Old Palm News

Lee Bladen's Turf Talk: Enough is Enough

December 12, 2013

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OK! Enough is Enough, I surrender. By Lee Bladen Old Palm Golf Course Superintendent       I have been a Superintendent in the golf maintenance business for 40 years, and I never remember a summer or fall like we just went through. The amount of rain that we have had over the last 7 months is astounding. The total amount of 57 inches of rain in the last 7 months and the 8 inches we had last week has made things difficult to maintain. Last week after the 8 inches of rain, it took over 400 man hours to fix the bunkers that washed in. That does not include the hours it took to shovel the coquina tee walkups, or waste bunker repairs. We haven't even started fixing the 5 trap faces that have fallen in or the numerous washouts on some of the lake banks. So you say that is just one day or an incident. Well not exactly! Daily agronomic practices on this course have done a 180 degree turn from providing regular maintenance practices on a day to day basis to an aggressive offensive and defensive posture against the sever changes and abnormalities in the weather. These weather conditions we are experiencing have caused more disease, weed, and insect pressure throughout the course, more so than I have seen in the past. The putting greens for example are cut at higher heights than before at this time of year. More chemicals have to be used more regularly. Aerification using solid pencil tines is now done every other week to help drainage and compaction instead of monthly. The topdressing frequency on the putting greens is increased and we use heavier rates of sand. All is a balancing act to grow quality turf. Weather is the controlling factor in every procedure we perform. With the rain comes cloudy days and we all know from our biology days how critical sunlight is to the photosynthesis process of a plant. Without it there is no plant growth. So we raise cutting heights to create more green leaf blade to compensate for the cloudy days. With no growth putting surfaces start to thin out, and algae forms in the thinner areas. Collars show more stress. Thinner turf results in more weeds taking over and the problems just keep cycling. Maybe surrender is the wrong word at this time. Its more like "Rolling with the Punches" we are bending to some degree to get through this but we are not going to break. We are working as hard as we can to provide the best conditions at Old Palm at this time. Is there some give and take? Yes. Are the greens at this time going to be as fast as always? No. Are the bunkers going to be perfect every time? No. Over time this too will pass and we will get back to grooming the course to a condition we are proud off. Right now our job is to manage the course, particularly the greens, in a manner that as we move deeper into this season will produce the best surfaces possible.


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