What do toques, parka's, long underwear, swim suits, sunscreen and central air all have in common?
All have been used at Sawmill Creek this past week.
Up and down, back and forth, this is the story of our weather so far this year. We are on the verge of snow one day, and the next, battling a hot, dry wind.
If there is one constant however, it is the fact that it is incredibly dry for the end of May.
Really, really dry.
Now dry is a good thing in the turf world, as being dry, does not halt progress. We get equipment out onto the course, we can work on projects such as bunker edging, as has been the case. We can really be quite productive when it is dry. We can control the moisture at this point, especially when your pump station and irrigation system is cooperating (which it is!).
What does concern me though, is how dry it is, this early. Our water supplies are not endless. We are limited by both our ability to take a certain amount of water as per our Permit to Take Water through the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, but also simply by how much (or little depending on how you look at it) water we can store on site.
What does this mean, and how does it translate to playing conditions you may ask?
Well, it means that we have to be frugal with our water at this point. We must be smart, and we must be efficient. It means we are going to sacrifice a nice lush green look in the fairways, for a little less green, fast and firm surface. It means your drives may increase from 250 yards in length, to maybe 275 yards.
It also means that we are going to experience, and not panic over, our greens looking like this:
Is it as visually stunning as what we've all been accustomed to over the past two decades? No. But I can tell you, it is certainly not dead, and it plays very nicely.
Our fairways will also be subjected to the same fate. On my tour of the course this morning, you could see the evidence of a stuck green side head on #7 from a week ago. This particular head had run continuously for several hours, before finally shutting off. What ensued was a river running down the fairway, which effectively watered the fairway quite deeply. You can see exactly where the river ran...and you can also see the difference in the turf on the right side of the photo, and how dry it remains...
As a turf manager, I have an arsenal of products at my disposal to help combat pests, aid in growth habits (promoting and reducing vertical growth), among other things. It can be difficult at times ensuring that the products we use, are being effective or efficient, and accomplishing the tasks that we are expecting them to target.
One of the ways in which we can monitor effectiveness, is to create a check-plot. A check plot is an area of turf that we do not apply these products to, so we can monitor the growth habit of the turf, having not received the products that the other areas have. It gives us some data, and coupled with our weather records, allows us the ability to analyze its effectiveness. This essentially allows us to determine the bang for buck that we receive on our purchases and applications.
I have set up an area on the 15th apron, to serve as a check plot. Over the course of the year, you may see some odd and funny things happening in this spot, but no matter what happens, good or bad, this spot will help teach us a lot about how our turf reacts to the variances of both weather, and inputs.
As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading!