Reminders of fall golf in the Cape Region

September 27, 2013

Autumn officially arrived in the Cape Region Sept. 22, and with it came some of the usual signs of fall golf in this area.

The Rookery Golf Club’s maintenance staffers are busy completing the last few aerifications of the 36 holes under their charge. The first 18 were done not long ago at The Rookery South. The 18 holes at The Rookery North were scheduled to be completed by Sept. 24.

Aerification is normally a twice-per-year activity at the Cape Region’s golf courses. It is a necessary element of maintaining healthy turf, especially on the greens.

With the grass leaves cut so short on these surfaces, healthy and deep roots are a must to keep the plants alive. Half-inch-deep plugs cut into the turf help restore oxygen access, remove excess thatch from the daily cuttings, and reduce the soil compaction that inevitably occurs from golfers walking over the surface.

A coat of top mix spread over the greens fills the plugs, while giving the remaining root structures a place to go.

The cooler overnight temperatures also signal the Bermuda fairways at The Rookery North and elsewhere to begin going dormant. This Southern-oriented turf grass changes color to a pleasing brown tone by late fall, but remains a great playing surface.

Nonetheless, many golfers tend to prefer the sight of green grass, so Rookery Superintendent Chris Adkins experimented with a rye overseed last fall on The Rookery North’s fairways. Rye stays green over the winter, but can’t compete against Bermuda turf in the hot summers.

Adkins was nonetheless a bit surprised at how long the overseed rye lasted into the spring and early summer of 2013, before the Bermuda turf bounced back and crowded it out.

Adkins said he is altering last year’s rye experiment. This week his staff are overseeding the even-numbered fairways with an annual rye hybrid, and overseeding the odd-numbered fairways with a perennial rye mixture.

“I had to keep it simple for myself,” he said. He hopes to learn which rye types will permit an earlier transition to the baseline Bermuda next spring.

Autumn golf in the Cape Region presents a different kind of timing problem than what golfers from other areas usually experience on their home courses.

It is not unusual around here to have a fog delay creep in and slow up the morning starts.

Colder air blowing in from the Atlantic and the Delaware Bay hits the still-warm, moist air a few miles inland, generating a surprising amount of fog. In some years, the local schoolkids miss more time from fog than they do from snow. This same phenomenon can also make an early tee time reservation in September and October more of an expression of hope than actual experience.

Non-local golfers should also expect to see a lot of dew on the course during morning rounds. That means they should be careful about where and how they walk, to prevent slips and falls. They might also consider keeping a second pair of dry socks in their golf bag for the back nine, or in the car for the ride home.

Local club competition results

The Kings Creek Country Club 9-Hole Ladies golf group played Sept. 16. Kathy Nave came in first, followed by Monica Fleischmann in second, Sally Horvath in third, and Pat Devoll in fourth.

Sue Eisenbrey won the closest to the pin contest.

On Sept. 19, the Kings Creek CC 18 Hole Ladies Golf League played a Tee to Green format competition.

Linda Outlaw won first place in the first flight, with Anita Pettitt taking second and Judy Wetzel finishing third.

For the second flight, Rosanne Smith finished in first place, while Brenda Butterfield came in second and Joanne Yurik took third.

Julie Dickson was closest to the pin on the 11th hole, with a shot that ended 12-feet-four-inches from the pin.

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