Thursday, 22 September 2016

Renovation work

It's three weeks since we over-seeded the greens and the results have been spectacularly good.  Lines of fine fescue seedlings are clearly visible on all of the greens particularly when the sun is low in the mornings and evenings.  For the first two weeks after seeding we kept the moisture level in the greens a little higher than our usual target to enable the new seedlings to germinate and get established.  The higher moisture level combined with high temperatures resulted in lush grass growth and slower greens over this period.  Now that the seed is well established we can dry the greens out a little more but we still need to provide enough moisture to support the new seedlings.  We also applied Rescue to the first three or four metres of approach and the collars of the greens, to kill off the coarse ryegrass in these areas.  This has also worked well and we've been putting in lots of seed to replace the rye with the over-seeder and by hand where required. Getting rid of the ryegrass completely will probably take a few years of repeat applications but subsequent applications will not have as dramatic an impact as the first.  We're also trialling rescue on some of the main course greens but it's too early to assess the results.  The 7th green has been sprayed, the front part of the 8th and the left side of the 11th, the treated areas look quite pale at present but the colour should come back over the next couple of weeks.

Fescue seed coming through on a green surround
Lines of seed coming through on an area of green treated with Rescue
Creating slots for the seed mix
Spreading top dressing mixed with seed
The 11th green with the Rescue treated area on the right

Late summer wildlife

There's a lot of wildlife around the course at present, the ivy bushes are literally buzzing with insect life on sunny afternoons, with large numbers of butterflies, bees and hoverflies taking advantage of this late season nectar source.  Reptiles are enjoying the warm weather and can be seen basking in sunny spots sheltered from any breeze.

There are at least 11 butterflies in this photo, mainly red admirals but there's a peacock and a couple of small coppers too

An adder on the right and grass snake on the left, the first time I've seen them together
Another adder, this one a little larger, in the afternoon sun

Friday, 2 September 2016

September course news

The dry spell that started in July continued into August (14mm August rainfall) and we’ve kept the greens relatively dry.  As always when our greens are dry the pace of the greens picks up and during August green speeds were generally between 10ft and 11ft, with an average of 10ft 9in and a high of 13ft 4in.  13ft is the upper limit (some would say beyond!) of playability for our greens, with very few workable pin positions and the likelihood that balls would blow off greens if any breeze picks up.  It’s worth noting, that the very high green speeds we’ve seen over the last few weeks are a side effect of drying out the greens to favour the finer grasses, we haven’t dried them out to get more speed.  Our routine target for green speed is between 8ft and 10ft but we aim to keep them above 9ft whenever possible.

Course maintenance highlights during August
·         The greens have been over-seeded this week
·         Irrigation was required on greens, tees and fairways. 
·         Topping up bunkers with sand
·         Mowing the denser areas of rough and removing the clippings, particularly where players are unable to reach the fairway off the tee.
·         Bracken spraying with Asulox

Work programme for September

Our main aim for the next week or two is to promote recovery from the over-seeding work and get the greens back to normal as soon as possible.  As soon as the top dressing that was applied this week has integrated into the sward, we’ll do another light top dressing to smooth out the putting surfaces.  The greens will be a little slower for a while as we increase irrigation to boost germination of the seed.

We have delayed the application of Rescue to the approaches as it is unwise to apply this product during a dry spell.  It selectively kills ryegrass and other coarse grasses in turf but will kill other grasses if they are under stress.  This work will be carried out over the next two weeks.  After treatment the areas will thin out for a while with some bare patches and a general yellowing of the turf but they should recover after a few weeks.  The approaches will be over-seeded with a mixture of fine fescue grasses with high wear and drought tolerance.  Bracken control will continue using Asulox and we’ll be spraying off encroaching scrub and brambles.  We’ve just started a programme of replacing worn out sprinklers as most of them are now 18 years old and are becoming unreliable.  Work has started on the 10th hole and we intend to replace the sprinklers on two or three holes per year.

Weather summary for August

August was very warm and dry, the average temperature was 18.3° which matches our previous high, recorded in 2009, we also recorded our second warmest August temperature with 28.5° on the 12th.
The lowest temperature was 7.1° on the 15th and this was the lowest August figure we've ever recorded.  Rainfall was very low with a total of 14.2mm, well below the 48.8mm average.


We've just completed over-seeding of greens to introduce modern cultivars of fine fescue and bent grass into the greens.  The fine grasses we're introducing will help us develop a denser more fine leaved sward.  Modern grass cultivars bred for use in golf greens perform much better than the varieties that were used many years ago when our greens were constructed.  This is not a quick fix but a long term strategy for developing smoother truer and more robust putting greens.  The over-seeding was followed by rolling to help restore surface levels and then top dressing.  We'll top dress again as soon as the current dressing has been integrated into the sward.

Overseeding in two directions
Vibro rolling after seeding
Top dressing
Brushing in