Friday, August 14, 2015

How Come the Course is So Dry?

It seems hard to believe that the golf course could be this dry considering the torrential rains we had back in May and June.  However, our typical dry, warm summer weather pattern has settled in and much of the soil moisture that was in the ground is now gone.  To put in perspective, just how much it has changed, we've only received .75" of rain since July 9th.  During this same time, our daily ET rates have averaged over .16".  ET is an acronym for evapotranspiration, which is a measurement of water lost from the soil by a combination of water evaporating into the atmosphere and water that is used, or transpired, by the turf.  That means that almost 5" of moisture has been lost out of the ground since July 9th, while only receiving .75" of rain.  Now, of course we have irrigation to help compensate for the lack of rain, but with almost 11 million gallons of water that has been lost out of the ground over the past 5 weeks, our water supply is running low.  As you can see from the picture below, our irrigation pond has dropped almost two feet.  Almost two weeks ago, we began our summer water conservation program to keep as much water in our ponds as possible.  As you play the course over the next few weeks, you'll continue to see the Bermuda go dormant.  Please know that although the turf will turn brown, we are watering just enough to keep it alive and once the rain returns, the course will bounce back and look as green as it did earlier this summer.

As always, if you have any questions, or concerns, please feel free to contact anyone in the grounds department.  Thank you.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Greens Venting

This morning, the grounds staff began venting the putting surfaces.  This process occurs every 2-3 weeks throughout the summer to improve drainage, relieve compaction, and increase oxygen content in the soil profile.  Venting allows us to maintain longer roots through the most stressful time of year.  As you can see from the picture above, there is very little disruption to the surface and the greens are playable immediately after the process.  As you play today and tomorrow, you may come across the machine.  Please excuse us while we wrap up the project.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

#12 Bermuda Sod Work

This morning, the staff began cutting out some weak areas around the outside of #12 green.  These spots were the last remaining damage from the Leaf Spot outbreak we saw earlier this spring.  As you can see from the picture to the right, there was a sizable spot in the approach, which we were glad to remove.  There are also spots in the collar and along the backside of the green on both sides of the fan.   Despite the intense heat, the staff did a great job finishing up the whole surround by the end of the day.

Please keep out of these areas as much as possible while playing through #12.  Reducing the foot traffic in these areas will ensure a quick grow in.  Once the sod roots in, we will begin to lower the height of cut down to the necessary level.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Fairway Slicing

This week, the grounds staff solid tine aerated fairways using our Aerway shatter tine machine.  This machine has curved tines that twist under the surface as they come in and go back out of the soil. This slight twisting motion cracks the surrounding soil, loosening the clay to help improve air and water movement.  Our goal is to use this machine 3-4 times throughout the season to ensure more consistent moisture in the soil, improved density and a healthier plant.

The process is quite simple.  First, all irrigation heads and yardage markers are located to prevent damage.  Then, the Aerway slicer is used to solid tine the fairways.  Once this is complete, the fairway is then mowed to smooth the surface.  Lastly, the fairways are blown off to provide a clean, smooth finished product.  As you can see from the picture at the bottom of the post, the process creates very little disruption to the surface, while providing several key benefits to the soil below.  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer Tee Aeration

This week, the grounds staff performed our annual core aeration on tee boxes.  Each summer, when the tees are aggressively growing, they are core aerated to keep them as healthy as possible for the rest of the season.

As has been stated before, core aeration improves oxygen content, drainage capabilities, and rooting.  As you can see from the picture below, pulling the cores out of the ground makes a mess.  Once the cores are pulled out of the ground, they are left to dry and then drug with a steel mat.  This mat breaks apart the plugs and reincorporates the soil into the holes.  The thatch and grass is left at the surface which is then blown off.  The finished product is clean and ready for a mower.

finished product

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Summer Greens Maintenance Program

Since the first of June, a much drier,
warmer, weather pattern has emerged.  This drastic change in the weather has caused the grounds department to begin our summer greens management program.  A key piece to our program is solid tine aerating greens every three weeks.  The process creates tiny slits in the surface and, as you can see from the picture on the right, almost no disruption to the surface.  The channels created loosen the soil, improve drainage, and increase oxygen content in the soil.  All of which, will promote better rooting and a healthier plant throughout the summer.

Another major component to our greens management program is light, frequent topdressing.  The type of bentgrass we have on our greens produce a lot of thatch during the warm summer months and frequent applications of sand keep the greens from getting too soft and puffy.  The greens will also get a little soft from frequent hand watering, and topdressing is a great way to retain surface firmness during the summer months.

 Speaking of hand watering, the staff went out last week for the first time this season to check greens.  From now, until mid-September, there will be staff out every day making sure the greens have consistent moisture and are cooled off.  Keeping the soil moisture slightly dry, and as consistent as possible, promotes firm putting surfaces.

