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Surviving The Dog Days Of Summer August 3, 2018 By Jim Skorulski, agronomist, Northeast Region

Milkweed and other flowers in full summer bloom at Old Oaks Country Club in Purchase, New York, are a pleasant reminder of the unique workplace we enjoy.

The humidity and high temperatures have broken for a few days. The break will be short-lived, but it is a welcomed relief for tired staffs and tired grass. Much of the region received badly needed rain, some areas even received too much. Meanwhile, many coastal areas remain abnormally dry.

As is often the case, July has been difficult. Not surprising, annual bluegrass is beginning to show signs of stress from summer heat and high humidity. Disease pressure is high and there have been reports of anthracnose, dollar spot, brown patch and Pythium. Symptoms of bacterial wilt and injury from parasitic nematodes have also been observed. Cool-season grasses – especially annual bluegrass – are nearing their weakest point of the season where they cannot produce enough energy to keep up with the increased respiration rates being driven by high air and soil temperatures. This high-octane respiration drives shoot growth that can leave playing surfaces puffy and dense. Plants fill the energy deficit by tapping into reserves, weakening their condition and reducing their stress tolerance. Turf plants growing in suboptimal environments are at an even greater disadvantage due to their already weakened condition. Now is not the time to push weak grass or to experiment with new products or practices.

Staffs too begin to tire by mid-summer. A combination of early mornings, long days and working in the heat is beginning to take its toll. As maintaining focus becomes more difficult mistakes become more common. Managers and staff must bear down and prioritize maintenance practices to survive until cool temperatures return.

Fortunately, there are some options to beat back the midsummer doldrums. A day, or better yet an entire weekend, away from the golf course can be extremely therapeutic for staff members and the boss. Organizing simple staff activities such as cookout lunches, afterhours golf, or other group outings and recreation can energize the staff and help keep the job fun. As difficult as it may be, attend a research field day or chapter meeting. Attending these events for even part of a day and networking with others who are experiencing similar challenges can be good medicine in the dog days of summer. Also, take time to appreciate summer’s beauty and all your team’s hard work. Slow down and take a little time to enjoy the natural beauty of the golf course, native areas in bloom and the workings of nature in your unique workplace.


Northeast Region Agronomists:

David A. Oatis, regional director –

Adam Moeller, director, Green Section Education –

James E. Skorulski, agronomist –

Elliott Dowling, agronomist –

Paul Jacobs, agronomist –

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service 

Contact the Green Section Staff

More Northeast Regional Updates