From The Green-Keeping Team
As we near the end of August and swiftly move into September, another month has come and passed just like that. It’s more evident now with the daylight hours reducing and FINALLY, the temperatures are cooling down, with projected rain forecast for the coming weeks.
Having reached temperatures in excess of 37c onsite, it is a welcome reprieve to be settling back into more stable conditions. All in, the course held up relatively well to the temperatures, with only a few areas on the edges of greens and tees browning off. With part of the irrigation system malfunctioning and now non-operational, we heavily relied on the team to hand water the hot spots on the greens with hoses and wetting agent application gun and use the hand irrigation keys on each head to keep parts of the course watered and moisture levels high.
Typical irrigation cycles are usually run either in the middle of the evening or early morning before sunrise. These timed applications help reduce the loss of water through evaporation and give a greater opportunity for water to soak through the upper profile and reach the root structure. At times we had to apply water in the middle of the day just to keep certain areas cooled down and moisture levels up, but ultimately this is not the best practice due to, as mentioned above, the evaporation of water being much higher.
To date, we have only had 354mm of rain this year, which in comparison to the same period last year, of 696mm, it’s near enough half the amount of rainfall this year.
On the course this month we carried out our annual summer course renovations, again over the same two weeks as it has always been booked in for.
It is always crucial for us to carry out the essential works at this time of year due to the quick recovery times and to make sure the greens are in the best condition possible going into the autumn and winter.
This year we really hit into the greens hard. This comprised of scarifying the greens down to 20mm below the surface. This was a targeted approach to remove the usual thatch build-up that comes from the management of greens.
I chose the scarifying route this year over hollow coring as we find that scarifying targets the exact area we want to reduce, and that is the thatch layer. As much as hollow coring the greens do remove thatch, its efficiency is much less and is more of a soil exchange strategy as opposed to organic material removal.
Once the greens had been scarified and blown clear, an application of sand based top dressing was applied at 30 Tonnes a Hectare. This was then brushed into the linear lines left from scarification and will ultimately help dilute the remaining thatch level and create a firmer truer surface. To finish this was followed up with rolling iron to settle back down and protruding areas.
Next, the green were treated to a deep aeration with solid tines to help relieve compaction build up, which again comes from normal day to day play on these greens. The relief of compaction not only allows the upper and lower soil structure to release natural gas build up in the soil but then encourages new rooting to develop in the spacing and help water percolations rates.
Another application of topdressing was made at 15 Tonnes per Hectare, to fill in the areas where the first sand application had migrated and needed a top up, but to also infill the aeration holes with a material which promotes free drainage and root development.
Further to this, we began the over seeding procedure on all greens using a hired in machine to sow new seed along linear openings created via disc application. We applied a seed mixture of browntop and creeping bent grasses. These fine-leaved, dence growing grasses are a predominant grass found in golf greens. These new species of grass have been bred to have higher tolerance to drought and diseases, along with creating and more consistent, fineness of leaf and improved playing surface.
Most greens are dominant in native Annual Meadow grasses, but these do not have the same levels of tolerances to the above and in our industry, they are actually referred to as a grass weed. They are very visible in early spring when they develop their white seed heads.
As I write this, we are 11 days post seed application and it has been a very successful germination process. All greens are showing successful signs of germination. This is very evident to anyone looking over the greens. You will see long, linier lines of light green grass popping through the existing sward. This is now in its later stages or germination and begins the next phase of establishment.
This is where the new grass will begin tillering out and intertwine with the existing sward of grasses, along with developing root structuring of there own to sustain its development going forward.
To help this development, we make cultural practice adjustments which include raising the Height of Cut on the greens mower to 4mm from 3mm, cease any grooming cutting and topdressing for the next month.
The less aggravation we can inflict upon the surface during the establishment phase, the higher percentage of overall take of the new grass.
We are still able to carry our turf iron practices on the green to ensure the loss of pace is minimised and ensures trueness of surface is maintained.
Due to the excessive high temperatures during the renovation week, we made the decision not to apply any granular fertiliser on the greens due to the higher chance of scorch and reduced chance that the fertiliser granule would struggle to break down and move into the soil structure due to the lack of rain and moisture.
However, on the 26th August we found a window of opportunity to apply the fertiliser after a few days of showers preceding it. This helped soften the surface and along with 3 days of irrigation programmes, the fertiliser has broken down and will aid further recovery on the greens along with feeding the new seed on the greens.
We also took delivery of further new machinery this month. Nearly a year to date from when the purchase order was placed; we finally had our new utility vehicle and sprayer attachment delivered. This further £56,000 investment in to our inventory of machines is very much welcome one.
In comparison to our old sprayer, which is over 15 years old, this new sprayer and utility combination comprise of an automatic rate adjustment system along with extensive computer controls to greatly improve accuracy and efficiency to our spraying practices.
Also fitted with a foam blob system, this is used as an indication marker to identify the area sprayed. Leaving a foam blob on the surface will greatly help with identifying where has been sprayed, especially on larger areas of fairways and rough which cover a larger space.
And finally, it does give me great pleasure to announce from the week commencing October 3rd, the new owner has approved the installation of an extensive new drainage system on the 9th hole. This is to be carried out by a professional sports turf drainage and construction company called Turfdry, who we have been consulting with for nearly a year now.
This will be a full drainage installation, starting from the carry in front of the 9th tee, all the way up to the banking of the green.
At a cost of £32,000 for drainage works, along with £11,000 for land topographical reports, this is another show of intent from our owner of the seriousness he is willing to invest into our club. This to help progress the club and make improvements to our weakest areas, which as we all know is our drainage situation during the winter.
The intension of the work being carried out on the 9th fairway is to show how effective this drainage system can be on one of our worst fairways during the winter.
This is the beginning of an overall larger plan to drain the worst holes across the whole course over the next 5 years.
I will be releasing a more extensive description and break down of the works being carried out in the next few weeks.