As the month of August starts to wind down, some of us may be looking forward to the school year starting up again or perhaps the beginning of the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE). This season, the turf will be looking forward to September more than anyone, as the cooler temperatures and shorter days will deliver a much-needed break from some of the longest, hottest stretches of weather we have ever seen. This week’s blog will provide a brief summary of our playing areas explaining their current state and what we should expect in the coming weeks.
When considering everything that’s been thrown at our greens this year such as prolonged extreme heat, drought, torrential rains and finally prolonged humidity, I am quite satisfied with how they have held up, as we have still been able to deliver expected conditions for our big events of the season. There has been some isolated thinning of turf on some collars; however, I am confident that this turf will begin to recover when we reach more seasonable weather. When the more seasonable weather does arrive, we will be able to dry the greens out and complete some of the cultural practices required to promote fast, firm greens. Unfortunately, during periods of prolonged heat stress, we cannot implement these practices.
Similar to our greens, the fairways have performed well this season, as they have supported more cart traffic than usual due to the heat and increased rounds this year. We have experienced some thinning in a few isolated areas due to a disease we would not normally encounter on fairways; the extreme heat and prolonged humidity have created ideal conditions for nearly every turf disease imaginable! Earlier this week we treated for the disease, which will allow for a speedy recovery in the coming weeks.
Some of our tees have had a tough go at it lately, as stresses such as heat, disease and golfer traffic have created areas with thinner turf. Unfortunately, with thin turf comes weeds, and the weed of the season this year is Crabgrass. You may have noticed it on your home lawn, in sidewalk cracks and unfortunately where it is most pronounced, our tees.
Some Crabgrass facts:
- Crabgrass shares the same physiological systems as Bermuda grass making it the perfect turf species for a hot dry summer such as this one.
- Unfortunately, crabgrass seeds are everywhere in the soil, they’re just waiting for a season such as this one to infest thinner turf areas and outcompete the surrounding grasses.
- Prior to the pesticide restrictions, pre and post emergent control products were available for homeowners and golf courses to help control Crabgrass. With the introduction of the pesticide ban for homeowners the supply of these control products has nearly disappeared.
- After the first few frosts of the season pass the crabgrass will die.
Until then, we are documenting our worst crabgrass areas on the property in the event that we can compliantly obtain products to help treat Crabgrass in the spring before things get out of hand. At this point in the season, our best method of control is to pick the Crabgrass by hand, which is not very realistic given how much grass is present on our golf course.
In an effort to keep our tee decks as tidy and presentable as possible, we have assigned an additional staff member to help with course setup each morning by removing as many weeds as possible in a defined area in front of and behind each of the markers.
After repairing damage to the fairways from last week’s storm we had some extra bent grass sod. Rather than let the sod go to waste we decided to re-sod the forward tees on 17. We are optimistic that it will re-open for the rest of the season before August 27.
As an additional effort to help evenly distribute wear on the tees and allow time for recovery, we may move some markers further ahead or behind their typical locations. In the event that we do this please know that we will keep these yardage differentials in mind when setting up the rest of the golf course to ensure the overall yardage on each nine doesn’t become too long or too short.
August 8 Thunderstorm
On the afternoon of August 8, we received approximately 4” of rain; most of that rain fell in less than an hour. As you can imagine, such a large volume of rain falling in such a short time created several challenges on the golf course. Most notably, the damage caused by the mudslide on 18 green, all bunkers washing out, and flooding on 6 and 18 fairways.
The mudslide on 18 occurred due to storm drains along the valley road being unable to process the volume of water coming down the path and from surrounding areas. As you may recall, mudslides, although smaller, happened nearly once a year before we installed a larger drain. That drain was installed about 8 years ago and we have not had a mudslide since then, so you can imagine how much rain fell on Wednesday! The portions of the green covered in mud were cleaned up the following morning. Unfortunately, the silt accumulation in the rough was too difficult to clean up. This area was sodded on August 16 and will be ready for play in a few days.
When staff arrived at work on Thursday morning every bunker on the golf course had been completely washed out. Thanks to our new liners, the bunker sub-grades remained intact with very little contamination. Greens staff were able to have all bunkers back in play by Friday afternoon. Over the past week, staff have been busy checking sand depths and adjusting as necessary. Although this was the worst washout of the season, we have experienced 8 washouts due to thunderstorms this year.
When the rain finally stopped we were left with a lake over 3’ deep in the middle of 18 and 6 fairways. Running multiple pumps for 6.5 hours the following morning removed most of the water. Unfortunately, the small amounts of water left behind with a thin layer of silt killed some grass. The areas that were completely dead were sodded on August 16. The remaining areas have been seeded and are already showing early signs of recovery.
Finally, please don’t forget to practice course etiquette. You may have noticed some educational videos streaming on the clubhouse monitors starring our Captains and Director of Golf. If you haven’t already seen the videos please follow the link below.