Over the past four seasons we have been very conservative with the amount of fertility we have applied to the golf course. Especially the fairways. The reason for this is that many years of over-fertilizing had left our soils with a great deal of excess fertility. Due to this excess, we were essentially able to allow the turf to feed from this supply, requiring us to add very little extra fertility.
At some point the excess fertility was going to be used up and it was going to require us to once again provide fertility to the turf. Finding this point and insuring that it did not become noticeable on the golf course was going to be very difficult and this proved to be very true this summer. In July and the beginning of August the condition of the course came under a lot of debate. While on the surface the course was not what many people wanted to see the problem was really very simple. We had finally used up the fertility excess in our soils. Well, not necessarily used it up but during the stress of the summer the plants were having a difficult time accessing the excess fertility in the soil. We had been successful reducing the excess fertility in the soil over the past four seasons; a stated goal when I started in 2007.
Our turf is now very fit. We have high performance, resilient turf, which allows us to reduce our inputs. However, even high performance athletes need food and they need food at the right times. When it comes to our turf we now have the ability to feed our turf on our terms. Bentgrass is deep rooted and has access to soil fertility at pretty significant depths. Because of this bentgrass turf generally needs very little fertility in the spring and fall when stress is low and plants are photosynthesizing at a high rate. However, when the summer stress period comes the plants ability to find their own fertility are limited and we must supply the plant with the small amount of fertility it needs.