It's here at last - the highlight of the years golfing calendar - The Open and looking at the weather headlines it's set to be a scorcher.
I love The Open because we get to see golf played on some great natural sites and the weather plays a big role in how the event pans out.
After a years delay due to the COVID situation I wish the best of luck to Paul and his team as well as all the volunteers and support crew who have dived into to ensure this event runs smoothly.
Both the quality of Royal St Georges, the hard work and expertise of Paul and his team cannot be questioned but the third part of the equation - the weather doesn't always play ball!
So how has 2021 played out?
Well at first glance the headlines look like it will be a scorcher - News papers are full of news of a heat wave that seems to have fallen at the right time for this event.
If we dig a little deeper we can see that the MetOffice is predicting some pretty decent temperatures this weekend but on close inspection I'm not sure the super high temps forecast are going to reach Royal St Georges on the coastline but it looks like a pretty decent and dry week which is great news.
A look at the build up to the event gives us a better indication of what to expect, It's easy to associate a traditional open with that dry burnt up look with some nice signs of stress about that's not always the normal situation and looking at the build up to the 2021 Open we can see the weather hasn't been particularly stressful this year.
Temperatures have been a bit disappointing in general this year, the Spring certainly wasn't the kindest. April and May felt pretty cold and that's reflected in the temperature data too. The above graph shows the high temp (top of the white line), low temp (bottom of the white line) and the average (red line). You can see the minimum temperatures hovering around 0c until around the 10th May and temperatures not consistently reaching 15c until 28th May!
We did enter a period of decent heat through the first half of June but that halted around the 18th June and maximum temperatures have stayed between 20c and 25c ever since. These are great growing conditions but not great stress conditions.
When looking at this kind of build up we can't do it without looking at rainfall.
That first half of June when we seeing high temperatures was also coupled with low rainfall although May was pretty damp so soil moisture levels would have been high running into that month.
The above graph is the rainfall figures and below shows the Evapotranspiration for the same period.
The two graphs go hand in hand and support the stressfull period through early June but since then its been pretty nice conditions to sustain plant health.
But let's not forget the benefits that a site like Royal St Georges is blessed with, it's a heavily contoured, incredibly free draining site, with lots of approach height turf surrounding all the putting surfaces. Couple this with the dedication and expertise of by Paul and his team I'm sure the dry week will ensure we'll see an exciting, firm and fast event - Although I suspect those long grasses may be a little thicker that Paul had hoped for.
The rest of the country?
For the rest of us slightly in land who are likely to see the extremes of the weekends heat here's a blog looking at best ways to manage the extreme temperatures that we may experience.
In summary though......
- Go in healthy – Stressed turf will always struggle more during these periods
- Ensure moisture is within your optimum range (not too wet or too dry)
- If you can skip cuts to reduce stress do so
- Avoid stressful operations like verti-cutting, topdressing and dragging
- Be aware of Anthracnose (have a plan – now is a critical period)
- Ensure you’re in the correct nutrition zone (noting these hot humid spells can quickly end in thunderstorms and a flush of N)
- Allocate as much labour to hand watering as possible – remember though little and regular is the key – the aim isn’t to overly wet turf but to simply to cool them down and keep them in the right moisture range
- Try to undertake any work on surfaces before the light levels reach stressful levels (mid morning)
- Use Ryder to help manage the light stress imparted on your turf
- Utilise Amino Acids (Hicure) to help the plant in these periods when it can’t produce enough of it’s own Aminos to cope with the stresses
- And finally - slap on that sunscreen
Best of luck Paul and the huge team of people involved - I'm going to turn on the TV and enjoy the fruits of your labour.