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Andrew Buck

  • Karma: +0/-0
  • Im curious to know what the situation is in areas where the courses are shut through the winter.
  • Do such courses dry out so much during the main season that they need irrigation to keep the grass healthy or do they just need it to keep the visual appearance of the grass nice and green and lush?
  • As I say, just curious.
Atb

Not sure why there are numbers above. Must have touched an icon by mistake!
I think soil and climate are big factor here, but at the golf course I grew up on where my dad is superintendent it would close for the winter and be snow covered, open up lush in the spring and depending on the year conditions would change over the course of the summer depending on the year. 

In that particular case, dead grass was not reasonably playable.   

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1


Tom - how did the courses establish turf back in the day where there was no irrigation? Lots of hand watering during drown in? Longer grow-in time?


Whats the last course built w/out irrigation?


Much longer grow-ins!


As to the last question, some U.K. courses are still built without fairway irrigation.  In the US, I'm not sure when it was last done ... Pete Dye told me when he was starting out he wanted to follow in the footsteps of Bill Diddel, who refused to put in fairway irrigation on principle, but Diddel talked him out of it by saying it would kill his career.


When I was building High Pointe we didn't have working irrigation on all the holes in time to seed, and were debating whether to seed a few holes without it, or wait til the next spring.  I called Mr Dye for advice and he asked what I thought they did in the old days.  I relayed his advice to the superintendent:  "The seed doesn't grow in the barn." 😀

Kalen Braley

  • Karma: +0/-0
The cooler northern states I would think could do this, especially in Seattle or Portland where they get so much rain 8 months out of the year.


But for hot and dry climate, out in the western part of the US where I am....i can't envision any scenario where this would work.

James Brown

  • Karma: +0/-0
Still a fair number of mid-Atlantic/tidewater area courses have limited irrigation.  You still get some really bounce browned out conditions in years like this one.  The courses on the Outer Banks also have big water restrictions and get the same brown. 


I think the real answer to the original question is that so long as conditioning norms allow for summer brown out, its Ok to go towards these kind of conditions.  I think you get there slowly over time. 

Cal Seifert

  • Karma: +0/-0
Still a fair number of mid-Atlantic/tidewater area courses have limited irrigation.  You still get some really bounce browned out conditions in years like this one.  The courses on the Outer Banks also have big water restrictions and get the same brown. 


I think the real answer to the original question is that so long as conditioning norms allow for summer brown out, its Ok to go towards these kind of conditions.  I think you get there slowly over time.


Played a course called Seascape in the outer banks last week and it did not have fairway irrigation which lead to nice bouncy fairways. Only issue seemed to be that there was crabgrass throughout the fairways. Not sure if that has any relation though.

Alan FitzGerald CGCS MG

  • Karma: +0/-0
As mentioned the local climate is the biggest dictator of what would happen.


As for what would happen in an area where the grass species is tolerant to the climate. For example in the Philly/NY metro where it can get too hot for cool season grasses in the summer they would shut down and go dormant. There is a fine line between dormant and dead though and a lot depends on the health of the turf before it goes into that period. If it goes fully dormant it should come back although cart traffic etc has the potential to physically damage it. Lastly the length of the period of the drought will also have a factor in how the turf recovers.


The worst year I remember was 2010 when we had a long hot dry summer with a lot of irrigation restrictions. The course here all came back but other courses nearby had to seed/sod areas to come back fully. The risk/cost of drying it down fully all the time isn't worth it especially if reseeding etc results in course closures or restrictions later in the year.


As for what would it look like. The superintendent at Pasatiempo recorded in pictures what happened in the 2014 drought.


http://pasatiempomaintenance.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-drought-from-above.html


I thought I saw pictures in reverse of these somewhere too of the recovery (where a lot of it greened back up when it rained) but I can't find them and looking though the blog it looks like they did end up seeding.


June 2014



July 2014





September 2014


Golf construction & maintenance are like creating a masterpiece; Da Vinci didn't paint the Mona Lisa's eyes first..... You start with the backdrop, layer on the detail and fine tune the finished product into a masterpiece

Tim Martin

  • Karma: +0/-0
Highland Links in North Truro, Massachusetts has no fairway irrigation. It's fun to catch a couple of big bounces off the baked out turf on your tee shot and there are plenty of options on approaches.

