The latest from our Head Greenkeepers from both courses.
The Downs Course
As I write this blog the weather has started to change and the forecast is for a dry first week in February which is pleasing to see. We had to shut the course for one day in January due the amount of rainfall we had over one night, adding to the amount we have had in the past few months. Buggies have been red on a few days for safety reasons but also because of the damage they would of caused on the surfaces.
January rainfall was recorded at 95mm. The course is starting to look a bit worn with the amount of traffic we have on it. Although it is nice to have a mostly dry course, the down side is that the tee sheet is full and with the grass growth rate slow, it takes a lot longer to recover areas, some having to wait until spring.
We have divoted our tees a few times in the last month, however after a few heavy downpours, the rain washes the divot mix out and we have to start again. Please help look after the course by repairing any pitch marks on the greens, replacing any divots taken from the fairways and follow any traffic management signs or instructions on the buggies. Please do not walk under any roped off areas, as they are roped off for a reason. Please see an article on course etiquette here with more information on how we can look after the course together.
The 6th green has been verti-drained, hollow cored, had root zone amendment applied, top dressed and brushed in by hand and a light fertiliser applied to aid recovery. The 2nd, 10th and 15th greens are planned to have maintenance completed in February and a temporary green will be in place whilst we carry out this vital maintenance.
The 5th tee has now been turfed, as well as the left side of the 4th apron. This will take a few months to knit in so please keep off any new turf. The bunker renovation on holes 13 and 14 have now grown in and will be sprayed off to kill the bases. We will then strim them down tight and add the new sand. We also finished turfing the final two bunkers on the 12th, which is now roped off to grow in. This month we aim to do bunker renovations on holes 9, 10 and 15. Therefore some temporary greens may be in place for safety reasons. We have started topping up some bunkers last month, starting with the two green side bunkers on the 18th. Unfortunately after a few days we had 21mm of rain in one night which washed the bunker down again, therefore we will need to do it again.
We have continued with our nutrition programme with liquid feeding, soluble iron and wetting agent to keep the plant as healthy as possible. Also with this we have sorrel rolled the greens on a weekly basis and have also aerated the greens with 10mm solid tines which has proved beneficial. However, we still have had a hit of disease, which we will keep an eye on. Again we struggled with the weather to spray some soluble iron, as after some persistent rain we had fog and drizzle for a few days with temperatures above 9 Celsius which is the perfect breeding ground for disease pathogens.
The landscaping work which has been done on holes 2, 3, and 5 has now been dressed and seeded. Please do not walk through these areas until the grass has established and the ropes are down. Early this month contractors will be working on the left side of the 13th clearing all the debris from the ash die back tree felling. Once cleared, the area will be planted with 240 tree whips to re-generate the woodland. Also we have lowered the hedge on the left side of the 11th purple tee opening up the views. This hedge had become partially messy with brambles and weeds and needed to be cleared. Tee banks are also being strimmed to reduce the thickness of the rough dense sward. These will be sprayed with selective weed killer in the spring to create a more wispy area, which will hopefully encourage some more wild flowers on the banks.
We have had a lot of problems with the 18th fairway, as mentioned in my last blog. We have managed to cut the fairway twice since, which has been pleasing although it did make quite a bit of mess which had to be blown off three times per cut with our turbo blowers. We have not been able to top dress the area with sand yet, as it is still too wet to get our top dressing machine on it. Once dry enough we will run this machine over and will start dressing the fairway to improve the surface and start to change the profile in the soil. Hopefully deterring the worms.
The badgers have caused less damage this month with only small pockets of damage being created. Hopefully it will remain this way for the foreseeable future. Although the badgers have caused less damage, there has been a significant rise in deer and bird damage to the greens, apron and tee surfaces, as well as the bunkers. The birds are trying to find grubs in the soil. As I have mentioned many times before about the ban of using insecticides, there is little we can do on the matter and have to clean up and repair whenever damage is done.
Look forward to seeing you on the course!
Rob Dyer, Head Greenkeeper, The Downs Course
The Park Course
The greens received a sorrel roll three times throughout the month. This is a small spike that pricks the surface to the depth of 1”, we also pencil tined using 10mm tines to the depth of 4”. The tees were given a verti-drain, tines going in to the depth of 10” to relieve compaction and allow air through the profile. We have also sprayed sulphate iron on the greens, Tees and Aprons which has helped harden the plant against potential disease.
We have continued our work with bunkers on the 4th,5thand 6th which are now filled in ready to be landscaped. Unfortunately, due to the 115mm of rain we have received the bunker work had to be put on hold until ground conditions improved. With this, it allowed us to focus our attention to clearing some woodland areas around the course. Brambles were cleared and we raised the canopy to allow better airflow and sunlight to the surface. Having these areas cleared also will benefit speed of play.
Another issue we have been focusing on is with sunken irrigation heads. We have completed over 20 heads and moving forward these will be far more visible and effective.
Away from the day to day running of the golf course, we took the opportunity to network with other Head greenkeepers and course managers to enhance our knowledge and to understand best practices and techniques in attending B.T.M.E. (British Turf Management Exhibition), attending various seminars including a presentation on personality traits by our Manager Phil Helmn.
The pitch mark problem isn't getting any better and this time of year it takes longer to recover and even longer if ignored!! Please repair your pitch marks.