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Dodge's Dirt

September 2018

What a wonderful month August was for us on the golf course.  We received only an inch of rain throughout the entire month-most of it in the early part of the month.  Ask most superintendents what they prefer and they will say too little rain over too much.  It felt good to use the irrigation system to its full potential for the first time in about two years-and it is good to know that for the most part the system remains solid and dependable.

I have no fancy pictures for the article this month but I can say that the difference in conditions from last month to this month is really quite dramatic.  I know that it is a good sign when the complaints go from dead grass to slow greens.  Slow greens means that you have a putting surface with grass on it-something that we have been working hard to achieve.  We are now at the point, finally, where we can now switch our focus from recovery to optimal playability.  These two turfgrass maintenance objectives are really not conducive to one another.  When pushing recovery, the growth that results, while pretty, results in a playing surface that is softer and slower that a fine playing golf course should be.  Now that we are pretty much recovered from the damage, we can now focus more on trying to firm things up and try to achieve the “firm and fast” that everyone is always talking about.  Sad to say it is now September when we hit this point, but given the circumstances, I am not surprised.  As I have said before, these things take time-especially in a shortened season like this one has turned out to be.

As I reflect on how this whole process panned out, I can think of a few things that I may have liked to have done differently if we ever have to do this again:

  1. Keep course closed until June 1st. This would have saved much wear on surfaces that simply were not growing yet (soil temperatures too cold) and made a recovery faster.  That being said, May’s weather was fantastic and play was up.
  2. Temporary greens on 7 and 14. This would have helped immensely to minimize traffic on these two most punished greens.  They would likely be fully recovered by now if we had done this.  However, I think that the complaints from being on temporary greens for a few months would have been just as bad, if not worse, than with keeping them open to play.  In addition, where exactly can you put a temporary green on 7?
  3. I think that we could have been more aggressive going after the 7th Green. Looking back, I think that we could have been much more aggressive deep verticutting/aerifying that green.  The resulting mess would have led to more complaints early but I think that the recovery would have ultimately been faster.  Like most things on this list, there are pros and cons either way.
  4. Invest in a non-disruptive seeding attachment and overseed areas with more frequency with less labor. While there were areas on fairways and greens that we seeded 3-4 times throughout the season, I think that we would have done this even more often if we had the proper equipment to do so.  I am going to make it my mission to have something like this on the shelf for these kinds of occasions.  Indeed, I already have something in mind.  We used the overseeding tines that I had purchased in March on many occasions this year and they worked well, but there are other techniques that we could add to increase the efficacy of this process.

As I talk to players about the golf course, most are extremely supportive of what we do and show interest in what is going on.  I enjoy these conversations and get valuable information from them.  For that, I thank you for the support.

See you on the golf course.

VIncent Dodge

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