Friday, August 27, 2010

August 27, 2010

Underneath the golf course is buried a few miles of pipe and many more miles of wire which make up the skeletal structure of the irrigation system. Every so often, a pipe cracks or a fitting breaks and we scramble to repair it. It’s a big part of what we do. If the water isn’t working, we cannot irrigate.

These past weeks we have had three leaks – one on ten, one on the driving range, and another on #9 green bank. To give everyone an idea of the scope of these repairs, I am posting the following pictures showing the process of repairing the leak we had on ten last week.

The 6" tee split simply due to fatigue, as this one is at least 25 years old.

Here the area has been dug out and the excess water draining from the pipe is being pumped out.

Silvio and Edgar, after building a replacement tee section, carefully re-fit it where the original break was cut out.

After the blue couplers are tightened and the pvc couplers glued, the leak is fixed and the water turned back on! Refilling the excavation is next.

From start to finish, this break took approximately five hours to repair, followed by a 12 hour cure time for the glue to properly set before we were able to put it back in service!

Friday, August 20, 2010

August 20, 2010

On Wednesday, August 18, we received 1.75” of rain – it is the only significant rainfall that we’ve had for over 7 weeks. The day before, a thunderstorm just missed us. At the exact same time on Tuesday that we were busy syringing our greens and tees under a hot, sunny sky, 3” of rain was falling from lightning sliced clouds at Linwood CC, only a few miles away!

Wednesday’s rain was a good rain though. It was a soaking ran that came down slowly enough to soak into the soil and percolate deep into the root zone. It was just what we needed and I could not have asked for anything better to come from the skies…

Friday, August 13, 2010

August 14, 2010

There are more things than heat and drought and subsequent disease that stress turf. One of the other stresses (of many) is trees.

Shade caused by trees filters out light that the turf needs for photosynthesis. With less that an adequate ability to produce sugars, the turf plant can never become healthy or vigorous.

Trees also block air movement which creates stale, humid “air pockets”. Stagnant, humid air is a perfect environment for turf diseases. This is the reason we have fans on the 7th tees.

The unseen problem of trees is their roots. Trees have miles of surface roots that lie just beneath the soil surface and compete with the turf for water and nutrients. Every few years we bring in a specially designed machine to “prune” these roots along the fairway edges, tees, and greens.

Between these machine prunings, we sometimes have to do some areas manually. We use sharp edged flat shovels and push them down as deep as we can through these surface roots along the edges of greens and tees where we notice tree root competition.

We did this manual pruning the other day along the outside edges of 11 approach, 11 green, and 14 green. This pruning will help the approach and these greens to strengthen up.

When it is so dry like it has been, trees can cause a lot of turf damage – their root systems are so much bigger than the turf root systems, and so they can easily out compete turf roots for the soil water.

In this photo of the back of 10 tee, the turf is weak, thinned and then bare due to the tree root competition.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

August 11, 2010

There is an art to “hand watering” – knowing where the water is needed and having a feel for how much to give…too much or too little water can have negative effects on the turf, and in most cases poor watering will cause the turf to decline and die.

Being so important to get the right amount of water, we use many different nozzles for different applications. Some of these nozzles are (left to right):
- The large round nozzle is called a “rose” nozzle, and it produces a pattern much like a gentle shower. This type is used to water landscape areas, sod, and to water in fertilizers, etc.
- The small yellow nozzle produces a fine mist, and we use it to syringe greens, etc, where we only need a mist to lower the surface temperatures.
- The tall red nozzle and the blue nozzle beside it are “fire nozzles”. They produce a thick, pressurized water stream that can reach up to 25’. These are used to water large turf areas such as roughs, mounds, and sometimes fairways. These nozzles can also be dialed down to produce a shower like the rose nozzle, and be used for flowers etc. It is a very versatile nozzle and we use it more than any other.
- The short red and blue nozzles are used on greens where a mist is not enough, yet a full stream is too much! These nozzles produce medium to large droplet water sprays, and are best suited to hitting dry areas on greens and tees.
- The brass “slit top” nozzle is also a spray type, that puts down a heavy pattern and is used for dry areas in the fairways and rough.
- The last example in this picture is a proportional system with a fire nozzle and it is used to apply wetting agents where ever needed.

If you look closely, you will see many of these different nozzles being used on different parts of the course – watering is not a “one size fits all”!

Last, but not the least, the nozzle I use the most myself is my thumb! Its hard to hold back 120 psi with my thumb, but its worth it – I can make a mist or a full stream and everything in between in milliseconds! Technology is great, but every once in a while the old fashioned way works just as well!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

August 4, 2010

According to the National Weather Service, July 2010 here was the hottest July on record. (June 2010 was the warmest June on record) The NWS is predicting the same trend of record heat for August.

We are not alone in this heat – many other parts of the Northern Hemisphere across the globe are experiencing the same. We can point to a Bermuda High off the coast as our cause for heat here in the Mid Atlantic, but it does not explain the warmer temperatures for the rest of the world! Is it global warming? I really don’t know and it is way too political to get a clear answer– but I do know that we have experienced record rainfall, record snow fall, and now record heat in less than a year's time.

And all this makes growing grass – especially fine turf – a greater challenge. We have had to shift our practices accordingly to avoid adding any additional stress on the turf – we mow as early in the day as we can, hand water and syringe (we spent over 500 man / woman hours on this in July!), we've shortened our fungicide spray intervals, reduced our fertility so the turf does not get “overspent”, etc. We have also rested a few areas to reduce wear and tear and stresses, such as the 11th fairway, etc. Over all, these practices are helping us to get through this challenging weather.