A.G._Crockett

  • Karma: +0/-0
I think there are plenty of older golf courses in the US with little or no fairway irrigation.  Hillandale, in Durham, NC, just a few blocks from my house, has been there since 1916 with no fairway irrigation still today.
What happens is exactly what others have alluded to; lots of native grasses, including a lot of common bermuda, that become brown in the summer heat and drought, but manage just fine.  What there is NOT are uniform perfect lies in the fairways, EVER, any time of year, and that's probably the issue more than fears that there will be bare ground.
A number of years ago, after watching my lawn burn up in yet another blazing southern August, a friend and I were talking about that problem.  I made the statement, "When we were kids, we never seeded, fertilized, aerated, nothing, and we had green lawns all year.  What happened?"
His answer was, "We had clover and crabgrass; now you buy grass seed that is certified NOT to have "impurities" like clover."
And so it is with golf courses; the problem is not the absence of irrigation; rather it's the desire for perfect green uniformity and a great lie for your ball.  That's not a rant, or a good old days lament, or anything of the sort.  It's just what's happened, not only to golf courses, but to our lawns.
(And BTW, if you drive by my home, you'll see a yard where the homeowner will NEVER again throw grass seed, or fertilizer, or aerate, or even rake leaves.  We've planted a bunch of native shrubs for the honey bees, and the rest of it is whatever Mother Nature decides should be there.  I gave away my self-propelled Honda mower, and I use a me-propelled reel mower for the tiny patch of grass that's managing just fine on it's own, and I have a weedeater for when things get a bit unruly.  But that's all.)
"Golf...is usually played with the outward appearance of great dignity.  It is, nevertheless, a game of considerable passion, either of the explosive type, or that which burns inwardly and sears the soul."      Bobby Jones

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
I think there are plenty of older golf courses in the US with little or no fairway irrigation.  Hillandale, in Durham, NC, just a few blocks from my house, has been there since 1916 with no fairway irrigation still today.
What happens is exactly what others have alluded to; lots of native grasses, including a lot of common bermuda, that become brown in the summer heat and drought, but manage just fine.  What there is NOT are uniform perfect lies in the fairways, EVER, any time of year, and that's probably the issue more than fears that there will be bare ground.
A number of years ago, after watching my lawn burn up in yet another blazing southern August, a friend and I were talking about that problem.  I made the statement, "When we were kids, we never seeded, fertilized, aerated, nothing, and we had green lawns all year.  What happened?"
His answer was, "We had clover and crabgrass; now you buy grass seed that is certified NOT to have "impurities" like clover."



Yes, exactly.  What's missing from this discussion is that most of the golf courses today are not at all adapted to local conditions ... indeed, they are actively spending to eradicate plants like Poa annua and Common bermudagrass and fine fescues which might thrive without irrigation. 


[Poa annua will die ... but then it will come back by seed, because it is an annual ... and over time the most drought-tolerant plants will thrive.  Common bermuda will just shut down, and then come back when the rains come.  Same for fescue.]


Golf could exist in lots of locations, if we were willing to accept spottier conditions ... otherwise there would not and could not have been thousands of golf courses in America prior to 1930.

Randy Thompson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Fescue is similar to the bermuda when comparing drought induced dormancy but inferior. First, the fescue has to be mature and thats a slow process and depends on the soils, climatic conditions and management practices. Developing a healty root system and gradually inducing drought stress will increase the length of the time the plant can survive prolonged drought conditions. However, there is  limit and death can occur. The bermudas and kikyu dont seem to have any limits.

Tom Bacsanyi

  • Karma: +0/-0
Peruse the pictures on this course tour of Fishers as a starting point:


http://www.friedegg.co/golf-courses/fishers-island-club-review


Fishers is obviously not a parkland course, presumably has very good soils, and 100 years or so of grass species adaptation.  Your local parkland likely has clay soil and the grasses have never been exposed to significant periods time without irrigation.  My guess is it would be ugly as hell.  We're talking bunches of turf surrounded by bare earth, and in that bare earth, weeds.  Oh and if there's any cart traffic at all the fairways will quickly be simply dirt.  Not the nice tan dormant grass of Carnoutstie, but simply bare earth.


A better idea would be trying to establish an unirrigated ROUGH of cool season grass.  I've played a course in Northern Michigan that had this setup and it was super fun.  It ends up sort of looking like an overseeded bermuda course in winter, which is a much more aesthetic look, and actually allows for recovery and cart traffic and mowing and the like of the fairways.
Don't play too much golf. Two rounds a day are plenty.

