The Summer Heat Is On!

By Stanley J. Zontek, director, Mid-Atlantic region
July 3, 2012

Preserving roots through the summer stress period is a high priority for any turf manager. Overwatering damages roots. Aeration/surface venting generates new roots. Raising mowing heights also contributes to improved rooting and better turfgrass density.

The second heat wave for the summer of 2012 is upon us. Almost no one has been unaffected by the heat, the humidity and the resulting thunderstorms which have occurred. Nearly the entire continental United States is being affected by hot weather; record breaking heat in fact. 

First, kudos need to be extended to the staff at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland for being able to complete this weekend’s AT&T National Tournament. It took a herculean effort to return the course to play and then to provide a great venue for the galleries that came in spite of many of their own issues with power outages, fallen trees, broken limbs and general disruption to one’s life. The distraction was good and the golf course was at its best. 

Much has been written about the need for common sense turfgrass management when it’s hot. This update is to remind everyone that the basics of agronomy, plant health, and maintenance never change. Raise mowing heights, mow less, do not apply large amounts of nitrogen, compress your fungicide spray rotations and increase fungicide rates.

Do not be concerned about short-term niceties like how fast the greens are rolling on a given day. That will come with time and more reasonable weather.

Sometimes it is what you do not do that is as important as what you actually do. Do not over stress the grass with double cutting, grooming or abrasive topdressings. Hand water, back-off general maintenance and focus on keeping the turf healthy and alive. Surface aerate, roll versus mow and generally follow a defensive, conservative maintenance and management program when turfgrass is under oppressive heat. It’s a time to be careful. There is always a time to become more aggressive but that takes cooler weather. 

No one knows what the future holds but following a conservative and careful putting green and golf course maintenance and management program now can help maintain better turf throughout the rest of the summer. 

There are no new flashy agronomic bright ideas mentioned here. It’s all common sense maintenance and management practices. Managing stress early in the season should help prolong the health of the grass for more of the summer. Be careful…it’s hot out there! 

PS - Remember to use that sunscreen and reapply every two hours. 

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 email. You can reach Stan Zontek ( and Darin Bevard ( at 610/ 558-9066 or Keith Happ ( 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,, 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

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

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

AmEx image