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Dodge's Dirt

July 2016

The relentless rainfall that we have received during the latter part of May and into the middle of June created numerous challenges for the golf course and crew. We received close to the entire monthly rainfall amount for June in the first half of the month and the place showed it. Numerous cart path only rulings and difficulty in accomplishing routine maintenance. Fortunately that appears behind us for now and the course in moving into summer form.

One item of note you may notice-or likely not-is the way in which annual bluegrass i.e. Poa annua is beginning to show signs of stress on putting greens. This is intentional and accomplished through the careful application of turf growth regulators. The picture below should help to explain.]

Keys

Close up 14 green

Stressed Poa annua surrounded by bentgrass.

Note the areas of thinning, yellowing grass surrounded by darker green, growing grass. As the annual bluegrass patches begin to thin and die, we are driving growth on the bentgrass in order to crowd out the Poa annua. We drive growth by fertilizing a little bit more on putting greens. What this means from a playability standpoint is that greens are now stimping a 9’ (checked this morning) as opposed to the “normal” 9.5’ for this time of the year. This is, really, a minor price to play for managing the golf course for the future-particularly with the heavily contoured nature of our putting greens. As the summer continues and the bentgrass begins to fill in the vacated areas we will then back off on the fertilizer and recover the extra 6” or more of green speed. We thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as we fight the good fight against this putting green weed.

We do this because we strive for a cleaner bentgrass surface on putting greens for more consistent putting quality and, more importantly, we want to ensure that we come out of our winters with putting greens that are not dead. Annual bluegrass can be and sometimes is a wonderful putting surface. Oakmont in Pittsburgh is a great example. I have grown fine annual bluegrass putting surfaces in the Chicagoland area during my career. In parts of the country, however, where winters are extremely severe it simply does not survive the off season some years. Slow greens sometimes result in complaints but can be remedied. Dead greens often result in job loss.

See you on the golf course.

Vincent Dodge

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