--Harry Vardon

Mike_Young

  • Karma: +0/-0

Yes, exactly.  What's missing from this discussion is that most of the golf courses today are not at all adapted to local conditions ... indeed, they are actively spending to eradicate plants like Poa annua and Common bermudagrass and fine fescues which might thrive without irrigation. 

[Poa annua will die ... but then it will come back by seed, because it is an annual ... and over time the most drought-tolerant plants will thrive.  Common bermuda will just shut down, and then come back when the rains come.  Same for fescue.]

Golf could exist in lots of locations, if we were willing to accept spottier conditions ... otherwise there would not and could not have been thousands of golf courses in America prior to 1930.
Agree 100%.  Height of cut can solve many weed issues and if one has a good cut then it doesn't have to be a monostand to give one good golf.  I think the bigger issue is not the golf itself in the modern era but the real estate sales that are often related to having green conditions etc...
"just standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona"

Jon Wiggett

  • Karma: +0/-0

Mike,


anyone trying for a monostand with cold season grasses not only does not get agronomy but is wasting a lot of money on a fool's errand!

Kyle Harris

  • Karma: +0/-0

Mike,


anyone trying for a monostand with cold season grasses not only does not get agronomy but is wasting a lot of money on a fool's errand!
Jon,

Hope you don't mind my small, but acute, edits.

 :D
http://kylewharris.com

Constantly blamed by 8-handicaps for their 7 missed 12-footers each round.

Thank you for changing the font of your posts. It makes them easier to scroll past.

Jon Wiggett

  • Karma: +0/-0

Mike,


anyone trying for a monostand with cold season grasses not only does not get agronomy but is wasting a lot of money on a fool's errand!
Jon,

Hope you don't mind my small, but acute, edits.

 :D



Not at all Kyle. I put cool season because I have no real knowledge of warm season grasses.

Anthony_Nysse

  • Karma: +0/-0

Mike,


anyone trying for a monostand with cold season grasses not only does not get agronomy but is wasting a lot of money on a fool's errand!




Jon,

Hope you don't mind my small, but acute, edits.

 :D




Well, once a course is new or has been regrassed, I don't know too many memberships or owners that would prefer to just let "nature" take its course. We all have different marching orders, but whether its the use of chemicals to reduce poa in bent or bent in blue grass or other products on warm season grasses, most clubs would be disappointed to not be 95% "clean" after 5 years.


I played a very high end, well regarded course in the last year and was shocked to see how much contaminated and off types had been allowed in playing surfaces after just a few years, particular the putting surfaces.
Anthony J. Nysse
Director of Golf Courses & Grounds
Apogee Club
Hobe Sound, FL

George Pazin

  • Karma: +0/-0
Wasn't Maidstone one of the last hold outs without fairway irrigation? Did they ever end up installing it?


There are some mom and pops north of the Burgh that either don't have it, or don't use it. I find them rather enjoyable, but I'm weird.
Big drivers and hot balls are the product of golf course design that rewards the hit one far then hit one high strategy.  Shinny showed everyone how to take care of this whole technology dilemma. - Pat Brockwell, 6/24/04

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Wasn't Maidstone one of the last hold outs without fairway irrigation? Did they ever end up installing it?



Yes, and yes, sadly.


Maidstone, Newport, and Fishers Island were the three highly-rated courses in the U.S. that didn't have fairway irrigation.  [Fishers Island had it in certain spots of fairways, I believe, but not on every hole.]  I'm not sure if Newport still does without.

PCCraig

  • Karma: +0/-0
I played a very high end, well regarded course in the last year and was shocked to see how much contaminated and off types had been allowed in playing surfaces after just a few years, particular the putting surfaces.

Slightly off-topic, but one thing I've found charming on older golf courses is "finding" different strands of grass, particularly in the rough. It's something that was fairly well publicized when Merion hosted the US Open:

https://www.linksmagazine.com/a_simpler_game_perfectly_imperfect/

At my home course, I've found different patches of weed-looking grass around greens which I think adds a fun variety as when your ball sits in it you have to guess how it will react to the shot.

Of course, now that I read the above article about Merion and its imperfections, it makes me wonder why Gil Hanse is regrassing the entire course?  ???
H.P.S.

Jeff_Brauer

  • Karma: +0/-0

First (as Midwest Mashie participants will find out next week) Norther MN courses look at least like the June photo of Pasa, for different reasons.  Didn't reduce my enjoyment a few weeks ago, as I found myself thinking (as well as that June Pasa photo) this is what courses I grew up on in Chicago looked like in August!  Whats the BFD?


