September has been a busy month for golf. Greens at the start of the month were in good condition and we had constantly good green speeds and trueness. We are now in a high-pressure period for disease. With the drought conditions in the summer and issues with had with water resource, the plant health is weaker than I would like it to be at this stage of the year. Small patches of disease have started to creep in and we have been trying to control this with the use of soluble iron and an application of fungicide. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, a lot of fungicides have been taken off the market and the ones still available are not as strong as they used to be. Next year to help with disease control we will be changing to organic fertilisers which will help with creating good microbiology in the soil. This will help prevent disease, however, it will take a few years of building this up to see the benefits, but we need to start this process now to be able to use less fungicides in the future.
This month we have concentrated on the fairway and apron recovery. We have tera raked the surface to cut into the profile and remove any dead matter. This was followed by a rotary cut to remove any lateral growth which was standing up. We then overseeded using a fairway seed mix drilled into the upper profile. Also, wetting agent has been applied to rehydrate the soil. We will be following this up with a liquid feed to increase the recovery rate and try to thicken the sward in the bare areas.
With our maintenance this month we could not apply the 15 tonnes of sand needed to reach our yearly target. This was due to the 61mm of rain we had in the three days prior to maintenance and also rain on the day itself meaning the sand would not dry enough to be brushed in. Also with the disease pressure being high, applying sand would be like rubbing sandpaper over a wound. It’s the same with the plant, it would cut open the plant and allow the disease to spread quicker. We did manage to get some air into the soil profile using 10mm solid tines to a depth of 100mm. Also, we have put a lot of air into the top part of the profile by micro slitting over the last two weeks. We also scarified the bare areas on the aprons and overseeded, fertilised and top dressed these areas.
Badger damage this month has been minimal. Although we still have a slight problem with the mammals, there are only small areas being ripped up.
Bunkers have been a big issue this month as we had extremely dry weather at the start of the month which made the original sand in the bunkers very unstable, meaning a lot of movement in the sand. Some days the bunkers were smoothly raked to not contaminate them more. After that, with the 61mm of rain coming down in three days we had a lot of wash down from the banks which needed to be shovelled up. I know the bunkers are an issue on the course, but we do try our best to move the sand to the thinner areas as much as we can.
The forestry work on the left side of the 13th has now been completed. The Head Forester and I will now work on a planting scheme to regenerate the woodland with trees best suited to its location and to keep in the characteristics of the South Downs. This will be presented to The Duke for his approval.
At the end of October, we will be continuing with our bunker renovation work. This will involve removing the current sand, reshaping the bunker base, turfing the bunker base, growing in and then the new china clay sand installed. We will have a team working on the renovation throughout the winter months.
Look forward to seeing you on the course!
Rob Dyer, Head Greenkeeper, The Downs Course
The Park Course
This month, we had had 154mm of rain, compared to just 30 that we had this time last year. The majority of the rainfall fell during the final week of September which meant for a very wet week on the course! This month, we have been up to the following: