THAT'S A FIRST
In the 4 years I have been here at Capel, I have never had to turn the pumps on to water anything during winter. Normally from the first decent rains in May / June through to September / October the pumps remain idle as the combination of colder temperatures and regular rainfall (winter is our wet season) mean evaporation is very low and generally there is enough soil moisture between regular rain / shower events not to have to worry about watering.
This week was a first, we fired up the pumps to give the greens a light handwater, no sprinklers, just a nice controlled amount by handwatering to deliver some moisture to the root zone of the bent grass.
We were forced into this unprecedented step by the lack of rainfall this month, only 48mm of rain so far compared to the average of 148mm, in fact we are heading for our driest July on record. Rain is predicted for next Tuesday and Wednesday, but it was just a little to long away to wait for.
Now before I go on, in case you are getting the urge to turn on your retic system, I highlight that we do have a winter sprinkler ban in place, we have not watered the couch grass tees or fairways nor will we be, we handwatered the greens only without sprinklers and only a controlled amount applied to turf that is being cut at 2.5mm not like home lawns, responsible water use is the responsibility of all of us.
The lack of rainfall is a concern for recharging the groundwater and dams whilst my fingers are crossed that a repeat of 2010 with the dry end to winter meant an earlier start to the irrigation season and the pressure it put on our allocation for the whole of summer that year does not eventuate.
There is a bright side tho, with the lack of rainfall comes conditions most enjoyed by players, the course is playing firm and fast, the greens running at 12 1/2 to 13 feet testament to that, not to mention the beautiful afternoon conditions for golf.
The other huge positive for the maintenance staff is the drier conditions have meant we have been able to stress out the Poa (winter grass) in the greens more so than normal without effecting the Bent grass and along with products applied to gradually control the Poa give the bent a competitive advantage at a time it usually is playing second fiddle to the shade and wet loving Winter grass. With its shallow roots, the winter grass is the first to suffer during times like this and the bent can and does start to fill in even tho it is slow growing at the moment.In the picture below you can see the combined effect of the products applied and the drier conditions stunting the winter grass growth while the bent is slowly filling in.