Long Summer Days Equate To Intense Irrigation Management

By Keith Happ, senior agronomist, Mid-Atlantic Region
July 18, 2011

(L) Skilled maintenance personnel scout the course daily during the ‘Dog Days of Summer,’ looking for hot spots and signs of wilt.   This is classic foot printing;  the turf is under wilt stress and collapses under traffic stress.  Water management is vital for this turf to survive the day.   (R) There is a distinct difference between irrigating the turf and cooling it with syringing techniques.  During the heart of the summer, sound water management is essential to turf survival.  Syringing to cool the turf can take only a minute or two, and depending on the weather, it may have to be repeated several times during the day. 



They are referred to as the dog days of summer and the summer is well underway.   The Mid-Atlantic Region is in the grip of high temperatures, accompanied by fluctuations in humidity.   When this combination of weather factors occurs, irrigation management becomes the number one priority.  Many superintendents and their crews are putting in long hours by cooling the turf and judiciously applying water only where and when it’s necessary. 

This month we have experienced radical and rapid changes in the humidity levels, and these changes are stressful on fine golf course turf.  While low humidity is a comfortable condition for golfers, it is much more stressful on turfgrass.  The turf cools itself by releasing water (transpiration) to the atmosphere.   During high temperatures and low humidity this cooling process uses a great deal of stored energy from the roots.  Conversely, high humidity conditions place stress on both the golfers and the turf.  When the air is saturated with moisture, the turf is not under the same level of stress.  Simply put, the plant is not losing as much water to the atmosphere, and its cooling process is not as efficient.   

There is a fine line between irrigating and cooling the turf; in other words, beneficially cooling the turf or over-watering the grass can be damaging.  During high temperature conditions it is essential not to over-wet the soil for fear of damaging the turf and its roots.  Water is an excellent conductor of heat.   As a golfer, when you see the maintenance crew checking a putting surface or a hot spot in a fairway, allow them time to complete the inspection so they can maintain the playing quality of the golf course.   A few moments for preventive care means a lot at this time of year. 

There have been concerns about bacterial wilt damage on bentgrass.  Samples have been submitted to laboratories and confirmation has been received.  Unfortunately, labeled controls are not available for this problem.  If you suspect this is a problem at your course, send a sample to a qualified laboratory for definitive diagnosis.  If you have any questions, contact the Mid-Atlantic regional offices.

Mid-summer is the time to examine the mowing equipment and sharpen all cutting components if necessary.  Bedknives should be dressed, and reel blades reels may need to be sharpened.  Many operations have spin-grinding equipment that allows for very efficient and rapid sharpening of all reel mowers.  Using sharp mowers is an important Best Management Practice (BMP), so don’t let dull mowers lead to weak, disease-prone turf.  Poor cut quality can cause shredded leaf tips, which can lead to complaints about playing quality.  Take the time to sharpen and adjust the tools of the trade.  The effort will be well worth the while.

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


Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image

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 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 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 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