Challenges of Growing Turfgrass in the Summer of 2018

Over the summer, the Philadelphia region had some atypical weather which has caused a more than normal amount of turfgrass death on golf courses. The region had above average rainfall in August and September. During the month of August, the 30-year average for rain is about four inches, but this August it rained 20 inches. This trend continued in September with 10 inches of rain while the historic average is also about four inches. One local superintendent had nine floods onto his course in August and September.

During this period, soils were saturated longer than normal and there were periods of high humidity with nighttime temperatures greater than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. These conditions are a plant pathologist’s dream but a superintendent’s nightmare. Warm weather diseases such as brown patch, dollar spot, Pythium blight and gray leaf spot were more aggressive and persisted longer than normal, which was a main cause of turf death. Even the best fungicide programs could not overcome the combination of abiotic stress (i.e., persistent hot and wet weather, and low light conditions from cloud cover) and high disease pressure.

mowing grass when too wet

These weather conditions also contributed to delays with mowing and other agronomic tasks, and then having to get equipment out before turf areas properly dried-down often resulted in scalping and mechanical turf damage. Because of the prolonged saturated soil conditions, many superintendents said, “…the turf (rootzone) never got a chance to drain.” And using a wetting agent, under these extreme conditions, would not necessarily help, because, as also noted by superintendents, “…where’s the water going to go?” As the late Dr. Burt Musser is credited with saying, the three most important aspects of turf management are “…drainage, drainage, and drainage.”

These conditions persisted until the third week of September. Normally, between mid-August and mid-September, superintendents are busy aerating, topdressing, seeding, and sleeping well at night because night time temperatures drop below 70 and grass thrives. Instead, superintendents were making additional fungicide applications, cleaning up flood damage, fixing bunker washouts, and waiting to mow soggy turf areas. Finally, by the third week of September, some were able to start seeding and sodding damaged areas but were running out of daylight as days are getting shorter and the sun angle is getting lower.

In addition, the higher than normal rainfall and warm conditions resulted in quicker than normal breakdown of pre-emergence herbicides used to prevent crabgrass. Thus, there was plenty of crabgrass breakthrough and, in many areas, goosegrass became a problem. Another weed that thrived this summer was yellow nutsedge. Finding a dry time to apply post-emergence herbicides added to the difficulty in controlling those weeds, and, in most cases, a follow-up application was needed.

This summer was also difficult for superintendents to provide normal green speeds, firmness and trueness. Lift, clean, and place were the norm rather than the exception on fairways. Even courses with the larger or more generous budgets struggled with all of the above.

Fortunately, most golf course superintendents rise to the challenges that Mother Nature brings their way. With some extra seeding and sodding and some warm fall temperatures, there is a good chance the turf should be fully recovered by mid-spring.

Doug Linde, PhD
Professor of Turf Management
Delaware Valley University

Mike Fidanza, PhD
Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences
Penn State University

Urgent: Golf Course Notification

Click here for Link to PDF file:
GC_Notification_SeptOct2018

Golf Course Notification

The golf season of 2018 will be remembered by superintendents across the Mid-Atlantic as one of the wettest and most challenging years in memory. As fall arrives, growing conditions have not improved. While fall is usually a time for turf recovery, this fall is proving the opposite as many turf areas continue to decline. Saturated soil conditions persist, humidity levels are high, and disease pressure remains constant. Many courses throughout the region have experienced record-setting rainfall, as this year rain was measured in inches, not tenths of inches.

Disease outbreaks of dollar spot, gray leaf spot, and brown patch are being widely reported. Because of all the rain and favorable disease conditions, fungicides are less effective, causing many to re-apply more often. Furthermore, saturated soils make it very challenging to get a spray rig on the course or even complete the most basic daily mowing tasks. Saturated soils do not allow proper air- exchange in the soil, creating an anaerobic environment for plant roots. Likewise, these conditions increase turf’s vulnerability to any type of traffic, even regular daily play.

Because of these challenges, many playing surfaces were compromised throughout the year, and in most cases this turf loss is a combination of factors that are beyond the control of course managers. Even where all necessary and feasible adjustments were made to protect the playing surfaces, losing turf during 2018 has simply proven inevitable. And as the year comes to an end, it is possible some areas will need further attention in spring 2019, as the fall “window” for recovery is closing. In fact, in many areas the recovery “window” was never open because of the poor weather.

