This week marks the start of the 2009 US Open Championship hosted by Craig Currier at Bethpage Black. In 2002, Bethpage was the first public facility to host a US Open Championship. That week was met with great success and a lot of rain as Tiger Woods went on to win his 2nd US Open (and now is the defending champion). Now according to weather.com, there is a 40% chance of rain each day of the event. So based on the accuracy of most weather forecasters, it will probably be perfectly sunny and dry.
As golf course superintendents head into their own tournament season, the thought of heavy rains and golf course preparation comes to mind. One of the busiest times of year for me is immediately following the golf course tournament season. Visits to golf courses during this time often are met with thinning turf stands, weak collars, and dead or dying greens. In many cases, this was caused by "pushing" the greens to their limits in preparation of a particular event. It is important to know the limitations of your greens and always follow some basic rules to prevent damage (especially during excessively wet weather):
1. Never mow greens that are wet. Mowing greens that are excessively wet can result in severe damage. Wet greens tend to be spongy and are susceptible to scalping from mowers.
2. Remove standing water ASAP. During the hot summer and heat of the day, heavy rains can result in standing water. This water can heat up to levels that result in direct scald of the turf.
3. Improve drainage. While this is a long term fix, many golf courses in the Northeast are in need of supplemental drainage to their native soil putting greens. The addition of drains such as the XGD system can be completely relatively quickly with minimum disturbance to the putting green surface.
4. Keep a level head. When things get busy during the summer, stick to the basic agronomics that you know have worked for you in the past. Know the limitations of your course and "try" to avoid the pressure to do things that you know are bad for the turf. Avoid being tempted by the member comments of "I don't care if they die, just get the speeds up to 12!".
Now I know that there are some things that are unavoidable, but do what you can to prevent causing the damage yourself. There are plenty of other things out there that we don't have control over, so let's try to manage the things we can control.