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Victoria National Agronomy Blog

Stressful Summer means changing cart restrictions

The weather of 2018 has been one for the record books.  We started out April attempting to wake the course up in Mid-April with weather being one of the coldest on record.   Now we have seen May as the hottest month of May in 128 years and June averaged a high of 93 degrees.   July is looking slightly more optimistic, but with no rain falling over the past two weeks and turfgrass stressing this early we must begin making a daily decision on what is best for the players, staff and golf course in regards to cart traffic.  

The rainfall we received in June has now been depleted out of the soil and our average high temperature has been well above 90°, our team has worked diligently to maintain championship caliber conditions for our members and guests.  During prolong heat and drought stress the plant declines in turf quality that is associated with root growth, photosynthesis, carbohydrate accumulations (Salts), and turgidity of the plant. The next 45 days will be crucial for the agronomy department in maintaining turf health for the remainder of the season.  By minimize this stress at the right time can ensure healthy turf for the remainder of the season, we may have to make the decision  of keeping carts on paths between the hours of 1:00p.m.-4:00p.m. or simply keep carts ON paths for the entire day.  To combat this stress, the Agronomy Dept. does our part as well by mowing everything that we can before 10a.m. and focuses on hand-watering the next 6-8 hours of the day.  We also ask our staff to leave their carts under a tree where applicable and pull the 100’ hose up and down the entire fairway to minimize addition traffic on the course.  This hose they are pulling when full of water weighs approx. 100 lbs.    Limiting cart traffic is always our last option.   Wear damage caused by vehicles can be influenced by the speed of travel, the amount of stopping, starting, turning, and the amount of moisture in the soil.  Wear symptoms include leaf tissue matting and a subsequent exposure of underlying thatch. With additional traffic, leaf blades become bruised.  The ruptured cells eventually give turf a dark, water-soaked appearance. Wilt sets in as water is lost from the leaves, eventually causing a loss of chlorophyll and cell death.  This is accentuated when we have minimal areas for carts to enter and exit the fairways combined with the lack of moisture.  In Lehman’s terms:  It’s asking someone who is in the middle of running a marathon to run sprints with no water.  

Hole 2:  This is cart traffic driving through a stressed area.  Will take approximately two weeks to heal under. 
By minimizing the cart traffic in the afternoon or the entire day we will be benefiting the turf by not adding additional stress.   Many courses at this moment are restricting carts to paths for the entire day.  Please be mindful that the staff is trying their best to provide an outstanding experience and golf course while maintaining healthy turf.  Handwatering and syringing the turf with overheads are the best solutions at this time for us to maintain turf and allow members/guest to enjoy the course off the paths.   Simply scattering cart traffic throughout the season will also reduce the amount of stress put on the turf. Please continue to fill divots on tees/ fairway and replace pelts when applicable during the summer.  If you have any questions regarding this decision please feel free to call me directly, my cellphone 317-654-4913.

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