I know this is a bit of a "cop-out" but this is an early sneak-peek at my July newsletter article. I spent enough time writing this article and it contains a good deal of information I get asked to write about. From the water project to divots to cart traffic, I tried to cover all of it as a "preamble" to summer heat and stress season. With the frustrations we battle over the summer I will try to address as many as I can in advance. Also I hope everyone will read my comments regarding worker safety in hand-watering season. As a reminder, there are a couple of useful links on the main blog page with information related to some of the topics below.
Cheers to you all!
“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs” -Henry Ford
July in the Grounds Department always brings a slight shift in priorities. Having completed several larger projects this spring including drainage, road building, and large tree removal, we now must focus on the proverbial “little things”. With a busy golf course, summer heat and humidity and the Marathon Classic looming, we can’t get distracted from our primary goal of producing the best day-to-day conditions we are capable of.
One of the aforementioned “little things” that you will start to see more of is the “in-play” watering of greens, tees and fairways. Some players get frustrated that water is applied to surfaces (especially putting) during their round. Unfortunately, the longest days of summer combined with heat and heavy member traffic often require a quick mid-day watering to help our greens survive the day. Members have asked why we don’t just “put on more water at night” and the answer is again the often lamented Poa annua. Poa is a short-rooted turf that doesn’t handle heat very well. During heat stress, roots contract and are often no more than 1-2 inches long on greens during the peak of summer. It doesn’t take long for those 1-2 inches to dry out in July which forces us to get out the hoses. You could put a million gallons on the grass at night and water the soil 10 feet deep, but it’s often just the top 2 inches that matter during the summer.
On fairways, tees and in the rough, we try to maintain a balance between firm conditions, available labor to hand water, and conserving our often limited water resources in the creek. This leads to extra daytime watering to keep from losing turf. We will do everything possible to limit interruption of play for watering purposes, but please be as courteous as possible to the workers out there. It only takes a couple of minutes to syringe a green and they will soon be out of your way. There were a couple of close calls last year with groups hitting into workers, and we don’t want anyone to get hurt. Thank you for your patience.
Speaking of water, our little water project is nicely on-track. The well was tested and deemed to be officially over 1000 gallons per minute which is triple the flow of our first well! This is more than we could have hoped for and has thrown a “positive” monkey wrench into our plans. We are finalizing some necessary adjustments to pump capacities, pipe sizing and some other boring stuff to accommodate the extra flow. These little adjustments are adding a little time, but we are still set to have this project mostly complete by this fall. By the end of July, we should have our permits in place and begin work on our new range house. Electrical work and plumbing should happen shortly after. When we get things moving, be sure to check my blog for pictures and updates as we proceed.
Finally, by popular demand, a few reminders about the things you can do as a member to help keep the course in shape during the heat of summer.
1. Cart Traffic – As the summer play increases, regular cart traffic creates a great deal of wear and tear especially around greens and tees. In the heat of summer, grass doesn’t grow or recover nearly as quick as in the spring. Make an effort to spread your traffic out and avoid driving where the turf is obviously discolored, weak, or dry. Also, keep you carts as far away from greens and tees as possible (at least 30’) while using the available cart paths. During wet periods, extra attention to roped-off areas and course signage will also help minimize damage.
2. Fix ball marks and replace your divots…properly! – Whenever possible, replace your divots and give them a firm stomping to achieve the best soil contact. Don’t forget to try to replace on the par-3 tees. If (and only if) the divot is shattered and unusable, fill the hole with sand and seed if available and smooth with your foot or club. With around 26,000 rounds of golf played here every year - assuming a generous average score of 85 (subtracting 35 putts/chips and 20 non-divot shots/drivers) that’s still almost 800,000 divots that could be taken on the golf course during the course of the season. With a little help from our members and guests, we can help them heal as quickly as possible.
3. Range tee usage - Our range tee is incredibly undersized for our quantity of play. In order to keep the grass tee usable during the summer, make your divot pattern on the tee as concentrated and efficient as possible. Many of the professionals have started using a “straight line” method starting forward and taking the next divot directly behind the first. This leaves a nice straight “trench” of divots and uses the least amount of turf. If they run out of room, they start another trench adjacent to the first, leaving a little turf between. This is easy to fill and heals much more quickly than a large, random assortment of divots.
4. Bug Spray – Bug spray will discolor and damage turf. Please apply on the cart path only!
Keeping the golf course healthy and playable through July is one of the biggest challenges we face each season. With a little help from you all, we will be more successful.