Frequent and timely hand watering and syringing can make a difference between turf surviving and dying during stressful summer heat. As a result, continually checking on soil moisture and when and where hoses are needed is one challenge superintendents face. With some areas of the region receiving 25+ inches of rain in the last few weeks it is safe to say there was a lull in hose work needed on the golf courses.
Unfortunately, the excessive amounts of rain caused massive flooding on coastal areas and courses near rivers; both types causing severe turf loss. Budget constraints, limited staff, and potential loss of golf outing revenue are some of added challenges of the flooding. Thankfully, drier weather appears to be on the horizon, which will allow for cleanup of silt-covered turf and debris from fallen branches and trees followed by cultivation and overseeding efforts to stimulate recovery.
Many forms of cultivation can be used to promote necessary seed-to-soil contact for successful seed germination. Shallow core aeration followed by verticutting/slit seeding in multiple directions has been a successful method used at many courses when performing fairway regrassing, and this should work nicely for flood-damaged areas. If salt water intrusion occurred, applying gypsum and heavy irrigation inputs to leach sodium is recommended. A grow-in fertility program, light and frequent irrigation, lightweight mowing with solid front rollers, and restricted traffic are general strategies to promote recovery of seedling turf. A local rule offering a free lift and place from the recovering fairways may be a good solution to consider until these areas recover.
The wet weather also has caused many courses to postpone necessary thatch removal practices such as core aeration and aggressive verticutting. Postponing these practices may have been necessary due to the rain or saturated soils, but skipping them altogether is not recommended given the detriments of excessive thatch on golf turf playability and reliability. Heavy rain in April and May caused many facilities to skip spring core aeration, and repeating this will compromise the integrity of the turf and golf conditions, and really only serves to appease golfers.
USGA agronomists can provide insightful and invaluable information involving all areas of golf course maintenance, which will help maximize turf health, playability, and efficiency. Contact Dave Oatis, director, firstname.lastname@example.org; Adam Moeller, agronomist, email@example.com; or Jim Skorulski, senior agronomist, firstname.lastname@example.org for a Turf Advisory Service visit this season.