Thursday, June 23, 2016

Its Been Interesting, Exhausting, and Just a Wee Bit Frightening

As Asst. Skip reminds us from time to time, don't be scared. Well, the month of June has been interesting but pardon my French, it has scared me just a wee bit with regular member play and the upcoming schedule of events taking place from mid-July and into August. Right now we are in the top five of warmest Junes' on record but it appears there is a break coming by the middle of next week. With predicted highs over the next few days we will have 18 days over 90, our average is 10.

Well, why am I loading up with weather stats? Its not a new month.

June is usually one of the best summer months for ball roll out. I think we were doing pretty well early in the month but then came this blistering weather and things have changed a bit. We needle tined a few weeks ago to open up our greens and allow them to breath a bit. Good thing we did because they sure needed it. Well, we did it again the last couple of days and we have been having to put some serious moisture to our greens in the last 5-6 days. High temperatures, wind and lack of rainfall, .14" in the last 20 days has created some serious challenges for us. Our biggest challenge has been the occurance of Localized Dry Spots(LDS) These are areas of the greens where the sand in non-wettable or hydrophobic(repels water) I won't bore you with more detail but if you want it click the link highlighted above.

We use wetting agents of various types to offset these conditions. They might not completely eliminate the issue but they assist us with getting moisture to the areas as needed. The product I was using this season was not doing the trick so I went out last Monday evening after an outing and sprayed a new combination of products on the greens. This spray required the products to be watered in heavily which we did and we have continued to do with hoses to play catch up with the moisture levels of our greens and get the number of dry spots reduced. Now we slowly have to back the water off and let the greens begin to dry again as we appear to have rounded the corner slightly.

Excellent ball roll out conditions occur usually with drier greens, lower humidty, little rain and plant growth regulation. Smaller leaves creating less friction, the heavier or moisture laiden the air slows roll, lack of rain which keeps flushes of growth from occurring and regulation which also slows growth during the day all contribute to roll out. As you noticed at the US Open on Friday, greens conditions were much different than what they were early in the week than right after the rainfall and improved considerably over the weekend with drying wind and some increase in mowing and rolling activity on the greens to increase speed. I will not sacrifice plant health early in the summer with excessive rolling or double/triple cutting. For regular play and activities, it is not good practice with the lack of infrastucture and age of our greens. As mentioned in the past, I prefer to work at this time in my life than not.

Okay,  you've taken 3-4 paragraphs, what's your point? The point is I'm sure some of you are wondering what's happened to ball roll out in the last 10 days or so. Well, ball roll out went out with the bath water as we had to adjust our practices to meet this early summer stress of heat and no rainfall challenge. Future predictions of a hotter than normal summer also come into play here. We've had to reduce our sand topdressing program for a couple of weeks which improves ball roll because of the high heat Even though we have needle tined the greens and there is not major disruption to the surfaces, it does slow ball roll out. Of course the heat has caused us to modify some of our mowing schedules and we have given the greens a couple of days off last week from mowing and once this week.

My main focus is to get through the full year without turf loss. Can that be done in some difficult circumstances, sure but it will require a gentle hand to our greens from time to time and we are going through a gentle time right now. I would expect a change in the weather next week to more average temperatures will help us improve the quality of the surfaces and ball roll out. The expectation and challenge I place on myself and staff is pretty high. I very much understand the significance of our place in history, our yearly Invitational and the Metropolitan Amateur in which only comes around every 15-20 years. I look over to the right column and see the countdown clocks ticking for a couple big events so yes I get geeked up to with these events.

We are also very much concerned about everyday play here at the club. We have dedicated members still coming out regularly in 95-100 degree heat and challenge this beast of a course with her unlevel lies at every turn. We want the conditions as good as they can be under the existing circumstances.  I appreciate your understanding as we hopefully round the corner next week and become a little more seasonable with our weather and course conditions.

One of our spring and summer touches with nature each season at our urban club is the birth and growth of our yearly Red-tailed Hawklet. She/he had one of our gray squirrels in its clutches.Did not realize it until after I stopped the video and it flew into a tree with its prey.

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