Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Defense Wins Championships

The popular motto “defense wins championships” rings true, not just in sports, but in turf management as well. It’s not necessarily what we do when the heat and humidity arrives, but more about what we don’t do.  For example, a majority of the month of August brought drier and cooler weather that allowed us to play offense and push the turf to provide some great summer playing conditions. We have just finished a stretch of Invitationals, various Club Championships, the Boys and Girls Club Ryder Cup event and a PGA Section event where, in my opinion, the club and golf course were at peak conditioning.

Now, as we work through our second hot stretch of the summer, it is time to play defense. The height of cut was raised slightly to increase the amount of leaf tissue on the plant giving it a better opportunity to generate the necessary energy to survive, mowing days are occasionally skipped and replaced by rolling to reduce stress and irrigation is kept to a minimum. The need to minimize the amount of irrigation may sound counter-intuitive because of the heat, but we need to reduce the possibility of various types of diseases from developing.  Moist soils, thatch and leaf blades make an ideal environment for pathogens to grow and create harm to the turf. By reducing the irrigation, we reduce the moisture available to the pathogen. On days when we don’t mow fairways the dew is mechanically removed by two carts dragging a long hose across the playing surface to knock the dew off of the leaf blades allowing them to dry more quickly. In periods like this, every little trick helps.

Removing dew from the fairways
The two uncontrollable wildcards are the humidity and rainfall. That is where our plant protectants (fungicides) come in. My general philosophy is not to apply these products unless it is absolutely necessary or if conditions warrant the need for them to be applied. Obviously, during periods like this, there is certainly a need to make applications to protect the turf and allow it remain as healthy as it can. Because of this, our sprayers have been quite busy over the course of the last week or so. 

Extremely high canopy temperatures. Time for Defense!
By combining all of these practices, it allows us to pick up where we left off as soon as the weather becomes a little more seasonable again.  Rest assured, the conditioning of the golf course remains our top priority, that’s why we take these necessary steps.  I was quite pleased the other day when some of you actually approached me and were inquiring as to whether we would be going back on defense during this period of hot/humid weather. I wasn't just pleased because interest was being shown in what we do, but more so with the fact that my previous communications through newsletters and the blog are being read and understood. For that I say “Thank You”! 

Sprayers ready to go when necessary
Throughout the year, particularly during stressful times of the season, I enjoy reading fellow superintendent's blogs. One of my favorites is the one my friend Chris Tritabaugh at Hazeltine National (hosting the 2016 Ryder Cup) has put together and updates quite frequently. He just posted a similar message to his membership and I felt you would enjoy reading it. It can be found by clicking here. It's well worth the read and I'm sure you will see a common theme between our two posts. Enjoy!

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