One Plus One Equals Three

By R.A. (Bob) Brame, director, North Central Region
September 1, 2011

Golf course visits over the last few weeks have confirmed that this season’s harsh weather pattern has resulted in significant and widespread weakening of golf turf.  However, it actually goes back one step further. The 2011 season has been intensified by the challenges of the 2010 season.  Almost like one plus one equals three.   

The 2010 season resulted in significant weakening and loss of golf turf, especially cool-season rough. A prolonged dry fall prevented recovery efforts. The extended 2011 wet spring further compromised turf recovery efforts and weakened rooting into the summer. Summer high temperatures kicked in, which included nighttime temperatures that did not allow plants to recoup from daytime heating, and many sites experienced excessive rain. Add it all together and the result was an intensified turf weakening beyond what a single harsh season alone would generate. Until a fall-spring growth cycle accommodates the needed recovery and strengthening of cool-season turf the multiplying will continue. 

The quickest way to take out cool-season golf turf is the combination of hot temperatures and wet conditions. A saturated root zone compromises the plant’s ability to cool itself during daytime heating and, as a result, wilt sets in. Wet wilt is virtually impossible to mitigate. The key to preventing wet wilt is maximizing surface water runoff and the internal movement of water down into the root zone. This emphasizes the importance of drainage, topdressing, and aeration, but they must be done in advance of challenging weather.

There are a number of courses in the region that could not core aerate their greens this spring due to the extended wet weather. This played into some of the more intense turf loss that developed this summer. While there are never any guarantees with golf turf management, the maintenance program should always be structured to maximize quality during challenging weather patterns. When the worst happens there will at least be the assurance that all that could be done was, in fact, done. 

Maintenance over the next few weeks will directly impact turf quality next summer. While September and October can be very good months for playing golf, it is vitally important to both achieve recovery where recovery is needed and maximize overall turf quality. Missing the mark in the early to mid-fall means vulnerability is elevated next season.

Call or email anytime if questions arise about your program.  If you’d like a candid and comprehensive review of your maintenance program for 2012 let us know; we’re always available.

Source:  Bob Brame, or 859-356-3272


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