Friday, July 6, 2012

Extreme Heat and Golf Carts

Many area courses are restricting cart traffic during extreme heat.  A few photos from this morning show why.  On days of extreme heat, grass plants are so stressed that simply driving over them causes death.  This type of damage usually occurs during the middle of the day when conditions are the most uncomfortable for people and plants. 
If your local golf course is restricting cart use, please understand they are trying to save the course for the rest of the year.  Tire tracks like this take a long time to heal:
Riding carts and extreme heat causes turf damage on golf course fairway
July 6

Tire tracks from riding carts and extreme heat causes turf damage on golf course fairway
July 6
In these areas, I measured soil temperatures at a 2 inch depth close to 100 degrees on July 4 and 5.  Healthier areas of fairway were 94 degrees.  Soil composition and characteristics very widely on our fairways so it is impossible to tell without a probe where the hot spots are.
In most areas, the course is holding up to the heat but areas are starting to run out of energy reserves and root mass.  100 degree soil temperatures literally cooks the cells of cool season grass plants.  Our fairways are the most sensitive due to how they were built and the soil they were built on.  They also contain a fairly high percentage of Poa annua or annual bluegrass.  In most areas the soil is heavy clay mixed with pulverised concrete and asphalt.  As you can imagine, they tend to heat up fast.

Sugar Creek Golf Course #8 Fairway
July 6
The grounds crew is very busy trying to keep as much turf alive as possible through this period of record high temperatures.  You may also see hand watering or irrigation heads running to cool the turf.  The purpose of this "syringing" is to cool the plants through evaporation -- not to wet the soil.  This practice works only in certain circumstances and must be employed carefully.  During these hot periods, too much water is just as bad as too little. 
See more posts about heat stress and turf.

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