Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sun screen for your turf?

Yes that right, there is a new product on the market called Turf Screen that is being marketed to protect your turf from harmful UV radiation. 

Turf Screen
  Turf Screen was the brain child of Scott May who was the golf course superintendent of Manufactures Golf and Country Club near Philadelphia, PA.  After applying the product to his golf course and seeing how beneficial it was, he quit his job as superintendent and started up a  company to sell Turf Screen to golf courses full time.  The active ingredients in Turf Screen is zinc oxide, the same white stuff that you see on the noses of life guards at the beach.  The theory goes that all plants are susceptible to sunburn and solar stress from UV radiation and that Turf Screen will protect your plants from that damage.  Superintendents who have used the product report decreased water use, decreased canopy temperature, decreased turf stress and wilt, and improved plant health.  With so many positive testimonials I had to try it.  We applied Turf Screen to the greens on Wednesday.  The product contains a green pigment which made the greens a nice green color.  We will continue to experiment with this product and keep you updated on the results we are seeing.

Green color response from Turf Screen applied to the left. Untreated turf to the right.

We have also been doing some bunker work.  Over time grass along the edge of the bunkers creeps into the sand.  Periodically we need to identify where the original edge of the bunker was and cut the grass back.  In some places the grass has grown in a foot or more.  The shape of the bunker edges are an integral part of a golf course architects design. By cutting the bunkers back to their original lines we are maintaining the integrity of the Rees Jones design.

Removing grass that had grown into the bunker sand.

The chipping green bunker is also getting some much needed attention.  This particular bunker is very prone to wind sweeping the sand out of the bunker and depositing it outside the bunker.  Over time a layer of sand over 12 inches deep had accumulated at the far end just outside the bunker.  To repair this we stripped the sod, removed the built up sand back down to the original soil level and then replaced the sod.  We have this same problem on several bunkers on the course and hope to preform this same procedure to those bunkers later this summer.

Removing wind blown sand from outside the chipping green bunker.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Hand Watering

As we progress into summer making sound water management decisions becomes increasingly important.  Finding the right balance between golfer’s expectations of firm fast conditions and sustaining healthy turf becomes increasingly difficult.

Weather Station

Although the irrigation system at Huntsville Golf Club is over 20 years old, it is still a very good system.  We have over 1,200 individual irrigation heads that are all controlled by a centralized computer.  We also have an on-site weather station which records evapotranspiration and can help to calculate how much to water to apply.  Despite these tools and technology, determining how much to irrigate is as much of an art as it is a science.  Applying too much water will lead to soft playing conditions, increased disease pressure and shortened root systems.  Apply too little and the grass will suffer from drought stress which could lead to turf loss.

"Hand watering gives you the ability to deliver water where it is needed.."

Hand watering a green
Modern irrigation heads are designed to apply water uniformly to the turf, unfortunately, the turf does not always dry out uniformly.  This is most evident on greens which are grown on sand for drainage purposes and can dry out very quickly.  As the green dries down certain ridges and high points tend to dry out first.  Although the simplest solution would be to run the irrigation heads, this would lead over watering areas of the green that are not dry.  It is at these times that hand watering becomes a vital maintenance procedure.  Hand watering gives you the ability to deliver water where it is needed while avoiding over irrigating other areas. 

Although no one likes to see maintenance workers hand watering the greens during the day.  Please be patient and understand that the greens staff is out there trying to produce healthy greens that are firm and fast.