I'm with Randy on using what is called "checkbook" irrigation rather than a set schedule of X inches per night to get roots long.  IMHO, if watering were cut back, not eliminated, on a schedule that made the June Pasa photo the norm in the hottest days, most courses would be all right.  Or, brown is NOT the new green, mottled green is the new green.


My proposal is always to go back to early 1980's irrigation design.  Multiple rows, maybe coverage everywhere, but not the gawdawful pump station capacity to use every head every night.  Those systems were designed for fw to be watered every other night max, and take 7-8 hours to do it.  Pump stations in the south were 1500 GPM ( a bit small down south, but still prevalent in MN, etc.) but we got along more than fine at 1800 and 2100 GPM.  Now 2800-3000 GPM seems more typical to water every where, every night and in only 6 hours to let it dry out before 6AM mowing.  Huge cost, is it necessary?


I grant that the better looking mottled areas of Pasa in June 2014 are probably a bit less than most golfers want, and the watering bar would be set to keep the worst areas as the best areas look in that photo (but not the lower all brown portion)  I still believe it would reduce water and electric consumption from typical watering schedules now.


It will be over 100 here in DFW again today.  Doubt many will play, so with longer water windows, this unique need to put out up to 2" this week (vs. average of 1" max) could be accomplished by starting earlier and shutting parts of the course down without losing too much revenue (certainly not more than the daily debt burden of a $2M system)


I asked an old super what the big problem would be in running sprinklers mid day.  His answer: Old dudes running through the sprinklers naked to cool off.  Well, maybe that IS too big a price to pay for water conservation.....
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Anthony_Nysse

  • Karma: +0/-0
I played a very high end, well regarded course in the last year and was shocked to see how much contaminated and off types had been allowed in playing surfaces after just a few years, particular the putting surfaces.

Slightly off-topic, but one thing I've found charming on older golf courses is "finding" different strands of grass, particularly in the rough. It's something that was fairly well publicized when Merion hosted the US Open:

https://www.linksmagazine.com/a_simpler_game_perfectly_imperfect/

At my home course, I've found different patches of weed-looking grass around greens which I think adds a fun variety as when your ball sits in it you have to guess how it will react to the shot.

Of course, now that I read the above article about Merion and its imperfections, it makes me wonder why Gil Hanse is regrassing the entire course?  ???



The bentgrass stands a much better chance of getting through the summers in Philly than the poa..
Anthony J. Nysse
Director of Golf Courses & Grounds
Apogee Club
Hobe Sound, FL

Jon Wiggett

  • Karma: +0/-0


I played a very high end, well regarded course in the last year and was shocked to see how much contaminated and off types had been allowed in playing surfaces after just a few years, particular the putting surfaces.



Anthony,


just out of interest how did they play?

Anthony_Nysse

  • Karma: +0/-0


I played a very high end, well regarded course in the last year and was shocked to see how much contaminated and off types had been allowed in playing surfaces after just a few years, particular the putting surfaces.



Anthony,


just out of interest how did they play?



The coarser areas of 419 putted much differently than the ultradwaft. The spraying of growth regulators & amendments certainly made them stand out more, too. Obviously, a UD and 419 need vastly different growth regulators rates.
Anthony J. Nysse
Director of Golf Courses & Grounds
Apogee Club
Hobe Sound, FL

Jon Wiggett

  • Karma: +0/-0


I played a very high end, well regarded course in the last year and was shocked to see how much contaminated and off types had been allowed in playing surfaces after just a few years, particular the putting surfaces.








Anthony,


just out of interest how did they play?



The coarser areas of 419 putted much differently than the ultradwaft. The spraying of growth regulators & amendments certainly made them stand out more, too. Obviously, a UD and 419 need vastly different growth regulators rates.



Then the invasive species was also sown but in other areas. I had assumed that it was native species so my mistake. Why not use grasses that have similar characteristics in the various parts of the course?

MClutterbuck

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The Eastern US Courses around 35 degree latitude with Common or even some Hybrid Bermudas should do fine. Great to play in dormant bermuda. 


The issue is that wear and tear does get much worse around certain high traffic areas when grass is dormant, and if then you get sudden rain on clay based soil, you end up with a mud problem, that gets worse and worse over time.


I think light irrigations are better because of this problem.


Randy, in your comparison of fescue and bermuda, I do have to note that if you have a very dry late summer, and then cool weather and rain, your bermuda will not recover, and you will have a muddy mess all winter. Fescue instead will grow instantly once ir rains (or even with fall due) and into much colder season.




 

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