Is The Worst Over?

By Stanley J. Zontek, director, Mid-Atlantic Region
August 3, 2011

July soil temperatures from a course in Richmond, Virginia shows just how hot soil temperatures became along with the air temperatures.  With the elevated levels, the roots of cool-season grasses become less functional. 

It's official, July, 2011 was the hottest month for the number of days above 90 degrees F in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.  Seemingly everyone in the country is dealing with oppressive heat and humidity and it has taken a toll on golf course turf. 

The following update will pass on a few agronomic points that worked or didn’t work this summer (in no special order):

Location, Location, Location.  The worst damaged greens were generally located in areas of shade or pockets of poor air circulation.  Grass growing in the shade is always weaker than grass growing in full sunlight. 

With prolonged heat stress, weaker greens suffered.  The solution is simple, clear underbrush, selectively remove trees, or install a fan. 

Water Management.  Over-watered greens suffered more than carefully irrigated, hand watered greens.  At the risk of causing a controversy, it is difficult to lightly syringe a green with the perimeter irrigation system.  Better water control is achieved with hand watering/hand syringing. 

Most often this is a budget item, but when it is as hot as it has been, too much water is worse than too little water.  Grass recovers better from dry wilt than it will from wet wilt. 

Soil Moisture Meters.  These devices have proved to be an effective way to monitor soil moisture and to carefully irrigate greens.  They also have helped to train staff to know when and how much to hand water an area as well as when to skip an area and recheck it later as greens dry through the day.  While expensive, they are a good investment.  Bad grass is much more expensive.

Conservative Turfgrass Management.  While every golf course reacts differently in the heat, following a conservative putting green management program saved grass. 

 

  • Mowing and rolling programs, i.e., mow greens one day, roll the next, Consider skipping a day of mowing and rolling altogether to help reduce turf stress. 
  • Switching to solid rollers and slightly raising mowing heights helped the grass survive.  Did the greens putt a bit slower?  Yes, however the old agronomic adage is worth repeating, “slow grass is better than no grass.” 
  • Compressed spray schedules, spoonfeeding and light growth regulator applications all have worked well. 
  • Surface aeration and venting helped the turf. 

 

Disease problems would have been worse if we had a hot, humid and wet summer.

This summer, turfgrass management in many parts of the United States is an absolute challenge, and we still have more days of weather stress to get through.  Hopefully, some of these points will help everyone appreciate that maintenance work does not stop in the heat, but it changes to a much more careful management program. 

The golfers can help by understanding and expecting less in terms of green speed and many details of golf course manicuring, which have to be deferred with so much handwork needed to keep the greens alive. 

The Mid-Atlantic Region agronomists are part of your agronomic support team.  If you have a question or concern, give us a call or send an e-mail.  You can reach Stan Zontek (szontek@usga.org) and Darin Bevard (dbevard@usga.org) at 610/ 558-9066 or Keith Happ (khapp@usga.org) at 412/ 341-5922.

 

Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
Chevron
   

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image
Rolex
   

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.



Rolex image
IBM
   

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website, www.usopen.com, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit http://www.usopen.com/IBM

AmEx image
Lexus
   

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit http://www.lexus.com/

AmEx image
American Express
   

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit www.americanexpress.com/entertainment


AmEx image