Maintenance Update

The hot and dry summer we experienced this year certainly made it challenging to present quality turf throughout all areas of the golf course.  For the most part, our tees, greens and fairways made it through in fairly good shape.  Unfortunately, many of the areas surrounding our primary surfaces became so dry that turf thinning and some turf loss was experienced.  

This isn't the first time that some areas of our course have become quite dry despite a great deal of effort on our part.  In most cases, dry rough is completely acceptable and we know that these areas will bounce back quite quickly with the eventual fall and winter rains.  However, we seem to struggle with the sand capped surrounds of our putting surfaces and their drainage during the winter months.  Chipping from hard pan areas with little turf canopy is quite difficult, so finding a solution to this condition has been our primary goal for several years now.  

Because of the challenges these areas present, we developed a careful plan to implement this summer with aeration, additional nutrition and supplemental hand watering to improve the quality of the turf in these areas.  Despite this additional work, turf loss continued to occur on several green surrounds forcing us to dive deeper into finding a long term solution to these challenges.

The first step in trouble shooting these dry areas throughout the summer was to get a drone to take aerial photos of the golf course.  These aerial photos have proven to be very telling and will serve as a reference for future and current irrigation plans to improve our dried out areas.  It's important to point out that our efforts to maintain turf in these challenging areas often leads to areas in the vicinity being overwatered and soft.  When watering the putting surfaces nightly, the sprinkler patterns often hit surrounding trees that create soft spots directly beneath the trees.  This delicate balancing act of too-wet, too-dry can become very challenging when rainfall is nonexistent for 3 months each summer.  

Several weeks ago following a review of our most recent drone phots, it became apparent as to the source of our dry areas.  In most cases, the areas with dormant and extremely dry conditions are located in areas that are very close to trees.  A test trench with our 'Ditch Witch' trencher in the area left of 14 green showed the source of all our struggles.  Just adjacent to this putting surface, a massive network of fibrous roots was extending right to the green in the top 5-6 inches of the soil profile!  

Our renovation of the area to the left of 14 is complete and the area should be better than ever in a few weeks time.  Although this work was quite extensive, a more formal plan will be developed over the next 6 months to resolve the issue that tree growth and roots have caused in our irrigation systems.  Some of our dry areas will require some additional irrigation coverage with the installation of additional sprinkler heads.  In many cases, a non disruptive root pruning will become part of our annual programs to prevent this from happening again.  We expect the positive effects of this program to produce immediate results and look forward to vastly improved turf conditions in areas we have struggled with for years.

 

Dean Piller

Superintendent