Thursday, August 30, 2012

Summer's Intensity Yields

To begin, Yes this is long overdue! I suppose I could say it's been one of those very difficult summers where I had very little time to spend on my computer, and I would be entirely accurate. In fact I could say that I'm quite sure I spent less time in my office than in any summer ever in the past, and the various piles of magazines and product info. pamphlets stacked throughout my office, that I've yet to read, are a daily reminder! It was a summer where it was much easier to communicate using Twitter, where I could send a picture and a brief note daily or more often. Over 400 times to be exact and most related to course activities. So those that follow me or check in here in the Twitter section have kept up to date with course happenings this summer.

It was for sure a record setting year. One of the earliest starts to the season that I can remember, and of course we all know most of the story with 43 days of temperatures over 90 degrees (and counting) and a half dozen of which were over 100! This is certainly abnormal and well above the desirable range of our cool season turf species of creeping bentgrass, poa annua, bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass. And, if high temperature stress wasn't enough, a serious lack of rainfall added additional stress and required nearly constant monitoring and frequent (much more so than I've experienced in the past) syringing, to cool the turf and prevent permanent wilt and turf loss. Too many times I watched turf go from green, well hydrated, in the humid mornings, to purple, and early stages of wilt, in the dry, windy afternoons. Also, Murphy's Law was in effect as it seemed to happen even more often on Saturday's and Sunday's when the course was full of players making my syringing processes even more challenging and mentally stressful! We do try very hard, all the time, to provide firm play conditions, and regulating irrigation is common in this effort. As such, having to rapidly move about the course, syringing to prevent wilt and turf loss, is certainly not something new. This year, however, it seemed like we were chasing wilt nearly every weekend!

It was a nerve-racking year indeed but as we headed into the second week of August relief came in the form of both rain and cooler temperatures. And, although we've had a few more hot, humid days since earlier in Aug., the intensity is shorter with waning day length, lower overnight temperatures, and thus far occasional rainfall. We're now entering the optimum time for restoring turf health and density though a variety of cultural practices such as fertilization, aeration, topdressing, seeding, or sodding. We've already begun many of these practices and after Labor Day more such activities will intensify. Fortunately, we survived the summer quite well but some areas do need some expanded work, mostly rough areas, and right now we are beginning to address these areas (seeding / sodding) and will continue into the fall. I'll try to blog more often as we perform these various tasks and projects such as fairway expansion, green surround sod replacement where needed, test area bentgrass control and overseeding in rough areas, and likely a few other projects.   

Some Summer Recap photos and comments follow:
Saw this about 6 times this summer. 6 TOO MANY!

 The summer began with a little pond wall repair project at #12 tee! Old tiebacks gave way and wall collapsed into pond 

  After excavation of soil and lots of unexpected concrete blocks old steel was righted and cut off at water level


New steel channels being locked together and vibrated into soil


 Installing new and improved tiebacks

 Finished product. Today area grassed but heavy weed encroachment may require additional grassing work this fall

 While we were at it with excavator on site we pulled tilted outcrop stone from west side, added new support beams and gravel, then reset level

 Finished product on west side. Today fully grassed with quality fine fescue.

As work was undertaken on the pond wall repair, 4 forward tees were constructed and opened in early June

 
Several cart paths were renovated. Old fabric and loose brick chips was removed and replaced with new crushed red granite.

 
New path to No. 3 Forward Tee

 
Renovated path at Half Way House. New material stays in place much better and is less dusty than former crushed brick material.

 
New routing of path at #18 Tee, now runs through tall grass instead of directly in front of tee. No traffic in front of tee now eliminates worn unsightly area.

 
Finished product with repositioned tall rough and re-routed path

Right about this time, the 4th of July (and the 5th), temperatures exceed 100 degrees and from that time forward temperatures remained above normal for about six weeks. Moisture deficit was firmly in place by this time too, actually since much earlier in spring. 


Saw this sign in a business and thought, regarding the weather challenges this year, 'Isn't this the Truth'!
There was lots of it every morning!

 
This was a common sight this year and thankfully we have an outstanding irrigation system that allows us to keep conditions as dry and firm as possible, for playability sake, and yet provide "rescue" syringing and watering, in a rapid manner, to prevent serious turf damage and loss.

 
When we keep it dry, and the humidity suddenly drops, turf can purple showing signs of wilt.

 
If we don't get water on it quickly (such as on a Sat. afternoon when the course if full of players and we're desperately trying to syringe and cool off all fairways but we don't get to all areas in time), at the early wilt stage, cart traffic will crush plant cells, causing destruction and turf loss. Fortunately this was the only area this happened, at beginning of fairway on #17.

 
We battled plenty of disease this year as well, Summer Patch, Brown Patch, Dollar Spot, Fairy Ring and others...we saw them all at one point or another.

Fortunately, Pythium, one of the most rapid and destructive turf diseases (common in hot, wet, conditions) was kept well controlled through plant protectants (dry weather helped too) but still found it's way onto the range tee, an area that is watered frequently to germinate seed planted each night.


Speaking of wet, we did have a few wet moments this year...climbing into the water to attach lines to remove a cart that was driven into the pond at #12...



and a Jeep that found it's way into the ditch at #13 tee.

 
 Both vehicles...


Successfully extracted and both drivers, fortunately, uninjured...but likely to drive a bit safer in the future!

 We though we might have to employ our SCC Grounds Crew constructed SCC 'Kon Tiki' for above extractions, but it was ultimately used only for it's intended purpose, the Hampton's Party.

Jazz Band getting ready for their float trip.

Before crowd showed the ducks enjoyed a little evening music.

 The stress...and response (more hand watering) continued through approx. Aug. 9-10 when we received some quality rainfall (slow, steady) and temperatures began to fall to more reasonable levels.

 
With the summers intensity now behind us we're focusing on repairing a few areas...fortunately only a few! Through aeration, spiking, seeding, and /or sod patching where necessary.

A nice seed germination 'catch' on a worn, thin spot in the green expansion area on #13.

As I mentioned earlier, we are now in the period of repair, recovery, maintenance, and improvement on many turf areas through aeration, seeding, topdressing, core planting, sodding, and more. Essentially, it's planting time! I hope to blog a bit more frequently now that I have a bit more time to spend in front of the computer but I'd still much rather be out on the course tweeting tasks and improvement progress on a daily basis! Follow me on Twitter @scc1897 or check back here on the blog often and view my tweets in the Twitter section. Happy Labor Day to All! 


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