Saturday, July 13, 2013

Burnt or Brown

The golf course has taken on the "summer look".  What is that exactly?  Well, I mean we have a lot of brown  grass on the golf course which is pretty uncommon most of the year.  Usually it's only during the summer that you see brown grass on the golf course, but right now there is quite a bit of brown grass that we normally don't see.  Specifically, the bunker edges have gotten very brown in some areas.  Above you see the bunker left of 18 green, and below you see the bunker right of 18 green.  I would say the left side bunker has just the right amount of brown, but there is no question, the bunker on the right is beyond brown, and maybe you would call it burnt.
This bunker edge, faces south and thus sees the suns highest amount of intensity.  Up close you see that once burnt, the turf quality gets so low that there isn't much turf present at all.
That spot below Boo is beyond brown or dormant,  it is burnt and recovery will be slow even once the rains return.
The same applies to this area on the left of #1
And this area also which is on the left of #3.  This area isn't even really a south facing slope.  So why is this burnt up so badly?  Simply put, lack of establishment.  I remember last year we saw the same kind of damage on our new bunkers.  Those bunkers we built in May so there was very little time for the turf to establish before the onset of the dry summer months.
For example, above you see one of the small bunkers fronting the 16th green.  This picture was taken yesterday and as you can see the turf quality is fine, although last summer, it was burnt down to nothing because it was new and not established.   
Again, look here at the bunker right of #6.  This bunker was built last year and now has an entire winter and spring under it's belt.  It is well established, and right now you can see just little spots of brown turf but yet very good quality turf because it is only brown and dormant, not burnt.
 Here is another pic of the same bunker from a different angle showing some nice brown grass.  This is the great thing about using fescue on the bunker faces.  Even when brown and dormant, the turf quality is excellent.  Now check out some of the bunkers we completed last fall.  These bunkers had the benefit of overwintering and had the entire spring to establish themselves before summer set in. 
How gorgeous is this bunker face on #7..............................
or this beauty on #12.
This monstrous tandem of bunkers on 7 & 16 has only nice brown areas and no burnt, toasted turf.
All of the bunkers built before Christmas and the frozen month of January look really good right now.  They had a fair amount of time to establish.
This bunker on #8 is the brownest of the mature bunkers.  Again, it was built before winter, and had a good establishment period, but because of the south facing edge, it has gotten really brown, but it is not burnt yet.  It is really dormant, but because it was well established, it is just dormant and turf quality is still excellent.  
Here is a close up of that brown area.
And here is a close up of the area on 18 which is more burnt looking and beyond dormant.
Can you see the difference?.................Again, this is a situation that I don't think you will see much of in the future.  As our new bunkers mature, the fescue eyebrows will become much more established and I believe in the future, we will only see these areas get nice and brown in spots which is a great look, and the turf quality will remain very high, even during the hottest, driest months.  I think a blog post next year at this same time would be a good idea, as then we can look back at these pictures and make a good comparison.
Now those of you that are members might be asking, "what's the deal with the brown, burnt greens"?  Above is a picture of #8 taken yesterday.  When the sun is shining, the greens look fine but up close you can see there is definitely something not good.
Some of the Poa types have turned brown and look like they are dying.  The look of death is by far the worst on #8 and this close up is of one of the worst spots I could find on #8.   But let's look even closer.
Yes there is a lot of brown leaf blades, but there is also a lot of green ones.  This burnt look is only a "tip burn" and it will go away very soon as the turf grows out of it.  This might happen quicker on someone else's  Poa greens, but because I also whacked em with a good shot of growth regulator when I burned them, it will be a little slower to grow out of it.  That's okay because right now we don't want them to grow fast.  Green speed is the most important thing to me and for those of you that know me, you know I really don't care too much how they look.  I manage turf as a playing surface.  How it plays is much more important than how it looks.  Some of the greens have this tip burn, please don't worry about it. Why are they "tip burned"? Our last fertilizer application was a little hot, meaning I had a little too much nitrate nitrogen in the mix.  Not to make excuses, but I will when I say the day we sprayed the greens, the weather man said it would reach 75 degrees when actually it hit 85.   I really don't like that weather guy some times.  But that just goes to show you that sometimes we ride a very fine line out here with our chemical applications.  In this case, we rode a very, very fine line.  The greens sprayed in the early morning hours are fine, but those that were sprayed at about 10 - 11am are a little tip burned.  If you are upset that I burned them a little, then I am sorry, but again, I manage playing surfaces, NOT LAWNS!  The greens are playing quite well this morning, and I hope you are enjoying the golf course.

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