Grounds Maintenance Update - July 2021
Where is all this rain going?
Chances are, that while you are reading this, its raining or about to rain. 7” in 7 days the week after 4th of July, and it seems as though we’ll be getting some intermittent storms throughout the remainder of the month. The weather has been in our favor to receive the rain, it terms of turf health, however the golf course is at its moisture capacity.
When receiving large, 1”+ rainfalls at a time, its important for us to know how close we are to field capacity in our soils. In simple terms, field capacity refers to how much water soils can hold without puddling. How often it rains, how fast it rains, how much it rains, and how fast the soils are draining all contribute to the field capacity value. We reached field capacity in our soils at around 3.5” of consistent rainfall this past week.
Golf Course Care in Heavy Rain
So where does the remaining 3.5” of rain go? Once the soils are saturated, the drain lines through the property begin to fill. First, the sub-soil drainage under greens, tees, bunkers, and fairways will fill and discharge water off to the perimeter of the property. Once the subsurface drainage is active, the larger storm drainage functions of the property kick into gear. Storm drainage components are made of much larger drains and pipes that move mass amounts of sheet flow off surfaces. Once the storm drains fill, which can happen rather quickly when receiving 1” of rain per day, it is a matter of time before we start finding water where it doesn’t belong.
The golf course will slowly drain as the weather allows. We need a few stretches of dry weather to accelerate that process. While we wait for that to happen, maintaining the golf course becomes very difficult. There are areas in the rough that will not tolerate large mowers or consistent cart traffic. Fairways in general have been and will remain on the shaggier side, as it has been difficult to get consistent mows on them throughout this month. We have regularly mowed tees with no big issues, and all the greens drainage work in the last year has allowed us to mow them daily.
The positive in all this is that the temperatures have remained very manageable. If we got this much rain at one time with last July’s temperatures, every golf course in Mass would be in crisis mode. Saturated soils and high humidity make for ideal disease growing conditions. The mild temperatures may keep things on the wetter side, but the water is helping the turf more than hurting it. Elsewhere, we had a great week in the bunkers for the 4th of July, but unfortunately much of the added sand will need to be replaced. Also, as we have finished most of our hydroseeding in the rough, most of the seed that hasn’t germinated yet has washed away. We will be keeping up with these seedings once we can get back to basics and working under normal conditions.
We ask that you please take this wet month of weather into consideration when driving your golf cart. Please adhere to cart path only rules as we let the golf course dry down, and please be patient with the staff as we do our best to return to normal playing conditions. When conditions allow, every rough mower we own will be on the golf course for the full work day. It may make for loud rounds of golf or for a lot of clippings, but it is a necessary evil in order to keep up with maintenance without harming the golf course. Also keep in mind that steep banks around greens and bunkers can become extremely dangerous to mow during wet periods, even when done by hand. We evaluate these features daily to determine how and when to cut them.
Heres to a dry second half of the season!
Jake Ronchi GCS, BNGC