Course Maintenance Update May 2018

With the onset of summer (I guess we skipped spring), my time gets stretched thin. I am going to try to keep posting updates, but they will be shorter and more to the point than my off season posts. I send weekly updates to our golf course leadership group and will included the pertinent information from those messages through this forum.

Maintenance-wise we are back into a summer routine. The golf course is overall good and will slowly be coming into a more uniform color as all the grasses even out their growth patterns after plant growth regulation this spring. Detail work such as string trimming, bunker edging, and continuous rough mowing has now begun. Please be patient with the rough height and details. It will slow in a month or so, and we will be able to keep up and provide the details we expect. Overall, we are a little dry, but I prefer dry over wet this time in the year. It will build roots and handle the summer stress better. Greens will vary a bit from firm and fast when we are drying them down and soft when we start to flush with heavy irrigation (this helps with salt accumulation, more on that later). Mowing heights have been raised to .125 inches. This will help aerification recovery (May 21/22). Once healed we will slowly lower back to .115 inches by mid-July and hold through the fall. The extra hundredth of an inch has a ten-fold effect in the plants’ photosynthetic and respiration process. The intention is to strengthen the plants then groom them to meet our expectations come late summer and through the fall.

We fertilized greens and skipped mowing Tues and Wed this week to allow the fert granulars to break down. We are also watering heavy headed into aerification next week. 5/8” Solid tines backfilled with sand. Front 9 Mon, Back 9 and PG Tues. Fert again next Wednesday. A lot of water (and hopefully some rain) and rolling/ dry cutting without baskets in the afternoons. This allows us to cut the grass, but not pick up the sand we just spread. We will spray greens Friday or Monday with more fert and sharpen mower blade/ mow greens like normal Saturday the 26th.

You may have noticed, over the last year we have applied more granular products than years past. This is to offset poor water quality. I’ll try not to get too technical, but when we rely on irrigation (i.e. absence of rainfall) salts accumulate at a high rate. The salts can tie up useful nutrients such as Calcium and Magnesium and cause other issues in the soils. Bottom line, when we have to water with only irrigation my job gets more difficult. To offset the problems we flush our greens with very heavy irrigation cycles to pull salts through the profile and we apply elemental fertilizers such as Gypsum (Calcium/Sulfur), KMag (Potassium/Magnesium/Sulfur), and MAP (Nitrogen/Phosphorous). These are all soil applications, thus spraying nutrients that uptake through the leaves does not work. If we accept that salts will tie up some of the Ca and Mg, hopefully we will  have overloaded the soil enough to give the plant available Ca, Mg, etc. The sulfur acidifies our soils, which is important to achieve the proper Hydrogen balances (that’s what pH measures). N, P and K are the macro nutrients that all plants need to function and are most efficient under proper pH.

A few other notes. Our IM (intermediate rough cut) mower is being repaired. We have no other mower that mows that height and that width, so the IM may be missing for a while. I’ll keep you updated on the status, but hopefully it’s not too serious. I know our golfers expect/ think the IM cut is nice, but it is one of the costliest mowings per acre. More info from the USGA on cost of IM can be found at this link A Waste of Time and Resources   Thanks for reading!

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