While the three techniques described above aren't the only things we do during the summer to maintain healthy bentgrass, they are some of the most important.  The grounds staff appreciates your patience and understanding this summer as we work to provide the best playing conditions possible.  Thank you.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Rainy Memorial Day Weekend

Bunkers took the most damage
However, the staff was able to repair them quickly

I toured the golf course this morning after a rain filled Memorial Day weekend, and was pleased to see very little damage, other than bunkers.  A total of 5" of rain fell over the weekend, which puts us at 13.50" thus far this month.  The staff, began putting bunkers back together yesterday, for the sixth time, and finished this morning.  The good news is that, although the ground is saturated and there is standing water in many places, the drainage we do have worked very well.  It seems the course handled the heavy rain very well and the only place you can tell we had an extreme amount of rain is the high water mark in the tunnel, and some debris along creek banks.  If we can dry out for a few days, and mow, we should be in good shape.  There is more rain scheduled for tomorrow through Friday.  Lets hope we miss some of it, we don't need any more for awhile.

The grass is laid over from the water flowing over the banks

Besides being wet, the course faired well

It's Official, Wettest Month in State History

As you can see from the title, we've already broken a 74 year old record for wettest month on record, and we still have more rain forecasted in the next week.  Here is some more great information from the Oklahoma State Climatologist, Gary McManus:

May 26, 2015       May 26, 2015       May 26, 2015       May 26, 2015       

Mad May

Well, whenever post-apocalyptic madmen start releasing water, you know things
have gotten pretty bad. For those of you that missed the Ticker on Sunday, yes,
we have eclipsed the record for wettest May AND month for the state of Oklahoma.
After all the shenanigans this weekend, the statewide average for the month
thus far stands at 12.93".


So our list of wettest Oklahoma months has a new sheriff in town, and we replace
that sheriff with each drop of water that falls between now and 11:59pm, May 31,

May 2015: 12.93"
Oct 1941: 10.75"
May 1957: 10.54"
May 1982: 10.38"
May 1943:  9.66"
Jun 2007:  9.51"
May 1902:  9.14"
Jul 1950:  9.07"

Again, we didn't just beat the previous record, we absolutely SMASHED it in this
"probably" El Nino-fueled enhanced southerly storm track with wide-open
moisture flow from the Gulf of Mexico. And it's not just Oklahoma, obviously.
This type of pattern impacts the entire Southern Plains.

The good news is that the drought, for all intents and purposes, is over for
the bulk of the state. Most lakes are full or overflowing, some to the point
of catastrophe. Speaking of catastrophe, the bad news is that widespread river
and flash flooding has wreaked havoc on lives and property over nearly all parts
of Oklahoma. According to the OK Dept. of Emergency Management, 9 storm-related
deaths have occurred since May 5, in addition to 49 injuries.

More bad news, the rain and severe weather chances are not finished. The 7-day
rainfall forecast does not bode well for those areas of the state already
underwater or filled to capacity in soils, creeks and reservoirs.

In early April, we would have killed for that type of rainfall forecast. Now, in
a cruel twist of fate, that type of forecast could literally kill. Severe weather
chances will go up again today. We'll let our friends at the local NWS offices
paint that picture.

And just in case you haven't noticed, it's been kind of chilly as well. I believe
we have probably set a few records for record low maximum temperatures over the
last several days. One of the things you'll see in a rainy month during the
warm season is a suppression of the high temperatures and little impact on the
low temperatures. The reason is pretty simple...the clouds and moisture act as
a shield to the suns rays during the daytime (hence, lower than normal high
temperatures) and a blanket at night, trapping heat that would normally radiate
away from the surface (hence, the preservation of the low temperatures). That's
exactly what we see in the Mesonet data for May thus far.

May 1-25 Statewide Average Mesonet Temperatures
           Tmax     Tmin     Tavg
Measured   74.3     55.8     64.7
Normal     78.9     55.8     67.4
Departure  -4.6      0.0     -2.7

The highest temperature we've seen on the Mesonet for May this year is 91
degrees at Altus back on the 18th. The high temperature at Woodward on the 20th
was 54 degrees, for crying out loud! That's like March, not May.

Some would say the lack of significant heat has saved us from an even worse
bout with severe weather, although the tornado numbers are stacking up. The
Norman NWS office has 32 twisters listed for May thus far, with 2 in April and
6 in March for a total of 40. Average for Jan-May is 38.4, so we're on track
to be above average thus far. That total of 40 will definitely be going up as
they investigate more damage paths.

The best news I've seen is the latest CPC precipitation outlook for June 2-8.

Increased odds for normal precipitation. I'll take it.

"What a lovely day!!" that will be.

Gary McManus
State Climatologist
Oklahoma Mesonet
Oklahoma Climatological Survey
(405) 325-2253