Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Unseasonable weather

Spring is on hold at present whilst we endure this late cold spell.  This morning we had a series of wintry showers that put a stop to hand mowing the greens, hopefully we'll have better luck tomorrow morning.  The cold weather is likely to remain with us for a few more days but hopefully things will warm up once we get into May and we'll get some much needed grass growth.

The 16th green this morning - mid blizzard

Dawn chorus walk

Last Thursday morning we had a dawn chorus walk led by Steve Piotrowski.  Steve is one of Suffolk's leading experts on birds, he's the author of the Birds of Suffolk, and leads training courses from beginner to advanced level.  On a cool morning we saw and heard a total of 35 species of birds and gained many insights into bird identification by sight and sound.  Nightingales seem to be doing very well on the course, we heard seven singing males and actually managed to get good views of one, which is unusual.  Other highlights were our first cuckoo of the spring and good numbers of linnet.  Steve was impressed by the work we've done on heathland and scrub management as this has enhanced the site as a habitat for birds and other wildlife.

The nightingales will be singing on the course for the next few weeks, for those of you who are not sure what a nightingale sounds like, here's a link to the nightingale pages of the xeno-canto website.
Nightingale song  xeno-canto is an excellent resource for anyone interested in birds - there are thousands of recordings of a very wide range of bird songs and calls.

Steve Piotrowski's bird track record of species and numbers of birds seen on the walk

Monday, 11 April 2016

Renovation of approaches

We've been renovating the approaches over the last week as part of our programme of work to improve these areas.  There is a lot of coarse and weed grass in the four or five metres in front of many greens and our aim is to fine these down and introduce more fine grasses.  This week we have hollow cored, followed by top dressing and over-seeding with fine fescue.

Antony hollow coring on the 15th

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Top dressing greens

We've top dressed the greens this week, top dressing is an essential part of our greens maintenance programme which improves putting surfaces and benefits turf health.  Top dressing gives us smoother, truer, faster, firmer and more consistent greens.  It promotes upright growth and a tighter more fine textured sward.

Regular top dressing also helps us to control the level of organic matter in the soil by diluting it and creating conditions conducive to organic matter breakdown.  This is important because if organic matter levels build up we get soft, thatchy surfaces, reduced playing quality and plant health issues such as disease, water retention and impeded drainage.   Our target range for organic matter levels in the greens' root-zone  is 4% to 6% and we're currently at 7% to 8%.

We've been using Fendress, a mixture of sand and fen soil to top dress the greens since 1989. Continuity is important with top top dressing to prevent layering in the soil profile which causes a number of problems such as root breaks and impeded drainage.

We aim to put about 100 tonnes per year of top dressing on the main course greens, usually in six applications spaced four to six weeks apart.  The actual rate on the day varies from half a tonne per green to a tonne per green depending on factors such as grass growth rate, weather conditions, fixtures and whether we have done renovation work such as aeration or over-seeding.

Timing of top dressing application depends on a number of factors.  Firstly grass growth is required so that the material can be incorporated into the base of the sward.  Weather conditions play a big part as we can't top dress effectively if it is raining or the greens are wet.  The timing of the programme is also affected by major golf events and other fixtures, we would not normally top dress during the three weeks before a major event.

After top dressing we rarely cut the next day and for a few days we use an old mower to prevent the blades of our best mower from being blunted by the sand.

Jerry top dressing the 15th green

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Weather summary for March

 The average temperature for the month was 6.64° which is slightly warmer than average but as is often the case the average hides some big fluctuations in temperature.  The first couple of weeks of the month were very cold and this was actually the coldest spell of the winter, the weather then turned much milder.  March was only half a degree warmer than January and just over half a degree warmer than February.  The highest temperature was 13.7° on the 25th and the lowest  -0.6° on the 16th.  There was 43.8mm of rainfall which is about 7mm more than average.