Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Lose a Battle to Win the War
In this case, the ‘battle’ is playability, i.e. putting green smoothness and speed, and the ‘war’ is turfgrass survival. With the summer’s weather challenges, some courses have already lost major portions of rough and fairways to natural physiological decline or flooding. Reports of greens being lost are on the rise and these facilities are now faced with re-grassing this fall. For others, the fight continues.
Since my last USGA Regional Update in early July titled "Feeling the Heat", extreme conditions have only intensified with even more heat and rain. The perfect storm for turfgrass decline continues and on a devastating path. Areas in the upper Mid-Continent Region are still in the midst of record-breaking rainfall totals and heat waves. For most of the region, 10- and 30-day forecasts are not encouraging. Fortunately, it is August meaning day lengths are getting shorter and September is around the corner. We just have to get there.
Given the harshness of environmental extremes across several geographic regions this summer, some great resources have been generated and can be found below:
- Many recent USGA Regional Updates discuss summer struggles and outline excellent recommendations for survival. (http://www.usga.org/Content.aspx?id=26223)
- USGA Senior Agronomist Chris Hartwiger developed a webcast, “Bad to Worse for Creeping Bentgrass - Seven Steps to Help Your Greens Make it Through the Summer” that includes seven survival recommendations: 1) proper and continuous use of fans (i.e. 24 hours/day), 2) venting the greens when possible via non-disruptive aeration, 3) raising the mowing height and using solid front rollers, 4) mowing less frequently and rolling instead, 5) increasing the use of fungicides, 6) taking irrigation management to the highest level possible, and 7) reducing traffic on the greens. http://webcast.usga.org/usga/Bentgrass_greens_survival_Hartwiger.wmv
- Virtually every disease known, and even a few new ones, have been prevalent on cool-season turfgrasses under duress this summer. For instance, there have been a few titles on turf diseases over the last two weeks, and a daily blog by five contributing university turfgrass pathologists nationwide states, “Dead Bentgrass Makes Headlines”, “Heat + Rain = Dead Grass”, “No Wind = Dead Grass”, “Heat Wreaking Havoc on Courses Nationwide”, “Relentless Heat and Humidity” and “Stress, Stress, Stress.” http://turfdiseases.blogspot.com
This has been a trying summer for all. Cool-season turfgrass are in a fragile state and superintendents and their staffs are feeling the effects of long hours and touch-and-go circumstances. Now is the time to rely on the wisdom of your superintendent and support the recommendations from professionals. Slower greens are still quite playable and enjoyable. If nothing else, it’s an opportunity to enjoy hole locations in areas of the green that otherwise are not available when greens are fast. Respect course closure and cart restriction policies when saturated course conditions exist.
Know what is at stake and adjust your expectations of playability now in order to fight another day. Your fall golf season may just depend on it.
If you would like more information about a Turf Advisory Service visit, do not hesitate to contact either of the Mid-Continent regional offices: Ty McClellan at firstname.lastname@example.org or (630) 340-5853 or Bud White at email@example.com or (972) 662-1138.