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The Weight of Water

September 1, 2010

The message below comes to us from John Ausen, CGCS, at Hyperion Field Club. (Perhaps a more fitting name based on their weather would be Hyperion Boat and Yatch Club).

John's Message:

Hyperion Field Club received 39.5 inches of rain from June 2nd to August 14th. Many golf courses received more and for that I sympathize with you. Keeping the 39.5” of rain in mind, this means that 3.25 cubic feet of water landed on every square foot of turf. One cubic foot of water weighs 62.5 pounds which puts the weight of 3.25 cub foot at 203 pounds.

If you consider a 5000 square foot green the total weight of water landing on that green was 1.1 million pounds or 507 tons and it all hit at the speed and force of gravity which is somewhere between 10 and 20 miles per hour depending on the size of the drops.

Any more questions about the need for aerification!

John Ausen


The Floods of 2010

August 13, 2010

This is a week that people in Central Iowa will not forget for a long time. Ames received around 10 inches of rain in a three day period and the city experienced arguably its most devastating flood ever. The Squaw Creek and Skunk River are the two major waterways that run through town. Squaw Creek crested at 18.13 feet (flood stage is 9) which was just shy of the record crest of 18.5 experienced back in 1993. The Skunk River crested at 26.52 feet (flood stage is 20) which was above the 1993 crest of 25.53 feet. For those familiar with Ames, the picture above is a shot of Hilton Coliseum inundated in flood waters.

The majority of the flood waters have now receded and cleanup efforts are well underway. Trying to predict the survival of turfgrass in flooded conditions is tricky business and depends on so many factors. Weather is a big factor and has not been on our side so far this week. Temperatures have been in the low 90’s with the humidity pushing heat indices into the 100’s.

We were greeted to a healthy dose of mycelium at our research station this morning. During my time spend in industry, I learned that trying to visually distinguish between dollar spot and pythium blight is very difficult (at least it is for me!) so we brought the sample to campus for a closer look. Inspection of the sample under a compound microscope confirmed that the disease we were seeing was in fact Pythium blight.


We also stumbled upon some slime mold. Earlier in the year we had a post about slime mold on green height creeping bentgrass. This slime mold appeared on rough height Kentucky bluegrass. Remember that slime molds are more of an oddity, they’re unsightly but they are not considered harmful and control measures are not necessary.

I’ll leave you with a video courtesy of KCCI News Channel 8 showing an aerial view of the city this past Wednesday morning.


Lose a Battle to Win the War

August 11, 2010

This article comes to us from Ty McClellan, USGA Green Section Record Mid-Continent Region Agronomist.

In this case, the ‘battle’ is playability, i.e. putting green smoothness and speed, and the ‘war’ is turfgrass survival. With the summer’s weather challenges, some courses have already lost major portions of rough and fairways to natural physiological decline or flooding. Reports of greens being lost are on the rise and these facilities are now faced with re-grassing this fall. For others, the fight continues.

Root depth on greens is generally two inches or less, and heat indexes in recent weeks have exceeded 115°F with average daily relative humidities just shy of 100%. Soil temperatures are frequently in the mid-90s and above. (Note: Bentgrass root dieback begins when soil temperatures reach about 86°F.) Most of the weaker species that possess lower thresholds to environmental extremes, such as Poa annua, have long disappeared from greens and surrounds. Arguably the most difficult to manage area of the golf course, even during favorable conditions, putting green collars have been decimated regardless of species. For many, the only objective now is to preserve what bentgrass remains on the greens and what Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and tall fescue continues to hang on in the surrounds.

Given continuing weather extremes, golfers should forego high expectations for their bentgrass greens for the sake of preserving turf that remains. Look beyond today (August) so that golf can be enjoyed tomorrow (this fall).

Since my last USGA Regional Update in early July titled "Feeling the Heat", extreme conditions have only intensified with even more heat and rain. The perfect storm for turfgrass decline continues and on a devastating path. Areas in the upper Mid-Continent Region are still in the midst of record-breaking rainfall totals and heat waves. For most of the region, 10- and 30-day forecasts are not encouraging. Fortunately, it is August meaning day lengths are getting shorter and September is around the corner. We just have to get there.

