Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The beauty of rain!

OK, so rainy weather is not conducive to playing golf, but we drastically need it here on the Central Coast. I have only been here for a little over a couple of years and it is crazy that we survive with only 12 - 2o inches of rain annually. I am from the Midwest and I am used to getting that much rain in the month of July!

Besides filling our lakes and ponds across the region, the rain means a great deal to caring for the turf on our courses. Even if you irrigate with great quality fresh water, nothing beats the water provided by mother nature! During your next round of golf following the storms make an effort to notice how healthy the greens and tees look. Those areas on your favorite course that usually look beaten up and stressed will more than likely look green and revived. With the amount of rain that we are expecting the soils that the turf is grown in will receive a good "flushing".

Most newer putting greens and many newer tee boxes are constructed as perched water tables. This means the green is built and then cored out to a depth of 12-18 inches and filled with drainage, a gravel layer, and then sand. This is referred to as a USGA green. California style greens are built the same way but lack the gravel layer. Chalk Mountain Golf Course was actually one of the first golf courses built as a California style green and USGA greens evolved later over time and experimentation. These perched water tables are constructed so that water is held within the sand until the sand reaches saturation. At this point the sand releases the water all at once and the water enters the gravel layer and out the drainage, which in turn creates a vacuum-like situation leaving the sand layer moist with just the right oxygen content for turf and root growth.

Many golf courses are using some stage of effluent water, like Morro Bay, Dairy Creek, and Chalk Mountain. This water source helps us to conserves fresh water usage and actually is filtered as it moves through the soil and is returned into the ground water. These waters are filled with salts and other contaminants that actually can hinder plant growth over time and actually cause death. "Flushing" is a practice superintendents will utilize to help rid the soils of these salts, as the salt ions will attach themselves to ions within the water and actually leach down and through the soil profile allowing other ions like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (fertilizer components) to take their place.

The rains we are receiving are helping to clean our soils up and at the same time allowing our root systems to breathe with decreased effort. It is unfortunate to have so many consecutive days of rain keeping the golfers at home or at work, but aside from providing California with a precious resource, our turfs are reaping the benefit as well. Hey we could be living in the upper Midwest hoping that we will be thawed out by May! I hope to see you all out at the courses as things begin to dry out.


  1. Josh, thanks for the update on the courses and the short lessons about greens. All I think about is the squishing sound of my shoes on the wet course. Now I will be looking to see those changes you mentioned.

  2. I know maybe a little too technical, but I figure golfers spend so much time on the courses that it might be interesting to understand the agronomy behind (or under) the scenes. There is logic behind the cultural practices golf course superintendents implement.