Superintendents always want to provide playing conditions that are the best for our golfing community. This year was an extreme example of weather dictating certain golf course management practices. Even if the weather cooperates for the rest of fall, it will take time to put courses back together. Please remain patient.

Thank you for your time and consideration regarding this matter.

Sincerely,

Chase Rogan, M.S.

Field Staff, Mid-Atlantic Regional Representative GCSAA

Bentgrass Sod For Sale

Springwood Golf Club in York, PA, is changing names to Bridgewater Golf Club and is being reduced to nine holes, leaving nine holes of L93 Bentgrass sod available for purchase.

Price: $0.25 per square foot, purchaser responsible for cutting and transporting
Contact: Dan Baker, PGA Professional, 717-440-6032/Dan Baker <dbaker@bridgewatergolfclub.com>

Bent Green (2)

Mother Nature Does it Again: Philly BLUE-OUT Special Moved to May 2

pin
Hopefully one week does the trick! The Philly BLUE-OUT Special will now be held Wednesday, May 2, 2018. All other details remain the same. Click here for information.

If you are already registered and still plan to attend, there is nothing further you need to do. If you are registered and cannot now attend the new date, please notify the office: kliebsch@pagcs.org.

If you are not registered and would like to attend the new date, Weds., May 2, please click here for registration.

All other details remain the same for this fantastic event!
Philly Blue-Out Special–Joint Meeting with CPGCSA and PTGA
Be sure to wear blue!
Date: Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Location: Middletown Country Club
Shotgun: 11 a.m.
Reception: immediately after golf
A portion of each registration will be
donated to the Els for Autism Foundation

Spring Delayed; So is “Bonnie” — another sneak peak

So, in the spirit of the delayed Spring of 2018, we held up the first issue of The Bonnie Greensward for a last minute contribution. Watch your inbox tonight or tomorrow for this very special season starter, all 40 pages of it! In the meantime, let’s take another sneak peak at one of the special features in this issue.

In a moment of good fortune, PAGCS member Andrew Green unearthed a classic article from the USGA Green Section Record announcing the career start of the industry’s beloved Stan Zontek. Below are a couple of excerpts to entertain you as you wait for the full story.

… No friendlier such face has been shown in this region than Stanley J. Zontek. Stan was an institution in Philadelphia and the greater Mid-Atlantic. He served for over 40 years as a USGA Green Section Agronomist, impacting countless turf lives over that period. We lost Stan in 2012, after a brief illness. His death rocked the turf community and left a void of support that is impossible to overcome …

… “He was like a superhero…armed with a camera bag and a soil profiler/probe. His superpower was genuine care for the game and people. He had instant credibility with members and blended storytelling, technical knowledge, and club politics like no one I have ever known. He was a shining example of how we should be in this business.”

Wonder what Stan would have to say about this year’s weather so far?

So This is Spring….Spring Issue of “The Bonnie” to Hit Inboxes this Week!

Here’s a little preview of what you will find in the upcoming issue of The Bonnie Greensward.

From the Desks of Drs. Mike Fidanza and Doug Linde …
This year, March went out like a wet, cold lamb. The Farmer’s Almanac actually predicted a prolonged winter for Pennsylvania, but did not predict an Eagles Super Bowl win or a Villanova NCAA victory.

Right now, the region is facing turf that is more saturated than normal for this time of year, due to a winter and early spring replete with regular snows and rains and short on sunny, windy days. As this is being typed, more torrential rains are pounding the PAGCS office window. As a result of the weather and soil conditions, regular maintenance practices, such as aerification, have been delayed, and even routine course maintenance is stymied because it could cause “self-inflicted” turf injury that will impact turf health and playing conditions later in the season.

