The week of July 4th, 2012, is not one we are going to forget any time soon. It started with 1.5 inches of rain and a violent wind storm on Sunday afternoon. Power was knocked out in the area for at least a day -- many days for some residents. To add insult to injury, a heat wave set in making the work of clean-up crews uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. At Sugar Creek, the crew quickly went from storm clean-up on Monday and Tuesday to trying to cool extremely hot turf the rest of the week.
The wind storm on July 1st left the course covered in debris. Most of the greens looked like this:
|5 Green - July 1, 2012|
The storm brought down many large limbs that had to be cut up and chipped. 4 fairway in particular was covered in limbs from the large Cottonwoods on that hole.
|4 Fairway - July 1, 2012|
On the 9th tee, the wind knocked over a Norway Spruce. Spruce are shallow rooted in clay soil and can be pushed over in heavy winds. We were successful in standing this tree back up, but it may still decline from the loss of roots on one side.
|Norway Spruce on 9th tee|
This poor Bald Cypress had its top taken off. It has a vertical branch that looks like it will turn into a new leader. It will have a "unique" shape but will survive.
|Bald Cypress on 6th fairway|
The rain came down so hard that it washed out all of the sandtraps. Events like these are why our sand has become mixed with debris and clay from the top edge of the trap. I was just reading an article that stated: "Principle one is that no surface water should enter the trap. Of all principles in sand trap construction, this one is paramount" (Daniel, Golf Superintendent). The designers and builders of our sand traps must not have read that article. To be fair, I'm sure they were aware of the surface water issue but sometimes visual impact, construction cost, and placement of the hazard are put before playability, maintenance cost, life span, and reality.
|July 1, 2012|
The grounds crew had the course playable by Monday morning at 6:30 am using a combination of mowers, blowers, chainsaws, tractors, rakes, and pitchforks. Tree work continued into Tuesday, but then it was time to turn our attention to the extreme heat on July 4th, 5th, and 6th. Around 3pm each day, I measured 2 inch soil temperatures over 100 degrees in our historically weakest areas. The underlying soil in these areas was still moist from the 1.5 inches of rain on Sunday so lack of water was not the issue. Cool season grass roots simply cease to function at these temperatures. All we could do is syringe these areas carefully to cool them down. Syringing lowered the canopy temperatures in these areas to 94 degrees temporarily. Not great, but an improvement over 100.
You know the turf is under extreme stress when your footprints stick in previously very healthy turf:
|Stressed turf - July 6, 2012|
Below Gary is syringing, or misting, stressed portions of fairway. Last week, we were hand watering dry soil and drought stressed turf with high flow nozzles meant to re-wet dry soil. This week, we are using misting nozzles to cool the turf through evaporation and perhaps get the plant to take in small amounts of water during this cooler period. The cooling effect lasts only a short period of time. Significant effects are gone after 15 minutes but this can be enough to get some turf through the stress period.
|Gary syringing #1 fairway|
This picture was taken on July 6th at 1pm in the shade! I would expect this temperature when solar radiation was added to the mix, but I was surprised to see temperatures over 100 degrees in healthy turf with some shade during mid-day.
One thing is for sure: Next week will be just as busy at Sugar Creek. With cooler weather, we can take steps to speed up the recovery process on tees and fairways through cautious solid tine aerification and irrigation practices. We have to be careful not to do more harm than good in our attempts to help the turf recover.
We are definitely thankful for this forecast. Especially the night time lows in the 60's. Looks like a beautiful week for golf -- and turf recovery: