And on the 8th day he flicked the switch

Finally after the longest 8 days of my career we can irrigate!!!
The pipe repaired, the concrete set, some issues with repair sorted, the system flushed and pressurised, tested and monitored...... now we bloody water everything!!!!!!!

I am not ashamed to admit the past 8 days probably rank up there with the most stressful periods of my professional turf career. Many thanks to Peter Dillon for his assistance handwatering and Mick Templemen for chasing up the phone calls which left me free to attend the course. Also to the staff for the great job they have done altering work hours etc to make sure we got through this in the best condition possible.

All things considered the course has held up well, the Tees remain healthy, Fairways have quite a few dry patch areas but should recover quickly, and the most important we haven't lost any area of greens, however they will need to be closely monitored and maintenance practices altered for the rest of summer as will be explained below.
The green surrounds are the worst effected with potential turf loss in large areas, these areas are mainly Rye grass areas, heavily shaded or in high traffic areas, we will see how these areas respond to irrigation before we take further steps which will include assessing the continued use of this turf species in these locations and also consideration to other factors such as rerouting traffic, tree proximity's etc.

Now we turn from damage control to recovery and also be mindful of a few issues that are not evident now but have taken place under the soil, the all important root zone.

Bent grass greens are difficult to manage in summer at the best of times, as explained here click here our primary objective leading into summer is to have the greens going into this stressful period in the healthiest condition possible with deep functional roots to sustain growth and tolerate summer stress,  we achieved that prior to summer and part of the reason the greens have survived the lack of irrigation for 8 days with some very high temperatures without loss so far, however the battle for the greens has only just begun. The root depth and health of the greens turf has suffered and will be less tolerant to stresses such as disease, pests, heat, moisture along with wear from traffic, mowing and also less tolerant of herbicides with increased risk of injury from products normally considered safe to use.
We have already applied wetting agents to overcome any hydrophobic problems the lack of water has caused, alternate mow days will continue for the foreseeable future, we will compress our preventative fungicide application, and herbicide application to the front 9 greens will be restricted, this will mean crab grass and saltene control will be effected. Light spoon feeding applications of fertiliser will be applied 7 daily to improve health, constant monitoring of root health will be a priority.
Another option should the greens "harden" up as we have noticed when changing holes, will be needle tining this will allow air into the profile to provide oxygen for roots to breath.

Recovery work for green surrounds has commenced initially through applications of wetting agents and irrigation, we wait for the response and see how much comes back naturally and by the end of the week we will have decided to either seed these areas after coring or transition the areas back to couch grass, areas will remain roped off to reduce traffic.

Fairway recovery will consist of wetting agent application and irrigation, these areas will start to recover immediately a scheduled light application of fertiliser will encourage the process.

Tees have come through excellently and will require minimal recovery work.

For tees and fairways Dollar spot will become a severe issue with conditions over the past 2 days humid nights and how we were forced to water favouring development.

I hope you find this informative and answers your questions regarding how we plan to recover areas.

In another post I will answer some questions relating to the  main line break I have received.

An interesting statistic over the last 8 days, the average daily evapotranspiration rate (measure of moisture loss through evaporation and plant use) was approx. 6.8mm, we were replacing that loss by handwatering on average with 600L tanks per green which applies only 1.5mm equivalent precipitation to our averaged sized green, as you can see there is a huge discrepancy of 42.4mm over the week. 

I am not one to dwell on negatives so to finish off I would like to concentrate on the positives, one of the biggest positives was the remarkable resilience the tees and greens have shown so far, last summer was the first summer our long time members can remember never to have lost turf on greens, even under the stress of the last 8 days no turf loss as yet resulted a very good indication of the health of the greens and the success of maintenance programs implemented over the last few years.

The fairway area of the front 9 is 6Ha only a small proportion of that area has been effected, the vast majority of turf area remains very healthy and vigorously growing yet again indicating the health of the turf going into this event.

Lastly events like these also provide an opportunity to highlight our weak areas, (the first to suffer) in this case our surrounds, to evaluate why these areas did not hold up well and develop strategies and implement plans to improve their performance.

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