Hoping for an even break
couple of generations ago, columnist
and radio commentator Franklin P.
Adams observed, “The best you get is an
even break.” Wisconsin’s golf course
superintendents are convinced FPA had
It has been a tough year. Some of our golf
courses came through the winter in fine
condition while others spent considerable
time and effort repairing winter injury on
greens, tees and fairways.
There were quarters of the state where
golf courses were closed for extended
periods early in the season because of
extremely wet conditions. Rounds were
reduced and so were the attending
Weather remained spotty in June – extremely dry in some places and adequate
rainfall in others.
Then July arrived and it wasn’t pretty.
Nationwide, over 9,000 heat-related
records were set in the month; some of us
thought they were all in Wisconsin.
High temperatures and high humidity are
the reasons for plant disease problems,
and they most surely presented themselves.
Supplies of some plant protectants were
stretched, and very few golf courses were
unaffected by turf pathogens. I was at our
O.J. Noer Turfgrass Research Facility early
one morning – it’s located near Verona – and
already at that early hour Jerry Kershasky
was in the Turfgrass Diagnostic Lab with a
sample from one of his greens. Jerry,
Westmoor CC’s outstanding superintendent,
wanted an accurate diagnosis before
designing a treatment protocol. Our UW –
Madison Diagnostic Lab was a busy place
The above-average air temperatures led
to above-average soil temperatures. The
result? Greatly reduced rooting that was
shallower on closely cut turf than normal. It
made irrigation decisions even dicier.
In the Madison area, the turf suffered for
a lack of rainfall as storm after storm missed
us. Attendees at our Wisconsin Turfgrass
Association Summer Field Day were surprised at just how dry it was. On the flip
side, up in the Fox River Valley, a colleague
of mine didn’t run a full irrigation program
for all of July and the first week of August.
It was as if we were on different planets.
And to top off a difficult year, some golf
courses experienced injury from an herbi-
Water is applied to a green at steamy Maple Bluff CC following play at the State Amateur in July.
cide, despite being used in complete accordance with the label. It hurts us deeply
to see an evergreen that has been healthy
and growing for 60 or 70 years turn brown
and die. It will take lawyers to sort this one
out as we watch these magnificent trees
tagged for removal.
Once, when I was a kid, I asked my dad
why farmers complain so much. It was dur-
ing a season like this one when everybody
was worried about crops, pastures and
farm animals and what it would mean to
the family’s income. He wasn’t bothered
by my question; instead he took it as a
chance to explain how the weather influ-
ences yields, livestock and milk production
and ultimately our family farm’s prosperity.
It was a lesson in basic agricultural eco-
nomics, and it all made perfect sense to
me. I have never forgotten those lessons
about how we were affected by something
we couldn’t control – the weather. Never
again have I accused farmers of griping.