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Back To The Basics August 19, 2016 By Paul Jacobs, agronomist, Northeast Region and Adam Moeller, director, Green Section Education

Extreme heat and high canopy temperatures forced superintendents to adjust maintenance practices and emphasize water management.

Golfers and superintendents sometimes need a reminder that putting green health, smoothness and consistency are far more important than green speed—the recent heat wave served as that reminder for many facilities. However, superintendents at many courses maintained healthy putting greens by carefully managing water, reducing mowing frequency, raising the height of cut or alternating between mowing and rolling. As a result, green speeds may have decreased, but keeping turf healthy always is the priority. 

The extreme heat and humidity has made it difficult to prevent turf stress, thinning and disease at many golf courses in the Northeast Region, especially those that have experienced frequent rain events. Turf decline during summer is frustrating, but it is important to remain calm and keep the long-term health of the course in mind during difficult stretches of weather. Most courses that adopted defensive maintenance practices during the recent heat wave are finishing summer with great playing conditions and are ready for core aeration in the coming weeks. If hot weather persists, it is important to be diligent with water management to expedite the recovery process and avoid turf damage.

Periods of turf stress can lead to poor agronomic decisions. After all, nothing is sometimes the best thing to do. Superintendents create detailed plant-protectant, fertility, growth-regulator and wetting-agent programs. Inevitably, those plans will change because plant needs change along with the weather. However, making too many drastic changes can have unintended effects on turf performance with little understanding of what caused turf damage. Reducing the variables in turf management provides a better understanding of what impacts turf health and performance. If major agronomic changes were made this year, now is a great time to go back to basics and make sure irrigation, fertility, growth-regulator and plant-protectant programs are meeting plant needs and providing desirable playing surfaces.


Northeast Region Agronomists:

David A. Oatis, regional director –

Adam Moeller, director, Green Section Education –

James E. Skorulski, agronomist –

Elliott Dowling, agronomist –

Addison Barden, agronomist –

Paul Jacobs, agronomist –

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service 

Contact the Green Section Staff

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