The fifth fairway has been roped off to help speed the recovery to the turf damaged during the recent stretch of extreme heat and humidity. Please keep all carts out of these areas until the area has recovered enough to tolerate increased traffic. The area is open for play and walkers may bring push carts through the openings.
The damage to the fairway was caused by a fungus called gray leaf spot. This fungus typically arrives in mid to late August, and is carried from the mid-Atlantic by large weather systems. This summer the disease appears to have spread from the Midwest, arriving a few weeks ahead of schedule.
Gray Leaf Spot is a fungus that only attacks perennial ryegrass, is found in areas prone to high traffic or compaction, and thrives in high heat and humidity. Damage is more severe when nitrogen is readily available and turf remains wet for extended periods of time. During the week before the Men's Invitational we spent extra time watering areas that were struggling with heat and drought stress, and applied fertilizer to all areas the course to produce a uniform green color. These applications were made at the onset of infection, when the symptoms resemble heat or drought stress.
Our course was the first confirmed case of Gray Leaf Spot in Connecticut, and we initiated our control and recovery efforts as the disease samples were being dropped off at the pathology lab at UCONN for diagnosis. We applied a combination of fungicides to stop the progression of the disease, and initiated cultural practices to correct the conditions that contribute to the problem as well. We have seeded the area twice with the latest varieties of disease resistant creeping bentgrass, and will continue to do so until the recovery is complete.
The remaining fairways that are predominantly perennial ryegrass (3,7,8,9) have been sprayed with fungicides to prevent the spread of the disease, and we will resume our fertilizer applications once the heat and humidity have passed and cooler nights have returned. The worst of the situation is behind us, and I am already seeing signs of improvement. Soon we will be wearing long sleeves in the morning, which will indicate that conditions are in our favor for the course to recover from all the heat, humidity, and other summer stress factors. As we transition the turf from weaker grass species to more durable alternatives, conditions will improve and the area will be more durable, and damage from stressful conditions and the wear and tear of summer play will be less noticeable. We have seen this progression on the fourth approach that suffered from the same disease a few years ago and on the greens that have been transitioning from weaker annual bluegrass to resilient creeping bentgrass in recent years.
I apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your support. It has been one of the longest summers I can remember in the 20+ years that I have been working on golf courses, and I am looking forward to fall weather and the best playing conditions of the year.