Given the harshness of environmental extremes across several geographic regions this summer, some great resources have been generated and can be found below:

- Many recent USGA Regional Updates discuss summer struggles and outline excellent recommendations for survival. (

- USGA Senior Agronomist Chris Hartwiger developed a webcast, “Bad to Worse for Creeping Bentgrass - Seven Steps to Help Your Greens Make it Through the Summer” that includes seven survival recommendations: 1) proper and continuous use of fans (i.e. 24 hours/day), 2) venting the greens when possible via non-disruptive aeration, 3) raising the mowing height and using solid front rollers, 4) mowing less frequently and rolling instead, 5) increasing the use of fungicides, 6) taking irrigation management to the highest level possible, and 7) reducing traffic on the greens.

- Virtually every disease known, and even a few new ones, have been prevalent on cool-season turfgrasses under duress this summer. For instance, there have been a few titles on turf diseases over the last two weeks, and a daily blog by five contributing university turfgrass pathologists nationwide states, “Dead Bentgrass Makes Headlines”, “Heat + Rain = Dead Grass”, “No Wind = Dead Grass”, “Heat Wreaking Havoc on Courses Nationwide”, “Relentless Heat and Humidity” and “Stress, Stress, Stress.”

This has been a trying summer for all. Cool-season turfgrass are in a fragile state and superintendents and their staffs are feeling the effects of long hours and touch-and-go circumstances. Now is the time to rely on the wisdom of your superintendent and support the recommendations from professionals. Slower greens are still quite playable and enjoyable. If nothing else, it’s an opportunity to enjoy hole locations in areas of the green that otherwise are not available when greens are fast. Respect course closure and cart restriction policies when saturated course conditions exist.

Know what is at stake and adjust your expectations of playability now in order to fight another day. Your fall golf season may just depend on it.

If you would like more information about a Turf Advisory Service visit, do not hesitate to contact either of the Mid-Continent regional offices: Ty McClellan at or (630) 340-5853 or Bud White at or (972) 662-1138.



May 28, 2013

What's next?  If you check the blog from the beginning of this month, you will find a major snow fall in Ames in May.  Now at the end of the month, we have flooding.  The first picture is from this morning on the 15th fairway at Veenker golf course on Iowa State Campus.  We have one of our major research projects for the year on this fairway and it is now under several feet of water.  Hopefully, we can salvage the research if the water goes down soon.

Veenker Golf Course Flooding

 Pumping off water from behind 16 tee.

Veenker Golf Course Flooding

 Here is the river running through Veenker at 8:00 this morning.  It went over it's banks last night.  The maintenance shop can be seen through the trees.  They have moved all of the equipment to higher ground.

Veenker Golf Course Flooding

 Another view of the river crossing in front of the 16th tee.

Veenker Golf Course Flooding

 This is the crew washing and sweeping soil and other flood related materials from the 16th fairway.



November 22, 2010

This is a final summary on the recovery of the intramural field on campus that was damaged during the flood in August.

The first picture was taken a few days after the flood. The bluegrass/rye turf is dead. The grasses that survived are all warm-season grasses. Most of it is Bermudagrass, but there is also Zoysiagrass and Buffalograss on the site. This grass was established over the steam tunnel several years ago.

The second picture shows Kentucky bluegrass beginning to recover from rhizomes. It was taken a couple of weeks after the flood waters receded.

The third picture shows one of the turf lab groups on the site in September. They are standing on the warm-season grasses. The surrounding area was reseeded shortly after the flood and the blue/rye area has nearly recovered.

The final picture was taken in November of 2010. The blue/rye area has completely recovered and the warm-season grasses have gone dormant for the season. Little by little, the campus is returning to normal. The final bill for the flood damage was in the range of 50 million dollars.



October 7, 2010

Here is the latest picture of the recovery from the August 10 flood damage. It was taken on Sept. 29, 2010, 7 weeks after the flood damage. The students are the Hort 351 lab that was visiting the site. They are standing on the warm season grasses that survived the flood. The surrounding area is the bluegrass/rye area that had the severe damage. The area was seeded shortly after the flood. About 40% of the recovery is from bluegrass rhizomes, the rest is germinating perennial ryegrass seed. The area still cannot be used for intramural sports, but the extent of recovery in just 7 weeks is amazing.

