News From East End of Long Island

By John J. Genovesi, CGCS, Maidstone Club, East Hampton, NY

2015 has been a challenging season for many of the golf courses on Long Island.  After a punishing winter with record low temps, ample snow and significant ice cover, many clubs experienced extensive damage.  Although the damage came in many forms, one common theme is that those clubs managing annual bluegrass poa annua were affected the worst.  Those clubs managing creeping bentgrass, which is more tolerant of these conditions, fared much better.  To make matters worse, most of the region experienced a cold, dry spring which really hampered overseeding and recovery efforts.  With the season approaching rapidly many courses resorted to sodding any remaining damage. Furthermore, many of last winter’s projects were not able to be completed until well into the season. 

After resolving the winter damage, the next big challenge on the Island has been summer moisture management.  People tend to think of Long Island as a homogeneous entity but, as most Superintendents can tell you, it varies greatly from region to region.  The rainfall this summer has been very sporadic.   As I sit here writing this update, some areas on the western part of the Island are getting slammed with flooding rains, but those storms are breaking up before they reach the eastern end.   Measurements from our weather station from June 24 to present estimate that we have lost 9.6 inches of soil moisture through evapotranspiration and have received only 2.3 inches in rainfall, resulting in a net deficit of 7.3 inches.  That’s a lot to try and make up with irrigation alone and those parts of the course without sprinkler coverage are very evident at this time.

 So what will be the next big hurdle?  For many clubs that dealt with winter damage it will be trying to complete fall and winter maintenance regimens with a golf schedule that is packed to the gills with rescheduled spring events.  It’s amazing the ripple effect the weather has had on this season, starting with a spring of restoring grass cover, to a summer of nursing immature turf with limited rainfall, all leading to a busy fall with a very condensed golf schedule.  Suffice it to say, when it comes to golf course maintenance, Mother Nature is the ultimate Superintendent and she will always have the final say.

In summation, based on this past winter and spring, I’m not ready to subscribe to global warming, but I would definitely agree that we are experiencing climate change.  Over the past six years it seems as though we are experiencing more and more weather extremes.  The summer of 2010 brought us extreme heat.  This past winter we experienced record low temperatures in February.  Sandwiched in between we saw two major hurricanes, Irene and Sandy, the effects of which can still be seen at many courses in the area.  Best of luck to all with the challenges you’re facing at your facilities and may Mother Nature be on your side.