Meanwhile, Bentgrass is still sleeping, and Poa annua seedheads are delayed, along with crabgrass germination. The forsythia that started to bloom in the last week of March has paused briefly but will soon resume full color display. Later this April, forsythia’s flowers should start to wither and fall away, and that’s nature’s way of telling us that minimum soil temperature near the surface is approaching about 55 F. Three or four consecutive days at that soil temperature, combined with good soil moisture, will get crabgrass seed germinating… More to come in the Spring Issue of The Bonnie.

spring thaw iron lakes shane miller

The spring thaw at Iron Lakes, courtesy of Shane Miller

PAGCS 2018 Calendar Takes Shape

The 2018 calendar is full of exciting themes, tournaments, and venues. Here’s what we know right now, and we look forward to seeing you for a very special day at Middletown Country Club on April 25 as we kick off 2018.

— May 2: The Philly Blue-Out Special, supporting autism awareness and
the Ernie Els Organization, in Philly Style at Middletown Country Clubpin

— May 21: our Annual Scholarship Benefit Tournament and Pig Roast at
Turtle Creek Golf Club

— June 11: The PAGCS Member-Member Tournament at
White Clay Creek Country Club

— July 16: The PAGCS Member-Guest at Applecross Country Club

— Sept 17: PAGCS benefit event for The Wee One Foundation at
Manufacturers’ Golf & Country Club

— Oct 15: The PAGCS Golf Championship at
Jericho National Golf Club

— Nov 5: PAGCS Annual Meeeting at
Stonewall

— Dec 20: PAGCS Annual Toy Drive and Christmas Party at
Barnaby’s Havertown

Vote For Cesar!

Head on over to the Lebanon booth [number 6069] at the Golf Industry Show next week and vote for Cesar as part of the Dog Days of Golf Calendar contest. If he wins, we win: That’s $3,000 for the PAGCS. Rumor has it, you might even get to pet a live pup and meet a war veteran. Now that’s a win-win.


Cesar is a 5-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog who spends his days at Biderman Golf Club in Wilmington, Delaware. Cesar is enjoying his first year in the turf industry with his owner, intern Dave Ward. Cesar feels right at home especially during the fall and winter seasons! His long coat is not suited for the hot summer days in the Mid-Atlantic. Instead he waits for the crew on the cool cement floors, greeting them with a smile after their hard work and exhausting days. Long before Dave joined the Bidermann team, Cesar loved to chase geese, deer, squirrels, and a variety of waterfowl. Now, Cesar gets to enjoy his passion every day on the golf course.

David Ward is a first year member of the GCSAA and an intern of the Bidermann Golf Club. Under the tutelage of Superintendent Jon Urbanski, Dave has grown in the discipline and knowledge of the turf industry. Dave will be returning in the Fall of 2017 to Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management Program for his final semester and is looking forward to his future career in the industry.

As part of the Lebaonon/GCSAA sponsored event, the winning dog earns $3,000 for the local chapter [let’s make it the PAGCS!], $500 cash prize for the dog and owner, and $2,000 goes to K9 for Warriors.

(Photo by Charles Lonergan)

PTC Rounds for Turfgrass–Donations Needed

Rounds for Turfgrass is an initiative where golf facilities can partner with the Pennsylvania Turfgrass Council to sell rounds of golf with the proceeds dedicated for research. These rounds will be bid on and sold at the Philadelphia Golf Expo, to be held Feb. 9-11, 2018, in Oaks, PA. Thousands of golf enthusiasts attend this show each year. They are the end users in the golf industry and potentially future customers or members for participants.

2018 PTC Rounds for Turfgrass(1).

The Pennsylvania Turfgrass Council over the last fifty years has been committed to the financial support of turf research at Penn State University. Since its inception, the council has raised more than 3.5 million dollars for research at the Joseph Valentine Turf Research Facility. This funding has helped to develop better turf varieties, control measures for disease and insect resistance, cutting edge technology to produce the best playing surfaces possible. Turf managers and superintendents depend on Penn State to help develop the tools and solutions of tomorrow.

Facilities can set the parameters including number of players, carts, amenities and the value of their donation. A letter explaining the details of the donation will be on display at the show for golf enthusiasts to bid on.

Donations can be emailed in PDF format to Andrew Dooley at andrewd@berkshirecountryclub.org or hard copies of donations can be mailed care of Andrew Dooley:
Berkshire Country Club
1637 Bernville Road
Reading PA 19601