Monday, August 22, 2011

Think dimmer switch, not light switch.

After a long and very difficult stretch of weather during most of July and the first part of August, many of the stressed areas on the golf course have begun to heal. When we come to the end of stretches like this (not that we have had one this severe before) it must be understood that we cannot, or will not, rush right back into our normal maintenance practices. Currently, we continue to mow at a slightly higher height of cut on the greens, but a rolling schedule is slowly being introduced since the density on the greens is improving.

The damage that occurred happened quite quickly, but it will take awhile to reach full recovery.  The best analogy I could come up with is a light switch.  We can't just flip a switch and be back to normal.  We have to slowly ramp back up (like a dimmer switch) until we reach normal conditioning. If we rush into recovery, we run a very high risk of taking a step backwards.  Obviously, this is not something we want to see happen.

Cutting Bentgrass sod from our nursery for use on the golf course
After the previous paragraphs, this next statement will probably sound a little hypocritical: I am not very patient when it comes to recovery. With that being said, a number of the larger areas in the fairways that were damaged from the Pythium Blight (see previous posts) are being repaired with sod, as opposed to waiting for seed to germinate.
Installing Bentgrass sod from the nursery on #18 fairway

When recovering from a summer like we have had, the importance of a good nursery is invaluable.  The Bentgrass that is grown on the fairway nursery (see picture) is the same type that is found on our fairways.  Because of this, when it is installed on the golf course, it is a near perfect match and should blend in immediately. We currently have two greens nurseries (established from plugs of the greens on the course), two Bluegrass nurseries and a very large Bentgrass tee/fairway nursery.  Each one of these nurseries is maintained like their corresponding areas on the golf course so that if the need arises, it can be used and have an immediate impact.

On the disease front, we continue to struggle with the disease Summer Patch (Magnaporthe poae). This is not a new occurrence and we have battled with it before. Luckily, it is not as widespread as it was a year ago. Fertility on the greens has been increased and multiple fungicide applications have been made to help with recovery.
An up close look at the hyphae from the Summer Patch pathogen on a root sample taken from one of our greens.

An area on #14 green that was affected by Summer Patch, but is now recovering. Notice the Bentgrass moving into the voids where the Annual Bluegrass was prior to infection.

Lastly, as we continue our recovery, I would like to thank the membership for their support during a year that nobody would like to repeat.  Knowing that there was support behind the tough decisions that were made and that there was, and still is, support as we heal and repair damaged areas, made the season a little more tolerable. This is not the end of the golfing season, hopefully just the end of the stressful weather, so get out and enjoy your golf course!

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