Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Successes and Needed Improvements

Storm Water Project
No standing water on #12 fwy
after 2.50" of rain!
With a majority of the storm pond project completed and the heavy rain the past week we are able to assess how well our holding pond is working.  On August 16th we received 1.25” of rain and on August 18th we received 2.50” of rain, both times we had little if any standing water.  Normally the storm on August 18th would have meant golf course closure for a day.  Other than a little water in #4 fairway there was not the massive flooding that previously caused golf course closures.    Also #11 fairway did not get the ponding effect that we previously experienced because our tile system was able to handle both #12 fairway thru #16 tee and #11 fairway at the same time.   Even though the new holding pond is only a couple of weeks old it has already saved 1 day of golf!
Water moisture meter and firmness meter
The past couple of weeks we have been experimenting with our new water moisture meter and firmness meter.   These items will really help us keep greens “dialed” in so that we achieve the right moisture and firmness.   Our regime will focus on keep good plant health while making greens firm but receptive to well struck iron shots.

New meters

 Due to the wet period we have experienced and how new these meters are to us we are still experimenting with the data so that we can hone in how we want our turf to perform.  The rest of the season will be a good test so we can go into 2015 with a good idea of how we can interpret the data to achieve optimal playing conditions on a more consistent basis.   
Needed improvements
Drainage woes …
Now that we have our storm drainage under control, it’s time to focus on other areas of the course so we can improve both turf health and playability.  I still believe that our #1 area for improvement on the course is adding drainage to many areas of the course. I have broken down the areas that need drainage to improve turf quality and playability:
1.       Greens- #4, #6, #11, #13, #16 and #17 greens need to be addressed.  The excessive rain and high humidity showed that these putting surfaces need some attention.  Keep in mind 2013 and 2014 have been very mild weather wise, hence turf on these greens looks very good.  If we get years of hot, humid and rainy weather these greens will underperform.  Turf loss in seasons of hot, humid and rainy weather should be expected if we do not correct the problem.  Some minor turf thinning was observed last week on #13, #16 and #17 due to excessive water and the inability of the water to escape.  Although turf still looks good and most members may not notice what I observed, the question should be asked: What if we had extended periods of severe weather like in 2010, 2011, and 2012? Would these greens still be as good as they are now? The answer is no they would not and we should expect less than stellar conditions.

Thinning turf on #16 green.
Taken 8/25/14

2.       Collars and Approaches- Overall collars are in the best shape they have been in 5 years.  Collars and approaches are closely related to greens because of their close proximity to each other.  So improving drainage in collars/approaches also has positive impact on drainage on greens and vise versa.  Collars like #2, #4, #10 #11, #13, #14, #16, #17, and #18 could all use some smile drainage to catch water.   Collars and the approaches hold the most water because our greens slope from back to front.  This means excess water runs off into the approach and collar area making them softer and susceptible to all kinds of maladies.  Firmer, healthier turf in the approach is desired to help shots hit short run onto the putting surface plus with added drainage we will see less of the worn out turf that can persist in the summer months of July and August.
#2 collar holds water.
3.       Fairway and Rough- #4, #14 and #16 fairways all have small areas that need some drainage to improve turf quality.  Old USGA reports confirm that these areas have been problematic for over 25 years. Also the area in front of #14 tee and east of #6 green hold excessive amounts of water and should be looked at for future drainage.
#16 fairway swale
The golf course has been in stellar shape all season however it is my job and that of the greens & grounds committee to look at problems so we can continually improve our product.  By fixing our drainage issues we have more consistency in our presentation, turf health, and playability.  Right now the areas I outlined for drainage are at the mercy of Mother Nature.  Remember she is not always kind . . .