Greens Staff Update
We will be aerifying fairways and rough starting Monday, the 14th of July. Our typical fall course aerification that takes place in October is being replaced with this mid-summer process. Why? Fog-filled days and less play than what we experience in October. There are also some agronomic benefits; by doing this process now it will allow us to break up some of the hydrophobic areas that are starting to get bigger. Opening these areas up now we can hope to limit their impact by allowing water to penetrate. We will be punching a solid tine that measures 3/4” wide and will penetrate 8”-13” in depth. Once that is complete, we will topdress the areas with sand and seed. Machines will be traveling throughout the course during this process, so please be patient during this sometimes-invasive procedure. The picture below illustrates how aerification benefits the turf.
There’s a saying, “Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over”. We are in the middle of one of the worst droughts the state has ever experienced. Currently, we are in drought stage D-4, this translates into exceptional drought as you can see in the graphic below.
Agronomically, we are working to reduce our use of water. We are applying wetting agents to help move water through the soil profile and alleviate hydrophobic areas. Our aerification and topdressing program helps to open up the soil and increase root growth. We also recycle the water that we use to clean off the equipment on a daily basis. New pop-up sprinklers around the bunkers to properly water the grass and not the sand were installed during the renovation. We also utilize 2 weather stations to water properly based on the daily evapotranspiration rate. We have soil moisture monitors in 9 of our greens; they help maximize the water that is applied to make sure we get the most out of irrigation cycles. We also monitor the greens moisture with handheld soil moisture sensors throughout the day.
With all of these conservation efforts, we are still asked to conserve even more. The state has asked for a 20% reduction, while our water district has asked us to reduce consumption by 10%. Golf Courses are always under the public microscope for their environmental actions. In an effort to be stewards of the game and the environment we are setting a goal to reduce our consumption by 10% property wide. We will make an effort to reduce clubhouse water usage by serving water on request in the restaurant and ballroom. The greatest impact as a result of this 10% reduction will be the reduction in turf areas watered on the golf course. This will have a very limited impact on play as we will select turf areas that are out of play. Most reductions will be in the rough between the tee area and beginning of the fairway. We will continue to identify additional sprinkler heads that could be turned off or adjusted, while having a limited impact on play. During the next few months when there is typically little or no rain we ask for your understanding if you notice some areas of turf that are not as green and lush as we conserve water on the course at the request of the water district. We will continue to monitor this historic drought and keep you posted if further actions are requested or required. Even with this reduction our water costs will not decrease. The East Bay Municipal utility district has raised water rates for homes and businesses by over 19% during the last two years. We will continue to strive to create the best course conditions possible for our members and guests to enjoy.
Greens Staff Update
On Monday, July 7th, we will needle tine aerify the greens and apply a light sand topdressing. Using needle tines on greens is a vital supplement for healthy turf. By using small needle like tines, we are able to create an oxygenated root zone that encourages roots to grow deeper and stronger. We are also able to alleviate compacted greens while improving surface drainage, drought tolerance and irrigation infiltration. The benefits of topdressing include helping prevent the buildup of thatch, modifying the surface layer of a rootzone and smoothing the putting surface. Another important function of topdressing helps break down organic matter. If organic matter begins to accumulate too high, the greens physical properties begin to decline along with the health of the turf. Insufficient or lack of topdressing will result in excessive organic matter (thatch), puffy playing surface, shallow roots and can cause the turf to be more susceptible to scalping. All of these components together, help to maintain a healthy stand of turf, even in stressful periods throughout the summer. Have a great 4th of July weekend!
Water conservation takes center stage at the U.S. Open
A U.S. Open is noted for being the toughest test in golf. But there was a different look to the recent hard set-up at the Pinehurst No. 2 course. In fact, there were more conversations about the spectacular renovation of Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore than Martin Kaymer’s run-away victory. And showcasing the efforts of Crenshaw and Coore were GCSAA Class A members Bob Farren, CGCS, director, grounds and golf course management at Pinehurst, and Kevin Robinson, CGCS, superintendent at Pinehurst No. 2.
Mike Davis, the USGA’s executive director, sent a clear message for the future look of golf courses in this country at the organization’s pre-championship press conference.
“We have to start to train golfers to say less water is good, and have maintenance up the middle,” Davis said. “What happens out in the roughs is that you will use less water, mow it less, use less fertilization, and that’s a good thing.”
One of the advantages of the renovation to No. 2 is that it now uses just 15 million gallons of water per year as opposed to 55 million gallons before.
“That’s hugely important,” said Davis. “We think long-term that water is going to be the biggest obstacle to the game of game; more than participation, more than anything. It’s not going to be a question of cost. It’s going to be a question of can you get it?”
Some of the industry trade publications included a piece last week about the future of golf courses with less water in this country. Ron Sirak of Golf World, Brad Klein of Golfweek, and even George Willis of the New York Post were among those writing favorably about the new Pinehurst look.
At week’s end, SportsIllustrated.com offered a round-table discussion, with every panelist being in favor of the less-watered look.
Editor Cameron Morfit was in favor of the Pinehurst look “because it makes sense both financially and environmentally. I liked the way the course looked; it wasn’t such a manipulation of nature.”
And writer Alan Shipnak agreed, saying, “Water is going to usurp oil as this century’s most valuable resource. Lush, green, overly fertilized courses are going to become increasingly rare, which is fine by me.”
The message is clear. And the USGA will have chance to drive home the message again in 2015 at Chambers Bay in the Seattle area. It is another golf course where firm and fast will trump lush and green.
USGA Video on Watering For Healthy Turf