Afraid to use the water

Another week has passed. The fanfare of the First Family, the fair, the fireworks and illumination night are all behind us. Just another week in paradise. The biggest thing to happen on the course is with no decent rains in weeks the well has finally turned salty. I have kept things on the dry side this year because the high humidity back in July is made worse with high moisture and we simply cannot tax the well. The more we water the saltier it gets, especially if we do not get rainfall to replenish the groundwater. I test the water periodically with a conductivity meter and send samples off to a professional lab a few times a season also. The numbers for this year so far are in the link here: manual test records I have always used the guide of 1.0 on this meter as a point to switch to town water. Last year at the height of that droughty spell we were in the 3's and 4's. You can see direct kill from extremely high salt concentrations but it is usually more of an issue with the build up in the soil where you have problems. In the past our turf would become slimy on the surface. Think how table salt cakes up in the summer inside the shaker. It absorbs moisture from the air. As the salt builds up in the soil it does the same thing. This excess salt and moisture also break down the soil structure and it becomes soft and mushy. It then is more susceptible to mechanical stress such as mowing or cart traffic. It was most noticeable in fairways where we would get cart tires skidding and peeling up turf. See this post from last season here We would then need to apply a rescue treatment of gypsum to try and flush the sodium and firm up the surface. We currently apply amendments to the greens about every three weeks throughout the season to combat sodium build up. This will be the first year in at least a decade we have not had this phenomenon on fairways. This year we have other issues in that the bad weather stretch and the current watering regimen have killed off the weaker plants, mostly Annual Bluegrass or Poa Annua. If we can keep it from reestablishing from the enormous seed bank in the soil we will be better off in the years to come. Think crabgrass. It has this large seed bank in the soil and all it takes is the right conditions and it germinates, sometimes despite all our attempts against it.

"The more we water the saltier it gets"

So the plan going forward is to slice seed the fairways with desirable species. Use town water if we have to to get germination and establishment. Change from a no fungicide approach to a more traditional one to give the plants as much of a chance as we can and maintain a drier firmer surface. It has done wonders for our greens and it will do wonders for the rest of the place. It may take a few seasons for the turf to acclimate to the change in watering practices and we will be a slightly different shade of green than we are accustomed to. Most parts of the course are actually quite green and healthy right now. Scenes from around the course this week: we had a leak on 2 tee and when Murph tried to shut the valve off so we could cut the pipe he was stung by a bee. Then ants all around the head. Then the valve froze closed so we had to dig that up and replace it. Another casualty of salt water?
ants 2 tee

Murph swollen wrist

yellow jacket nest in irrigation box

divots, scuffs & athletic cleat dimples

sunrise 1st hole

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