Saturday, 8 October 2016

Weather summary for September

Another warm and dry month, making three on the trot.  July was the warmest we've recorded, August matched the previous high and so did September.  All three months had well below average rainfall and the September total was 28mm, well short of the 43.3mm average for the month.  Of the 28mm total, 22mm fell in one go on the 16th and 17th so a lot of this would have been lost to drainage and run off.  The average temperature was 17.9°, equaling the previous high for September recorded in 2006.  The highest temperature recorded was 26.3° on the 13th and the lowest 4.6° on the 26th

Friday, 7 October 2016

October course news

In early September we over-seeded the greens with high quality cultivars of fescue and bent grass.  Our aim is to increase the percentage of these grasses in our greens as they are capable of producing a much finer and denser putting surface than older cultivars.  The new 3rd green on the river course is a good example of what we’re striving for, as it was constructed with 100% fescue turf.  After over-seeding the greens required regular irrigation to enable the seed to germinate and to keep the new seedlings alive.  As a consequence of increased irrigation and other work such as top dressing to restore surface levels after the over-seeding the greens were much slower for the first couple of weeks of September and this dropped the average for the month to 8ft 1in - quite a contrast with the 10ft 9in average for August.  Once the new seed established, irrigation was stopped and the green speed increased to 9ft as they dried out.  Todays speed (6th Oct) is 9ft 8in and as it’s windy we’ve used a plastic tunnel to get more accurate readings.  Wind has a net slowing effect on stimpmeter readings even though the reading is an average of two rolls in opposite directions.  This was well illustrated today as on the exposed 14th there was a 10in difference in the speed with and without wind protection but on the sheltered 18th there was no difference.

A selective weed-killer (Rescue) that knocks out coarse Ryegrass and Yorkshire Fog in turf was applied to the immediate green surrounds and a few metres of the approach to the greens.  Coarse grass in these areas has been a long standing issue and we’re committed to improving this area of weakness.  The impact on the coarse grasses has been good and although many areas look patchy at present, they have been over-seeded and new finer grasses should fill in the gaps.  Getting  rid of the coarse grass completely will probably take several years but in subsequent years the impact will not be as great as for this first application. 

We’ve also undertaken another trial of using Rescue on the main course greens.  Theoretically this should be an excellent product for us, enabling us to bring about significant improvements to the greens by removing the coarser grasses.  Unfortunately, in practice things are a little more difficult.  Rescue can also have a strong negative impact on Highland bent, an old grass cultivar that makes up a significant percentage of our greens.  Although our greens would be improved in the long term by replacing Highland bent with modern cultivars the negative impact on the greens by removing it in one go would be considerable.  For this trial we’ve given the greens a little more fertiliser and water than normal, as other golf clubs have found that this reduces the impact on Highland.  It’s too early to tell how successful this has been but the early signs are good.

Course maintenance highlights during September
o   The greens over-seeding was very successful with very obvious lines of new seedlings coming through.
o   The first couple of weeks after seeding were very dry so regular irrigation was needed to encourage germination and keep the new seedlings alive.
o   The greens were top dressed twice, first immediately after seeding and then two weeks later
o   Topping up bunkers with sand continued
o   Rescue was sprayed on green surrounds and approaches to remove coarse grass
o   Rescue was applied to the river course greens, the 7th green on the main course and parts of the 8th and 11th greens.
o   Bracken spraying with Asulox continued
o   Gorse and bramble in the rough was sprayed with selective weed-killer.

Work programme for October
Renovation work to the areas of green surrounds and approaches treated with Rescue will include hollow coring, over-seeding and top dressing towards the end of the month.  Selective weed killer will be applied to some of the fairways, and work will continue on spraying encroaching gorse and bramble.
The final top dressing of the greens this year is scheduled for the week beginning the 24th October.
The programme of regular aeration work will start and this will continue throughout the winter and spring.  This aeration using deep tines alternating with shallower but more closely spaced tines is vital to combat the compaction caused by players and machinery. 

Our winter work programme will commence at the end of the month.  This winter rebuilding the 1st and 8th tees and levelling the 6th tee are the main priorities, together with the replacement of sprinklers on 2 or 3 holes.  We are also extending the irrigation system on the 2nd and 14th fairways to reflect the current playing lines and alongside the putting green/club house to improve conditions in this heavily trafficked area. 

STRI Inspection

The Clubs agronomist are due to carry out their annual visit to the course on 18th October.  This provides us with excellent impartial feedback on the condition of the course versus their huge database of courses across the UK including the Open Championship venues.  They also provide invaluable advice in connection with the ongoing maintenance and improvement regimes.  Their report will be available in the Club House and on the web site in due course.