Tuesday, August 14, 2012

USGA Visit

As you have read in my last post our greens are not in good shape.  I explained the reasons for the decline in the last post also.  I recently had an Regional Agronomist, Chris Hartwiger, from the USGA visit our course to help us through this issue.  I received his findings over the weekend.  Here They Are.

Opening Statement
On behalf of the USGA Green Section, it was a pleasure to return to Indian Hills to discuss the golf course maintenance program.  This was my first visit to the course in many years and I was interested to be brought up to date on what is happening at the course.  The major focus of this visit was the current Condition of the putting greens as well as future options.

This USGA Turf Advisory Service visit consisted of a tour of the golf course in which numerous topics were discussed.  The main topics of discussion will be reviewed in the report.  Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments after viewing this report.

Putting Greens
  1. During the month of July, the putting greens experienced a rapid loss of bentgrass due to summer bentgrass decline.  The same summer bentgrass decline has occurred at numerous golf courses in mid Tennessee and northern Alabama over the last three weeks.  The catalyst for the decline was heavy and frequent rainfall accompanied by 90 degree plus temperatures.  At Indian Hills the conditions were simply too much for the turf and the grass was overwhelmed. 
  2. We discussed recovery strategies for this August and Fall to restore the bentgrass greens to good health. 
  3. Future life support tools to promote better summer survival were reviewed.
  1. Most of the greens will recover with cooler nighttime temperatures, fertilization, Some areas will need help with seed sod or plugs.
  2. At the time of the visit, it appeared the rapid decline of the bentgrass had stopped.  There were signs of some green leaf tissue emerging through the weak areas.
  3. As soon as the weather breaks, implement a grow-in fertility program.  The Andersons Contec products would be good options.  They can be put down in rates as low as 1/4 lb N per 1000sq. ft. with good uniformity.  They also dissolve readily with irrigation which reduces any burn potential.  Select one of the products that such as the 19-0-15 that has appreciable quantities of potassium given the recent heavy rains you have received.  A possible protocol for you is to apply 1/4 lb of N from a contec every week on the greens needing to be grown in.  As,  the weather cools the rates can be increased to 1/2 lb N per week.
  4. Vent the greens again as soon as possible to improve gas and water exchange through the rootzone.  Now would be a good time to use one of the heavy hitter fungicides such as Insignia or Heritage.
  5. I would not core aerate the putting greens this fall with 1/2 inch of 5/8 inch tines.  The grass is too weak and likely will be some significant damage done to the greens.  Instead consider using either hollow 1/4 inch or 3/8 inch tines sometime in late September to mid- October when the putting greens have recovered.  This will help to open them up a little bit and allow a maximum flow of oxygen into the rootzone.
It was a pleasure to visit Indian Hills to discuss the care of the course.  The maintenance staff does an excellent job of developing a maintenance program that balances the agronomic needs of the turf with the expectations of the golfer.
While the report summarizes the main topics of discussion during the tour of the course from a practical standpoint, it is impossible to detail every suggestion and observation offered.  Therefore, the Green Section agronomists encourage those who play to join us on the visit. 
Besides providing a service free of bias from affiliation with any product or manufacturer, the USGA Green Section is the largest supporter of turfgrass research in the world.  this research effort is critical to ensure the future of the game of golf and the industry of turfgrass maintenance.  The thrust of this research is to provide superior turfgrasses that play better and are easier to maintain while insuring golf courses remain positive influences on the environment.  Your club's membership in the USGA and support of the Green Section makes this research effort possible. 
Thank you for your support of the Turfgrass Advisory Service.  Please do not hesitate to call my office should you have any questions concerning this report, the research efforts of the USGA, or any matter regarding the maintenance of your course.

Chris Hartwiger
USGA Green Section

We have already put some of these suggestions in place and bugun the healing process.  Unfortunately it will take time and patience to fully heal from this years damage.  Thank you for your paitence and continued support.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Current State of the Greens

I haven't created a post on here in quite some time.  Primarily because I have been so consumed with the course this summer.  I don't know a P.C. term to describe our greens condition right now, but it's definitely not "immaculate".  We have endured a lot of different weather patterns this season; Early spring, Late frost, 90+ degrees for 2/3 of May, Heat that hasn't stopped all summer, Record breaking heat wave, Drought conditions, One of the wettest July's in a long time, massive amounts of rain fall in a short period of time.  All of these conditions turned into my worst nightmare. 
We were doing great through June into the first of July.  I recall checking root depths on the 5th of July and having a solid 4" of root mass.  Remember the 11 day stretch of 100-113 degree days.  We were good through that period, sure we had a few stress areas but we were okay.  Remember the massive amounts of rain that we got right behind the heat wave.  I think it was about 5" over a week.  Well, the 5" of rain was our downfall.  I was checking root depths shortly after the rains and we had about 1.5" of root mass.  It is a misnomer that greens only look bad when they are in need of water.  When they receive too much water they go through a process called "wet wilt".  You may remember they turned yellow and then thinned out, that was the wet wilt in process.  The plants essentially drowned.  Once the yellowing presented itself I immediately aerified the greens to get some oxygen in the soil.  Turned out, too little too late.  We had better weather patterns for the next 2 weeks.  This weekend we got hammered with 2.5" of rain.  I had our greens aerified again Monday.  But I fear it's, too little too late again. 
Hopefully, most of the damaged areas we will be able to "push" really hard with fertilizer to get them to fill back in.  There are some areas that we will have to reseed; #4, #8, #12, PG.  This will be a long process of regaining turf.  I am doing everything that I can to keep you playing on the correct playing surface.  I am hoping that the greens do not get any worse, because we may be looking at temporary greens if they do.  hopefully we can push through the remainder of the year get them back playable for next year. 
Please understand that it pains me terribly to have to work on something that reflects poorly on myself.