September 17, 2011

USGA Green Section Record, September 16, 2011

Some very interesting and timely articles in this weeks update from the USGA. These come out every Friday, and you will find a link to subscribe at the bottom if you wish.
Sorry I have not shared any new thoughts or updates in a while. Things have been a little crazy at work. I hope to find time for a recap this week.

Pete Gorman
Golf Course Superintendent
Pine Orchard Yacht & Country Club
Branford, CT

September 1, 2011

Hurricane Irene damage assessment

The storm surge from Hurricane Irene has caused significant damage to the lower portion of the golf course, especially the 1st/10th and 9th/18th fairways.  The strong winds damaged a number of trees throughout the golf course, and the sea water submerged areas for up to 36 hours. 
We spent the majority of the week before the storm preparing the course and our facility in hopes that we would be able to minimize the damage and facilitate the cleanup and recovery process.  We never imagined the water would come so high, or with so much force.  Thankfully the wind damage was minimal, and was primarily limited to limbs and leaders as opposed to entire trees.  The maintenance staff has been working extremely hard all week, and the cleanup on holes 3-8 is almost complete.
The salt damage is a bit more complicated as it comes in two stages.  The acute toxicity of the chloride is remedied by rinsing the turf with fresh water as soon as possible, and flushing it out of the soil.  We were able to do this on the areas that were only covered for one day, including 4 greens, the 2nd/11th tees, and the 7th and 9th approaches.  The areas that were submerged for more than one day suffered the most damage, and will require extensive renovation to completely recover.  The chronic toxicity is related to the sodium, which must be displaced by calcium and then flushed from the soil.  We are still working on this process.  You can see the difference between these two areas on the bottom of the 9th fairway where there are two high water lines, one from Sunday, and the lower line from Monday.

Recovery will depend on how long it takes to flush the sodium from the soil, which must occur before seeding or sodding can take place.  I have been in touch with the soil scientists at UCONN, and they confirmed that we were taking all the correct steps to remove the sodium and minimize the damage to the greens.
The power outage has limited us to running 5 or 6 sprinklers at a time, and therefore we have focused our attention on the areas that were submerged for one day, including the greens, the 2nd/11th tees, and the 7th/9th approaches.  I am confident that these areas will recover with minimal turf loss after continued flushing, and perhaps some extra aeration and fertilization.  We are working to provide temporary power to the pumps so that we can begin flushing the remaining areas as well as maintain the rest of the golf course.  Once we have cleaned the mud off the turf and can determine the extent of the turf loss we will develop a strategy to restore the areas to their pre-storm condition.
We are going to open holes 3-8 for play beginning at noon on Friday, September 2.  Carts will be allowed on these holes only, but rental carts will be limited due to the lack of power.  The bridge on the 9th hole was lifted off its footing, and the damage on the 1st and 18th fairways has rendered them unplayable.  I will keep you posted as to the cleanup and recovery process, and we will open the remaining holes as soon as we are able.  We appreciate your patience and support, and are looking forward to the day when this ordeal is behind us.