From Dave Taylor, Courses Manager: As I started my last newsletter with excitement about the onset of rain after such a long dry period. I write this in hope that we have seen enough from the heavens!
To date in May, we have had more rain than the combined totals of February, March and April all put together. We are running at more than 140mm of rain, or five inches. Two inches of that came down within three days over May 21st to 24th.
Unfortunately, this meant we had to close the course due to excessively wet ground conditions — it was just not fit, or safe, for play. Thankfully, the forecast for the next couple weeks looks like we are back on track with higher minimal and maximum temperatures.
The conditions we have experienced through May are typical of what you get in April. The Southwest is usually synonymous with April showers but in that month, we had most days starting under frost and temperatures not rising above 10c, and now we are seeing the usual April weather patterns in May.
This is something that over the last five years has become more apparent, and really does suggest we are experience climate change.
On the course we have seen a huge difference with the rise in temperature. The greens are starting to wake up from dormancy and are beginning to sustain their natural growth patterns in line with higher soil temperatures.
To help kickstart them, we have applied a granular feed that will help thicken out weaker and bobbled areas.
The bobbling is caused by leatherjackets (Crane Fly larvae), which were a major problem last year as well. Not only does their presence lead to turf loss on greens and tees but where they feed on the roots of the grass leads to a collapse in the affected areas, which in turn leads to bobble on greens.
We are still in the same predicament regarding their control. At present, there are no safe-for-use amenity turf chemicals that we can use to stop them from hatching and laying. Products that are available have a strict application clause, which states the area has to be closed off to public for minimum five days. That will only work if there is another covid lockdown, and we don’t want that either.
Many other clubs are suffering with the same issue, which really leaves our industry in a hard place. Our hands are tied behind our back because this is something we have no control over. Add in the cold April, which meant the greens were not growing, and the effect of the leatherjackets has been really heightened.
To counter this, we have applied multiple 10-tonnes top dressings to the greens to reduce the impact of the bobble and so improve the surface. A total of 30 tonnes of sand has been applied in May, along with a compound fertiliser. Both that and the rise in temperatures should see a vast improvement to the greens in the next couple of months.