At Stillmeadow Country Club we hosted our member/guest tournament, also known as the Royal and Ancient, this past weekend. I would like to say that as the turf and maintenance department is concerned, we were very discouraged that we were not able to deliver the type of playability that we wanted due to unforeseen weather events. I can assure you that it was sickening for us to work for 3-4 weeks in preparation of the tournament only to have it all removed from our control after a total of 4 inches of rain on the first two days of the event along with a windstorm that peppered the course with tree debris. All that we can hope is that everyone noticed that we worked very hard to deliver the best course conditions that we were able to deliver.
The other thing I would like to discuss related to our change in weather is the event we are experiencing on our greens known as wet wilt. Wet wilt is when the natural defense mechanisms of the turf plants shut down due to the lack of oxygen in the soil profile thanks to the excess water caused from rain events or over watering. Ours has been caused from the excess rainfall that occurred last weekend. Other contributing factors to wet wilt are high soil temperatures which we have also experienced as of late and high humidity which keeps the soil from drying quickly. The main function of the turf plant that is restricted is the plants ability to cool itself through transpiration. This problem will always be an issue on a few of our greens thanks to poor drainage on our soil greens. Wet wilt is capable of occurring almost anywhere but is definitely prominent in areas of poor drainage and areas of where poa annua is heavily populated. Our low lying areas that drain poorly on greens have both of these issues.
Our plan to reduce the severity of damage is to vent the greens. We plan to do this a couple of different ways. The first procedure that we have already accomplished was to spike the greens. Spiking greens is very noninvasive to playability but drastically helps to get some air into the top inch to two inches of the greens soil profiles. Next, we plan to go a step further by aerating all of the troubled areas with 1/4" needle tines to get more air further down into the profile. We also plan to reduce mowing/rolling frequency as well as raising the mowing heights a touch. Yes, this will mean slower putts! We have made leaps and bounds of progress on our course in the 8 short months that we have been here and we don't plan to takes steps backwards now. If we have normal late August and September weather, we should only be talking about a few weeks of slightly slower green speeds.
If you would like to read more about wet wilt I would encourage you to read the following USGA sponsored article at http://gsr.lib.msu.edu/2000s/2006/060307.pdf
Here are a few pictures of the start of our greens with wet wilt
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
As of 7/10/12 the grassed driving range tees at Stillmeadow Country Club are closed. The tees have been aggressively aerated, topdressed with sand and seeded with bermuda seed. The tees will be closed for an undetermined duration of time as progress is being closely monitored. During this process the artificial tees will be available for use. However, regular watering cycles will be programmed to run throughout everyday to ensure continued moisture of the seedlings. The sprinklers for this process also water the artificial tees so please be aware of this. Thank you for your patience as we take yet another step to improving our club.
Saturday, July 7, 2012
High summer temperatures and dry conditions have moved into the tri-state over the last few weeks. The following is a description of what we have done, are doing and plan to do to prevent a loss of the progress we have made to improve your course at Stillmeadow Country Club. We have made huge strides and this is the time of year where we could loose ground quickly.
This is a picture of a drought stressed area in a fairway. As you can easily see from the photo the two sets of cart tracks passing through the drought stressed area have only compounded the issue. This is one of many examples of why Stillmeadow Turf and Maintenance has chosen for the cart ruling to be "cart path only". This ruling will only be in effect on the days of extreme temperatures or on days with extremely low humidity which relates to rapid loss of moisture in the soil and turf. This is not a decision that we take lightly and you should know that we will have the carts off the paths as much as possible.
Reduced mowings.....Mowing is a huge stress on turfgrass and while we will do our best to give quality playing conditions daily, we also plan to reduce our frequencies of cutting to reduce the stress on plants. There is a potential that tees and fairways could get a little "fuzzy."
Watering practices....During these days of stressful conditions we also plan to have programmed syringes working on fairways. Our fairway sprinklers are typically wired in series of two. Within the series of two, the one sprinkler will be on the left side of the fairway while the second will be directly across from it on the right. We will call the two heads a station. Each fairway will water from green to tee one station at a time. Each station will also run for a duration of 2-4 minutes. These programmed syringes will usually start between 12pm and 6pm.
While there are many other items to our stress prevention program, these are the ones that we feel have the highest impact on a round of golf at Stillmeadow Country Club. It is our hope that the impact will be minimal while preserving our turf at the same time.
We appreciate your help.