finally, just to recap some of what transpired during our maintenance day yesterday. I already covered the fertilizer treatment to thin areas. We made a gypsum application to all putting greens yesterday. Calcium Sulfate was applied to not only boost our soil Calcium levels but also displace the buildup of Sodium caused by the recent lack of natural rainfall (15 days since our last rain event) and reliance on irrigation water.

We also treated the greens with a wetting agent. This is a chemical compound that helps prevent and alleviate the formation of localized dry spot (LDS). LDS occurs when naturally occurring waxy deposits form on the soil particles creating hydrophobic conditions. The combination of the gypsum and wetting agent followed with heavy irrigation to move both products into the soil flushed the sodium below the root zone where it can no longer impact plant roots, and rehydrated the root zone eliminating any hydrophobic conditions.

Now we set our sights on the spring Member-Guest. Hard to believe it is just ten days away! The course should continue to get better each day so come out an enjoy it. And hopefully we will get a little rain before the week is out. Believe it or not, this current dry stretch is the longest so far of 2022.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG