Tee To Green April

24th April 2023

The latest news from The Downs and Park Courses Head Greenkeepers.

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The Downs Course 

As we come to the end of April, summer is on the horizon. It was a tough start to the month with more rain, making it the tenth wettest March on record. However, we cannot complain too much, as we have fertilised the tees, aprons, and bunker surrounds and these are growing well thickening up nicely ready for the main playing season. The course is greener than it has been for a few years, which gives a good base to start with.

The greens are currently receiving a weekly sand dusting to improve trueness and speeds. Once this has been achieved, we will look to sand dust fortnightly to keep the greens consistent throughout the summer.

During April we have tried to recover a few tees which have taken a lot of wear over a busy winter period. These were on the 6th and 12th Orange tees. Although we have not had full recovery to the whole tee area, they have improved and recovery from divoting will be easier in the upcoming months. Thank you for your patience with the temporary tee box on the 6th. We have also applied a half rate slow-release organic granular fertiliser to the tees to aid in seed germination for the next eight weeks.

This month we have also applied a selective herbicide to tees, aprons, fairways, and bunkers to address our aggressive weed issue. This will be followed up by a spot treatment in due course, to remove any more unwanted weeds.

The greens have recovered well after the greens maintenance which was completed in early March. We are now down to our summer height of cut (HOC) of 3.5mm. We have also used plant growth regulators over the last few months to aid in poa seed repression. For those who remember, our greens in the spring used to be white with seed heads and very bumpy. Use of the growth regulators suppresses the seed heads however application timing is crucial to maximize the effectiveness of this. Normally this is applied around the 130-growth degree day (GGD). Then 14 days following that. Growing Degree Days (GDD) are used to estimate the growth and development of plants during the growing season.

Our focus now turns to cutting regimes, course presentation and as always plant health. We also have an additional Greenkeeper joining the team in May, which will take The Downs team to nine full time staff, including myself.

Fairways starting to green up as we head into the main playing season.
Sand dusting the greens
Definition progression during Spring

Looking forward to seeing you on the course.

Rob Dyer, Head Greenkeeper, The Downs Course

The Park Course 

We took advantage of the recent warm weather to start some vital maintenance on aprons and greens. A full hollow core programme was achieved.

What is hollow coring?

Hollow coring is the removal of plugs/cores from the playing surface, this can be various diameter and depths depending on how aggressive the task needs to be.

Why does it need to be done?

With the volume of golf that is played on our greens the ground becomes compacted meaning drainage is less efficient and the root system becomes a lot shallower due to being starved of enough oxygen. Creating the core holes allows air, moisture and nutrients to be absorbed more easily. This task also helps the reduction of thatch.

What is thatch?

Thatch- is a (organic) layer of grass roots, stems and debris that accumulate over a period of time. A thin layer is acceptable but too much thatch will hold water like a sponge. 

Once the hollow cores have been cleared from the surface, sand will be brushed into the holes to replace the removed material and dilute thatch and restore levels and firmness which will improve drainage and the overall quality and health of the greens profile.

Danny getting his steps in with our pedestrian aerator. We removed the top 25mm of organic layer.
How the green looked when he had finished with all the cores ready to be removed.
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Scott top dressing using 1.5 tonne of sand per green We can now leave the greens to recover over the next few days allowing growth to push through the dressing.
After 10 days we will apply another 7 tone of sand to fill in any imperfections.
 Next it was the aprons turn, using a slightly bigger tine removimng the top 25mm of organic material.
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Looking forward to seeing you on the course.

Simon Berry, Head Greenkeeper, The Park Course

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