Mild Summer Weather Equals Better Playability August 5, 2014 By Darin S. Bevard

Playability and turfgrass health have been better than normal during the height of the summer stress season. The mild summer weather in much of the mid-Atlantic region has been a welcome change from the weather extremes of the past few growing seasons.

During a recent Course Consulting Service visit at a golf course in the Philadelphia area, course officials praised their maintenance staff for how much “better” playability and overall conditions were on the golf course. Equally, they indicated that their staff had done “better” maintaining the grass. I was quick to compare the hot, wet weather of July 2013 with the cooler July weather of this year. Timely rains have also been helpful. Perhaps the staff did their best work keeping the grass alive last July. The response was, “But the golf course has played so much better this year than last.” Playability probably is better, but it is not because the maintenance staff has worked harder this year than last. While maintenance programs are always adjusted, the mild summer weather has been better for conditioning cool-season grass and adequate for warm-season turf growth as well.

With no major agronomic problems trending in the region aside from persistent annual bluegrass weevil pressure in some areas, this is a good time to discuss the impact that weather has on turfgrass health. With overall cooler temperatures this summer and timely rainfall, the grass is healthier than would normally be expected in early August on many golf courses. When the grass is healthy, maintenance practices can be more aggressive and can focus on playability instead of primarily focused on turfgrass survival. Mother Nature has more impact on turfgrass management than golfers and course officials want to give her credit for. In years when the weather is bad and playability and/or turfgrass health suffers, the weather is often viewed as an excuse rather than a reason for problems.

The bottom line is that weather conditions dramatically impact daily golf course maintenance decisions. Weather is not the only reason that problems occur, but it is almost always a major factor. The mild summer has been a nice change from the weather extremes of the last three growing seasons. After the winter damage that occurred to bermudagrass in the southern part of the mid-Atlantic region and Poa annua in the northern tier last winter, I guess we deserve a break. For superintendents, the mild weather does not make their job easy as some have suggested. However, it offers the opportunity to provide better playing conditions than normal at this point in the growing season. Hopefully the golfers get out and enjoy their courses and the weather.

Source: Darin Bevard (

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service

Contact the Green Section Staff