Veenker golf course and Cold Water Golf Links were both heavily damaged by the flood as well. Both courses are now open play.



September 6, 2010

On the 24th of August, I posted some pictures of the ISU intramural fields following 3 days of continuous flooding. The warm-season grasses had recovered well from the flood, but the surrounding Kentucky bluegrass/perennial ryegrass area appeared to be dead.

The pictures below are from September 6, two weeks later. The area has been reseeded, but seedlings are not emerging at this time. The strip through the middle of the field are the warm-season grasses that recovered immediately after the flood. Notice the green area to the left. That is Kentucky bluegrass recovering from rhizomes.

The grass in the background is Kentucky bluegrass. No rye can be found in the area. The rye is a bunch grass and lacks a rhizome system. The rhizomes of the bluegrass are causing the recovery.

Here is a bluegrass plant growing at the end of a rhizome. This type of growth is what comprises most of the green tissue on the Kentucky bluegrass area.

A little digging in the area shows rhizome tissue just beginning to form new plants.

These new plants from these rhizomes will emerge in the next few days and begin to produce chlorophyll. I would expect recovery from rhizomes to be complete before fall and long before the new seedlings mature. Seeding is still a good idea on an area like this. The perennial ryegrass on the field will come from seed.

I'll keep you posted on the recovery through the fall.



August 24, 2010

These two pictures are both from the intramural field on ISU campus. The first one is from last November. It shows a strip of warm season grasses that have been planted on the steam tunnel that runs through the area. They include bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, and buffalograss. They are all dormant as would be expected in November. The Kentucky bluegrass/perennial ryegrass turf is green.

Now look at this picture taken yesterday, Aug. 23, 2010, approximately two weeks after the flood. This area was completely under water for at least 3 days. The bluegrass/rye is dead (although I think the rhizomes of the bluegrass are alive) and the warm-season grasses have recovered. This is a good demonstration of how well warm-season species can take flooding.



August 12, 2010

This is going to be another of those summers that we will not forget for a long time. In 1993, we had a flood in Ames that was referred to at the time as a 500 year flood. This one is actually worse. Two 500 year floods in 17 years. What's next?

Here is Veenker Memorial Golf Course (the University Course) this morning (Aug. 12, 2010). I took this from the 1st tee. Notice the crew in the background washing off #1 green.

Here is another shot from the same location looking west at the crew washing off a tee. We'll keep you posted on the aftermath of the flood waters in the next few days. For those of you wandering about Cold Water Golf Links, which is down river from Veenker, I couldn't even get there this morning. I saw helicopter pictures from yesterday, and the course was completely under water.

Here is the 9th green. Luckily, it is out of the flood water, but a mole decided to add insult to injury.

It has been an incredible year for crabgrass. This is a picture of one of our preemerge studies. The two products that are working very well are a CONTEC fertilizer with dithiopyr from Andersons and a new compound from Bayer called Indaziflam (Specticle) that will be coming out next year. Indaziflam works at the incredibly low rates of 0.0225 - 0.071 lb AI/acre. These new compounds are amazing.

Finally, a picture that I took at Veenker the day before the flood. This is mosquito repellant damage at the edge of the 1st green. Notice the foot prints. There were three of these close together. This area was under several feet of water the next morning.



July 14, 2010

Here are some more flooding pictures and comments on recovery. These are from Russ Appel, Supt. of Briggs Woods Golf by Webster City, IA. Some are from 2008 and some from 2010. Russ has a lot of experience with flooding and recovery from flooding. He can be reached at

I'm still looking for other pictures and feedback on flood recovery. This information is very useful to those dealing with flooding for the first time.

Nick Christians

Here are Russ' comments:
Here are some pictures from 2008 and 2010. As I said before 08 was about the same as this year. Water was on the greens for about 4 days, and in fairways and on tees for over a week. The only difference was silt. The green on 13 was covered with about 2 inches of silt. We shoveled it off, and hosed the remaining off. The green looked totally dead, or dormant. I was sure we would have to reseed. The next day I went down to see if anything was coming back, and it was. I decided to let it go, and it eventually all came back. The fairways and tees never came back.