THOUGHTS FROM OUR SUPERINTENDENT pt. 2
As darkness descends on the Pacific Northwest and plant activity slows to a crawl, the focus of the agronomy department at Chambers Bay begins to shift. The goal of providing quality playability does not waver through the offseason and smooth consistent greens still the top of our list of priorities. However, with the reduction of daylight hours, growing degree days and an increase of adverse weather, our ability to mechanically manipulate conditioning is greatly hindered. We continue to mow turf (greens, tees, fairways and rough) as growth rates dictate and roll greens when desired results are obtainable. We are very much at the mercy of environmental realities as our turf retreats to a natural winter state. Simply stated; the overall goal for the offseason at Chambers Bay is twofold, to repair damage incurred from the season prior and to prepare for the golf season approaching. The winter punch list covers a wide range of projects including sod work, bunker maintenance, native area and dune maintenance, weed removal, irrigation repairs, drainage, and data review.
A key integrant to the offseason program is to collect, submit and review key data. This data includes water, soil, and plant tissue testing. Although we collect these samples biannually, the results from the fall testing are of particular interest as it serves as a summation of the year and the impact of our fertility and pesticide programs.
Because soil supplies most of the mineral nutrition for plants through the plants’ root system, soil analysis is conducted thoroughly and checked against historical data. Soil samples are collected from all putting and practice greens as well as representative fairways and tees. Key points of consideration when reviewing soil samples are soil acidity (pH), electrical conductivity, nitrogen, phosphorus, major exchangeable cations, cation exchange capacity, exchangeable sodium percentage, sodium adsorption ratio, free lime, sulfur, micronutrients, and organic matter. These components are foundationally critical to productive soils and healthy plants, soil samples help pinpoint specific needs and reduce abundance in our fertility program. Plant tissue is also collected and tested; tissue testing involves an analysis of foliar tissue (grass clippings) for nutrient content. Knowing the nutritional content of our turfgrass empowers our ability to design maximum efficiency into our fertility program guaranteeing the plant is given what it needs to thrive in its function as fine golf course turf.
Built into the design of Chambers Bay is a series of bioswales, retention basins and infiltration basins throughout the property to provide aquifer and surface water protection from gravitational drain water. Because Chambers Bay is an endpoint for gravitational water draining from neighboring towns coupled with its proximity to Puget Sound, it is critical to our philosophy of environmental stewardship that all water downstream of Chambers Bay has no trace of pollutants made possible by golf course maintenance practices. The ongoing water monitoring program begun in 2007 includes samples taken twice yearly from surface water sampling stations. Both surface water samples are tested for nitrate-nitrogen(nitrate), orthophosphate phosphorus and ammonia. The samples are also tested for pesticides applied to the golf course
In the six months preceding the sampling date. Field parameters consisting of visual inspection, temperature, pH, specific conductance, and dissolved oxygen are recorded and measured at the time each sample is collected. Keeping water clean at Chambers Bay ensures its function as a natural biofilter for regional gravitational drain water and thus a great benefit to the community surrounding Chambers Bay.