Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pump house down!

Last Friday nights storm with strong winds took down more than trees on the golf course, it took down our pumps!  Arriving at the course to survey the damage and to map out our clean up strategies, I soon learned after our 96 degree day on Friday our course went unirrigated last night.  No pumps means no water!  Arrgh!  Not good as little to no rain was recorded and another 90 degree day with strong winds and aridly dry air was in store.

You'll remember this storm had an impressive squall line on radar that passed through the area leaving most of central Wisconsin in the dark.  I remember it all too well as my homes interior temperature of 93 degrees matched that of outdoors.  The small window air conditioner used to "cool" the upstairs master bedroom and I use that term politely, was silent.  Not so cool!

A quick trip to the pump house confirmed the loss of power.  A quick call to the power company was greeted with "we'll put you on the list."  Oh boy I thought, how long would the wait be and I remember thinking "we're sure to lose some turf today" as most playing surfaces are being managed on the firm and dry side.  The linesmen from Water Works and Light were very fast in their response to reconnect us, but it was too late to run a course wide syringe program on greens, tees and fairways as the first nine holes of play was full on this busy holiday weekend.  We'll just have to take our lumps!  Just like the USGA's new mantra, "brown is the new green."  (How's that working for you?)

I returned to the course during the mid afternoon heat to survey course conditions and to manage the irrigation systems nightly watering program.  With water hose in hand I set out and what I found didn't surprise me as I found myself hand watering or syringing 16 of 19 greens in an attempt to keep the wilt in check on collars and putting surfaces.  I was in no hurry to rush home as I had a rack of Baby Back Ribs slowly roasting in the oven just waiting for their final touch on the charcoal grill. 

I had forgotten how peaceful the sound of water droplets falling on low cut turf was especially when you could bounce around between play.  I remembered my lessons and observations learned by hand watering greens and how I coin the phrase "watering to keep wet areas dry" when trying to teach others the art of hand watering.

I've seen the after effects of wilt knowing full well some area's would respond to the gift of moisture while others would go off color yellow.  I've always maintained it's better to have lost turf to moisture stress than to see it drown to death.  Moisture stressed turf goes dormant and will recover when favorable conditions return, dead turf does but it usually comes back as Poa.

Nor did it surprise me to see newly formed patches of hydrophobic soils now appear in my turf grass stands.  When you water at 60% of ET, there isn't a great margin of error there so the loss of one nights irrigation cycle sets you behind the eight ball.  To correct areas of hydrophobicity, a curative rate of wetting agents was applied.  Once again we are praying that predicted rains will materialize and Mother Nature will help us this time to wash the product into the soil were it is needed to do the job.  But I'm not betting she does her part.

Oh, by the way, the ribs were great!  I'm working on a wet/dry rub combo that delivers a nice crunch when eaten.  Grilling a turkey breast tonight... Later