Having had a few cold mornings recently, the pace around the maintenance shop has slowed. This slower pace allows everyone a few moments to reflect back on the long summer. Here's a quick recap of the weather we faced.
The blue graph represents actual temperatures. The total number of days over 90 degrees and the flattening between Mid May and Mid October, indicate a warmer and longer summer than usual. From the May 1 through Oct 10th the temperatures felt very "summer-like". The lower graph represents rainfall. Note the flatness of the line from early April to late May, indicating very little rainfall over that 6 week period. Also note the two vertical shifts in the graph around mid June and early October. These two rain events account for a large percentage of total rain over the last 4 months. I estimate those two events were approximately 7 of the 18 inches since mid April. Overall, Bloomington has received 27 inches of precipitation this year. For comparison, here is year-to-date totals in the area:
The lack of significant rain events is important at Weibring Golf Club, because we faced a challenge with our water supply this summer. In a normal year, we replenish the holding pond on #17 near 100% of use each day. This summer, I estimate we were only replenishing our water supply at 50% of expected. This was due to maintenance issues and the dropping of the static water level in the underground aquifer we pull our water from. We implemented drought management strategies that included watering only 50% of normal, to offset our inability to replenish beyond that use. One practice we eliminated, to help further reduce water usage, was what we call our "flushing" irrigation cycles. A flushing cycle requires the use of irrigation water to pull salts through the profile of the greens. Through high volume irrigation applications we initiate a downward capillary pull of the water through our sand based greens and drain tiles. Here's a quick description of the process from the USGA: http://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/course-care/regional-updates/central-region/2017/how-much-water-is-needed-to-flush-a-usga-putting-green-.html Heavy rains can also create these flushing events, but as noted in the graph we received very few high volume rain events.
In my opinion, we were still able to maintain high quality putting surfaces throughout the summer through carefully timed applications of key nutrients for turf. Most are aware of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium, but Calcium, Sulfur, and Magnesium are also important, especially in high salt and bicarbonate situations. I have been humbled by the effects of a limited and poor quality water supply and value the education I received while obtaining my turf degree, consulting with my colleagues, and studying for the certification examine through the GCSAA (Golf Course Superintendent's Assoc. of America). This was a summer that required a professional approach to turf science and I am proud of the results, given the circumstances we faced.
Thanks for Reading!
Travis Williams, CGCS
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