Lovely weather over the past week and a half has helped the course dry out and firm up. Turf is holding in well under traffic and heat but beginning to show a little stress.
While trying to maintain the course at its driest potential we rely on the irrigation system to help us catch back up with a base moisture and touch up any hot spots as needed. This is why you may see us in the morning or even afternoon running around with a hose or select head here and there. We try not to “syringe” turf, an application of light amounts of water used to help cool the surface, but rather add the water necessary for the plant to survive. Syringing greens and fairways is a large topic of debate among my colleagues and each side has a valid point. From my past experience, I have found that letting the grass adapt to the environmental conditions will help us in the long run.
A little bit of stress is a good thing. But, when can it go to far?
Simply answered, when we can’t apply the water necessary to keep the plants alive. Pump house and irrigation troubles plague our property.
Tuesday night we had a great green committee meeting where I reluctantly reported to the members that we have had very few irrigation issues year to date. I made that comment in fear of potential bad luck (I’m really not a superstitious person either!) and Wednesday night bad luck struck. Weather has been perfect for drying turf and throughout the day Wednesday we realized we would have to run the system again overnight to help us get to the potential rain chances Saturday. This irrigation cycle would have given us the ability to regain a base moisture overnight, stay firm through the day and touch up hot spots as needed.
Unfortunately for us, the system failed. One of our 3 pumps failed and the others were not able to keep up with the demand of the system causing everything to turn off to prevent any damage. Yesterday, myself, Joey and Zach spent time troubleshooting and cleaning the wet well pits to minimize chances of sucking up any river debris that could do more harm to the pump station. We suspect that silt or shale clogged the pump that went down. Next week we will have a company out to the course with a crane to pull our Jockey pump from the station and inspect/repair any damage. We hope to be back to full capacity very soon but in the meantime will be able to water with a bit less capacity.
The course will be bouncy! It will show some stress but it will recovery quickly. Drought stress is much easier to recover from than disease or excess water stress, some of the bigger issues we have faced in the past. The biggest concern across the course is the amount of Poa annua (annual bluegrass) we have. Poa is a very shallow rooted plant and not able to withstand the environmental stresses of central Ohio summers very well. We manage to encourage bentgrass growth, not Poa, because the bentgrass can withstand the stresses much better.
So what am I saying…? If some of the Poa does not bounce back immediately, that’s ok too! We want the bentgrass to encroach and take over these areas. This spring we started different growth regulator programs to encourage this exact movement. The summer heat will help the bent to out compete the poa and our water management techniques are also encouraging the same. In any thin areas, we plan to add seed so that we can have a more consistent stand of Bent.
In the meantime, enjoy the bounce and roll of our dry golf course! We have got this under control and will continue to battle through the dog days of summer.
I have decided to add a few pictures of what some of this stress may look like. Over the next few days you will likely notice some brown or purple tire tracks in fairways. This damage is similar to frost damage as the leaf blades were so dry when the carts travel across they actually break the plant cells and cause a browning of the turf. The active growing point of the plant is still alive and healthy, so it will push new leaf growth and we will ultimately mow the brown portions off in the next 1 or 2 mowings.
Thanks for following along. See you on the course soon!
-J.R. Lynn, GCS