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WATERING GREENS Powered By Docstoc
   There is a correct way.

          by PAT GROSS

                                           Hand watering greens may seem easy, but improper technique may actually cause
                                           more harm than good.

      UMMER IS HERE, and there is          levels before applying any water. Many     high winds, and hours of intense sun-

S      nothing an overheated mainte-
      nance staff member would rather
do than hand water greens on a hot
                                           disease and insect problems display
                                           symptoms similar to localized dry
                                           spots. Watering these areas will often
                                                                                      light. In these cases, syringing the
                                                                                      greens with a light application of water
                                                                                      can help revive the plant. The idea is
afternoon. After all, it's an easy job -   make the situation worse. If the turf      to reduce the moisture stress of the
grab a hose, hook it up to a quick         is wilting and adequate moisture is        leaf tissue and allow the plant to con-
coupler, and soak the grass. Right?        present, staff members should report       tinue a balanced transpiration rate.
Think again. That employee may be          this condition to the superintendent       Syringing is a very misunderstood
doing more harm than good if he or         immediately.                               operation. It is important to remember
she is not familiar with the proper way       Hand watering the wrong way can         that you are -only trying to sustain the
to hand water greens.                      do as much damage to the playing           grass plant with a very light application
   A 1992 survey of the Green Section      surface as no watering at all. Puddles     of water, not wet the soil.
staff indicated that over-irrigation of    on the surface of the green can promote       Hand watering greens should not
greens was one of the top 10 mainte-       the development of pythium or a con-       be forgotten on weekends. A super-
nance pitfalls. Over-watering contrib-     dition known as "wet wilt." If the         intendent's worst nightmare is to return
utes to disease development          and   soil is dry, water should be applied       from a well-deserved weekend off only
inconsistent playing conditions. Even      gradually, in a showering manner, so       to find the greens scorched due to
the best-designed irrigation system        that puddling or runoff is avoided. The    lack of water. (Actually, this is only
cannot produce a green with perfectly      goal should be to match the water          one of several nightmares that super-
uniform moisture content throughout.       application rate with the infiltration     intendents have!) It is a good idea to
Occasional hand watering is necessary,     rate of the soil. It may take several      schedule one or two people to come in
therefore, to compensate for localized     minutes and several light applications     on Saturday and Sunday afternoon to
dry spots or to cool the turfgrass         of water to wet the soil. For hydro-       check the greens and hand water as
canopy, and to maintain consistent         phobic areas, spiking the area first can   necessary ..
playing conditions.                        improve water penetration. Spot appli-        As a final note, check into the reason
   A couple of basic tools are n~cessary   cations of wetting agents also have        for the localized dry spots. These areas
to do the job right - a soil probe and     been successful in treating localized      could be the result of poor sprinkler
a hose-end nozzle that applies water       dry spots; however, don't overuse          head coverage, worn nozzles, tree root
in a gentle showering fashion. If regu-    these products to compensate for ex-       encroachment, compaction, or exces-
lar soil probes cannot be purchased,       cessive thatch accumulation, compac-       sive thatch accumulation. Be sure to
effective probes can be made by cutting    tion, or poor irrigation system cover-     treat the cause and not just the
down a broken golf club shaft and          age. In many cases, an aerifier will do    symptoms.
cutting out a view port using a bench      a better job than a barrel of wetting
grinder. Staff members should be           agent.
trained to check the greens with the          Putting surfaces may wilt during        PAT GROSS is an agronomist in the
soil probe to determine soil moisture      the summer due to high temperatures,       USGA Green Section's Western Region.

                                                                                                          JULY/AUGUST 1996   17