The long winter is over and now we have skipped spring and went straight into summer! Where did our spring showers go?! In all seriousness this has been an extremely dry spring. The irrigation system was turned on exactly one month earlier than last year due to the unseasonably warm temperatures and lack of rain. In the past thirty days the Hopyard has received only three quarters of an inch of rain. Despite the lack of rain the golf course continues to improve agronomically which will help us continue to develop healthier turf and a more consistent golf course.
Earlier this spring, my team started verticutting the greens aggressively to help remove thatch. A green that is comprised of too much thatch can cause many issues including: poor drainage, a softer playing surface and will be more susceptible to disease outbreaks. Most of the greens have been verticut between four and six times to help remove some of the thatch material. While verticutting does not remove as much material as aerification, it is very beneficial. In addition to the greens, I would like to verticut the tees and approaches throughout the year; however, due to this extremely dry season it has been almost impossible. Once the weather cooperates I plan on continuing to actively verticut.
The trees that were removed this winter have already made a noticeable difference across the golf course. The project to clear back the encroaching wood lines along the left side of the second hole and along the cart path on the fifth hole has drastically increased pace of play and improved air movement along the entire left side of the hole. The clearing in between the seventh and ninth tee boxes has greatly aided the tee boxes on both holes, especially the blue and black tee on the ninth. One of the biggest projects along the wood line on the fourteenth hole has dramatically helped the green and surrounding bunker. I am happy with the work that was finished this winter, but there are many projects still to address for this upcoming winter. I will discuss many of those areas later this season.
The biggest story of the season so far has to be the lack of rain fall. It is extremely uncommon to see the pond on the eighteenth hole so low this early in the season. The golf course opened on April 10th, which is the latest the Hopyard has ever opened. Since Opening Day, the golf course has received 2.65 inches of rain, which is far below normal. The total evapotranspiration rate or amount of water lost through evaporation and transpiration of plants and turf during that time period is just shy of eight inches of water. This leaves the golf course in a deficit of over five and one half inches of rain. The two wells that pump from the Eight Mile River to our irrigation pond are monitored by DEEP. Once the river reaches a certain threshold we are only allowed to pump an allotted number of gallons per day. If we do not receive a significant amount of rainfall to raise the pond and the Eight Mile River our amount of irrigation water will be severely compromised.
I would like to close by saying thank you to our members who have approached me and expressed positive feedback about the work accomplished this winter. My team worked extremely hard and continues to do so. I also wanted to mention that adjacent to the 1st tee is a green plastic box that contains divot bottles full of seed and soil. If you are walking or riding and would like to fill some divots as you enjoy your round at the Hopyard please take a divot bottle, your help is much appreciated. Every little bit helps! As always please call or email any questions you may have regarding the golf course.
Golf Course Superintendent
(860) 434-6644 Ext. 114