The latest from both courses from our Head Greenkeepers
The Downs Course
In November with the temperatures still mild and heavy dews in the morning, the grass has continued to grow well into the later stages of the month, where the temperatures dropped and our first frosts started to form. This has been good for recovery where seed has repaired areas, however these conditions puts stress on the greens, due to the ideal environment for disease. This being said the greens are relatively clean due to our prevention programme, with a small outbreak in the last week of November, which has been minimal. Looking forward we will continue with this programme, as well as adding some beneficial cultural practices to the greens to aid them through the winter months with the anticipated high traffic in mind. These practices will include verti-draining the greens using a 12mm tine to a depth of 200mm, followed by a 8mm needle tine to a depth of 75mm, to keep any excess moisture moving through the soil profile. We will also apply a penetrate wetting agent to assist in moving any water down and keeping the greens as dry and firm as possible.
We started our final stage of the bunker project at the end of the month. We will remove the existing sand, re-shape the base, install upside down turf as a base, then fill with the new china clay sand. We look to complete these bunkers early in the New Year, weather depending that is.
The 18th fairway has been shock waved this month, which is a deep aeration process with minimal disturbance to the surface. This has proved to have worked well, with the addition of a granular fertiliser, the fairway remains strong, with a good sward compared to previous years. Please keep all buggies on the pathway on this hole (as well as the 1st and 17th) as these are some of the wettest areas of the course and need to be protected.
You will notice on the course an increase in traffic management, this is put out to protect the course and high traffic areas so please follow any guidance and respect the course.
With that in mind please be mindful of repairing pitch marks on the greens. As the greens become softer in the winter months, pitch marks become more of an issue. An unrepaired pitch mark will scar the green, leave the surface uneven and allow disease to form around the outside of the mark, which has potential to spread around the course. This was noted on the 12th green this month. More on how to repair your pitch marks can be found here.
You will notice in the upcoming months that we will stripe our fairways again, this is to provide a tighter sward, by cutting in multiple directions, it will also add a bit of definition, as the grass colour decreases over the winter due to reduced sunlight. In the spring the fairway cut will go back to half and half, which is more in keeping with a Downland course.
Look forward to seeing you on the course!
Rob Dyer, Head Greenkeeper, The Downs Course
The Park Course
A challenging but very productive couple of months. This time of year does pose a lot of issues for us to deal with including; weather, badger damage, worm damage, disease pressure and of course lots and lots of leaves!
Let’s start with the weather, a very wet and warm October. 150mm of rain fell in the month which of course opens the door for the worms and The Park Course being on soil is a perfect habitat for them.
What are we doing about them?
The good news is we applied a turf conditioner that has helped in areas around the greens and parts of the fairways which has seen an improvement from last year in playability and a reduction in casts. Normal routine mowing causes the casts to smear so mowing less frequent and brush in dry conditions helps to disperse them. To help with drainage, reduce thatch and of course worms on the fairways we have started an aeration programme with slitting. Once with a small slit to about 3” and once with a deep slit to about 10” we will be carrying out this maintenance again in spring.
Greens The greens are in fantastic condition and are disease free, our preventative and nutrition programmes are certainly doing the trick. We have taken the opportunity on our maintenance days to deep tine the greens with a verti-drain to relieve compaction and aid drainage. Any aeration through these disease pressure months is key. As the temperatures get cooler, we have raised our height of cut and reduced our mowing so not to add unnecessary stress.
Badger damage is also something we are dealing with in the mornings so please be patient with us as we have a lot to repair.
Leaves A large apple tree holds 50,000 to 100,000 leaves. A normal birch averages around 200,000 leaves. An old oak, for which we have several have 700,000 leaves. So, bear this in mind when you see them on the ground and spare a thought for us. We have billions to pick up.
Why do we cut and collect our natural areas?
Thins out and removes unwanted weeds/coarse grasses.
Allows natural fescue grasses a chance to grow by not being over powered by the coarser grasses.
Allows wild flowers to flourish.
Gives the courses definition whilst still maintaining its playability.
Carried out this time of year so it doesn't impact on nesting birds or wildlife.
See you on the course!
Simon Berry, Head Greenkeeper, The Park Course
The Park Course
The Park Course winds effortlessly around the beautiful 18th Century parkland surrounding Goodwood House.