Although the mornings have been cold without the rain and clouds, the weather this December has been great for playing golf with bright sunny days. The only obstacle is the minor threat of frost in the mornings, but we have managed to dodge any major frost delays for the past several weeks. Last December we had nearly 16-inches of rain for the month…still only .10″ has been recorded this year. The irrigation system has been running periodically throughout the month and it hurts the budget to pay for water when normally it would fall from the sky for free. Sure, it has been dry like this before, but the previous driest December was in 1989. Prior to that, you have to go all the way back to 1876 to have witnessed a December with a .10″ of rain or less. Since we are at the mercy of the city water department, if the pattern does not change as we get closer to spring we could be looking at another summer of mandatory water restrictions. Another negative aspect is that there are several areas to establish with native grass seed. While we are still seeding, these areas do not have any irrigation installed. The seeds depend solely on the rain to germinate and grow. The native areas that have been established also rely on the rain to begin their regrowth cycle. If it had been raining, the grasses would all be green right now. Most of the time, the climate has a way of balancing itself out and rain will hopefully fall in the coming months. In the meantime, enjoy the golf course and the warm mild days.
One of the greatest challenges in golf course maintenance is creating consistent playing conditions on a daily basis. The goal of the maintenance team is to create consistent conditioning year-round and keep in mind there is much more that goes into the science of maintaining quality turfgrass other than just watering, mowing, and fertilizing. Factor in the curve balls that Mother Nature throws our way (rain in the winter, hot spells during the summer) and conditioning can change significantly from one day to the next. The winter months can be the most challenging as one might come to play on a 70-degree day only to find carts restricted to path, fairways soggy in spots, and greens that putt slower than normal. The golf course consists of a living plant and weather plays a major factor in the conditioning of the golf course. While we are mowing the greens at the same height of cut as we did during the summer, they play differently due to fluctuating weather events. You may remember that several weeks back the greens were too fast due to consecutive days of frost and afternoon wind. Those two extremes inhibit growth, dry out the putting surface and create lightening fast greens…again even if we are cutting at the same height as the summer. During the past two weeks the golf course has benefited from favorable weather conditions, causing a growth spurt especially in the grass around the greens and bunkers. There is a lot of grass out there right now, but that indicates the health of the course is optimal and the maintenance team has been working diligently to ensure the course is kept playable throughout the winter months.