Our golf course architect, Lester George, has created a Master Plan for improvements across the golf course. Just recently, we were approved to begin several projects from within that Master Plan. Over the next several weeks we will keep you posted on projects that we have completed.
One of the first projects that we have completed is select tree clearing behind the 4th green. This was a delicate project as the existing tree-line frames the 4th green beautifully. Mr. George hand picked the trees that were to be removed so that we could accomplish our agronomic objectives while not damaging the overall look of the hole.
Before we get into the project details, let's discuss the agronomic purpose of this project. Grass plants perform two major physiological functions to produce and consume food. Photosynthesis is the process of making energy and respiration is the process of using energy. The plant needs both to survive, but photosynthesis is the most crucial because the plant cannot consume food unless food has been created.
If you look at a photosynthesis/respiration timing curve, you can see that photosynthesis reaches its
apex in cooler temperatures relative to respiration.
In layman's terms, the hotter it gets, the plant consumes more food than it is making leading to a net-negative food deficit. In this state, the plant is not producing enough carbohydrates to support vigorous growth and repair.
So, how do we maximize plant food production throughout the summer? We supply the plat with the raw material it needs to photosynthesize efficiently at key periods of a hot day. The raw materials in question are water, sunlight and carbon dioxide. The key timing of a hot day is in the morning and to a lesser extent, the late afternoon. The reason these two periods are important is because the plant wants to make food in cooler temperatures. On a hot summer day at lets say 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon, the plants photosynthetic rate is much lower than lets say 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning or evening. Furthermore, at the hottest parts of the day, not only is photosynthesis inefficient, respiration spikes.
We cannot stop these processes as they will remain a challenge with respect to cool season grass in warm climates. However, if we can ensure that we water well and that the plant has adequate sun at the key points of the day, we can maximize photosynthetic potential and mitigate some of the net-negative energy production cycle.
This brings us to the tree project on #4. The pine tree canopy to the left and rear of that green creates a heavy shade line that doesn't allow sunlight until later in the day while re-casting shadows quickly in the afternoon. In other words, the two points in time when that green may be able to make food, there isn't enough sunlight to support efficient photosynthesis. By moving the tree line away from the green, we were able to move the shade line and .... increase sun light onto the putting surface both earlier and later in the day. By doing this, we have given the 4th green a better opportunity to make food when possible.
In the photo below, taken at 4:00 pm in mid-March, you can see that the shade line is just starting to re-appear on the back left corner of the green. Prior to the tree removal, that shade line would have set-up by 2:30 or 3:00. During the afternoon hours, we have added 1-2 hours of photosynthetic potential. The same trend is seen in the morning where the shade line wasn't off of the green until almost lunch time. Now, we are seeing full sun on that green by 10:00 or 10:30 in the morning. Again, we are picking up 1 to 2 hours of sunlight each morning. Our net increase is 2-4 hours of sunlight. Over the course of a growing season, this increase is monumental in allowing the plant to not only build, but store excess carbohydrates (food).
The first step: tree removal with chain saws.
The second step: grind all of the sumps.
The third step: clean-up stump grindings, grade and seed to fine fescue.
The fourth step: sodding any tree wells that were in primary rough.
The finished product: a new shade line with the original framing in tact.