Since Sunday night, the course has received about 4.5" of rain. Along with that, we really didn't have any "drying time" since it has been cloudy and misty even when it wasn't raining. The course began the week accepting the rain very well. Utilizing our wetting agents on the fairways and greens, the water infiltrated quickly and evenly. There's a point, however, when the volume of water is too much and the soil can't take much more moisture. We had carts out all week, but the Thursday night/Friday morning rains have put us over that tipping point and now the course is saturated.
The cooler temperatures have helped the course take a breather before we get into the heat of the summer and the intense maintenance that goes into Invitational week. Unfortunately the timing of some of our sprays to prepare for the Invitational has been adjusted due to the weather. We're still doing our best to get everything lined up so our conditions are the best they can be going into the 18th, 19th, and 20th.
Our new Horticulturist, Lola Wilson, started on Monday. We're very excited to have her on board and look forward to seeing her ideas take effect. So far, I've been very impressed with her vision for the landscaping plan and her willingness to do what it takes to keep the grounds looking great. Take a moment to introduce yourself to Lola if you see her working around the property and welcome her to the club!
Finally, the best news that I'd like to mention is in regards to our fight with Nitrates. After 2 weeks of temperatures in the upper 80s and even reaching 90, we took soil samples to examine our Nitrate levels along with our other nutrient values. I received the report on Wednesday that our Nitrates are very low at 1.3-1.8ppm (parts per million). Ideally we want to be below 5ppm and anything over 20ppm causes serious issues. If you remember, in 2013, our tests showed our levels at 118ppm. The practices we have put in place have helped reduce or eliminate the excessive Nitrogen built up in the soil. A great example of that is how slowly our DryJect holes have healed on the greens. Without excess N in the soil for the plant to ingest, and without us adding any, the recovery has been extremely slow.
Moving forward, we're still going to be cautious through the season but now that we have solid evidence from our test results, I'm as confident as our consultant Jeff Michel that we now have total control of the fertility on the greens. Jeff's analogy was that Nitrogen is like a gas pedal and growth regulators are the brakes on a car. The excessive N causing the plant to grow out of control was like having a brick on the gas pedal and all I had under my control was the brake, or the use of growth regulators to slow down the growth, which at a point can be toxic to the plant. Now that the excessive N is gone, the brick is off the gas pedal and the growth is totally controllable. To improve recovery, I will be adding N into our spray this week and reduce our growth regulators (more gas, less brake) but for Invitational week, we will pull back the N, add growth regulators (stand on the brakes) and push the speeds upwards. This type of control and adjustment is the way greens are meant to be managed to balance health and playability and I'm excited to have that control back!