COURSE CARE
Summer on the Golf Course: What to Expect July 9, 2019 | Liberty Corner, N.J. By George Waters, USGA

It can be challenging to maintain healthy turf and consistent playing conditions during extreme summer weather. (USGA/Steve Boyle)

 

Summer is prime golf season for many of us, with long days and warm temperatures providing plenty of opportunities to get out on the course. For superintendents, delivering the best playing conditions possible during this busy season involves a delicate balancing act between the demands of play and the impacts of harsh summer weather. Here are a few things every golfer should know about summer playing conditions:

Consistency can be hard to come by

While many golf facilities strive to deliver peak playing conditions during the summer, periods of high heat or humidity can disrupt those plans. During stretches of extremely hot weather, it is often necessary to adjust maintenance practices to give grass the best chance of remaining healthy. Raising the height of cut on putting greens or mowing them less frequently may temporarily slow down green speeds, but it can help prevent damage that the greens may not fully recover from for weeks.

USGA Video: Fore the Golfer: Managing Summer Heat Stress on Golf Courses

Rain, rain, go away!

Unfortunately, strong storms are common throughout much of the U.S. during summer. A storm can bring a round of golf to an abrupt end and can also disrupt playing conditions for days afterward. Bunker washouts are among the most noticeable impacts in the aftermath of a storm and they can be time-consuming and expensive to repair. Wet weather can also limit golfer and maintenance traffic, which disrupts mowing operations and causes cart restrictions. Many golf facilities are renovating bunkers and installing drainage to minimize the impact of storms, but rainy weather will always require golfers to have some patience before things get back to normal.

Improving drainage in and around bunkers reduces washouts and minimizes the impact of storms on playing conditions.

 

Sometimes putting greens need a breath of fresh air

Venting aeration is a common practice at many golf courses during the summer months. It involves creating small holes or slices in the putting surface to encourage air and water movement. Venting promotes healthy roots by increasing oxygen in the soil and it can help dry out wet putting greens. This process may occur every few weeks during the summer, and while it looks disruptive as it’s being done, you will hardly notice any impact on green speed or smoothness.

Minor disruptions make a big difference

During summer, it’s not uncommon to encounter members of the maintenance staff using sprinklers or hoses to water key areas of the golf course. You may also find fans running near some putting greens. Playing from an area that’s been freshly watered or listening to a large fan whirring while you line up a putt may be a little bothersome, but these minor disruptions can make the difference between grass living and dying during the stressful summer months.

Fans help to cool putting greens during hot weather and reduce disease issues by drying turf leaves and soil.

 

There will be a lot of great days for golf this summer, and there will also be times that test the patience of golfers and superintendents alike. Extreme weather will inevitably impact the golf course and the best thing we can do as golfers is to be understanding and patient until normal conditions return.

Around the USGA