Rough management

We’ve been out with the flail collector tackling some of the heavier rough areas.

With the warm and wet summer the conditions have been perfect for growing rough!

The heavier areas have been mown down and the clippings removed which will help speed up play and promote the finer grasses.

Over the last two seasons we have worked on a large area of native rough and the cutting and collecting is now really paying dividends. Coarse grass species are being eradicated and fine Fescues, Bents and wildflowers are dominating which is providing more habitat for insects.

Overseeding work

The recent heavy showers of rain have gone a long way to softening the ground. This has allowed the seeder to cut in properly and give the seed soil contact.

The seed is being broadcast at a rate of 8.5g/sqm and most areas have had a single pass.

The aim is to repeat the process 2 or 3 more times throughout the season. This will maximise the the benefits of the seeding work by ensuring at some point conditions will be perfect. It will also be more economical as we will see which areas are recovering naturally allowing us to use the seed elsewhere.

We have completed around 70% of what is required for the first pass, the rain this weekend will allow us to complete the remainder.

We are using a special seed mix which was created on the back of last years drought specifically with more creeping Fescue present to help fill holes in the sward.

The seeder is our heaviest piece of equipment and we’ve recently modified the lift arms on the tractor to allow it to be lifted more comfortably.

The change has vastly improved use of the seeder and increased efficiency as well as putting less strain on the tractor itself.

Once fairways and semi rough areas are complete we will be moving on to tees and green surrounds with the dwarf Ryegrass mix.

This has had a dramatic effect on the surrounds which were previously hard to keep grass cover on by being much more tolerant of wear.

The area to the rear of the 3rd green in particular has benefitted from this seed mix.

In time we will expand out and eventually maintain many of these areas at fairway height.

Greens grooming

We have double groomed the greens over the last two weeks with some specialist units borrowed from Kingsbarns Golf Links.

With twice as many blades as our own verticut units they remove excess vegetation which in turn smooths the surfaces and increases pace.

Any weak or dead material is pulled out of the sward and removed with the stronger growing grass left standing up to be cut.

To further refine the surface we cut with the brushes down to ensure everything was standing vertically and any last loose material pulled out.

Once a week is more than enough for this treatment as it can stress the turf out quite considerably. Each green had a soak with the irrigation after the cut to soothe it slightly!

Spring 2019

It has been a very busy spring on the course with lots going on. Temperatures are on the up and we’ve been receiving regular rainfall which has led to strong growth over the course.

This season we have been mowing with the pedestrian machines as often as possible. The quality of finish is far higher than with the ride-on as the greens are essentially receiving a roll straight behind the cut.

It takes 2 guys around 3 hours to mow the greens by hand and we’ll probably drop a dress size or two by the end of summer.

On the subject of long walks we have also recently completed fertilising fairways. This was done by hand as well and in total the greenstaff walked around 120km applying lawn sand to fairways and semi-roughs.

The feed has given the course a good green colour and really invigorated the turf. The Fescue has responded well and is growing rapidly at the moment.

This has allowed is to brush and cut twice already this season which has further encouraged growth by letting air and light into the turf canopy.

There has been a good amount of recovery from last seasons die back and we have seed in stock now to help fill out the remaining thin areas.

We have enough to overseed several thousand square metres and the worst areas will have 3 to 4 passes to maximise recovery.

One upside to last years dry summer was it highlighted the benefits of using wetting agents. There can be no doubt about their effectiveness when you compare treated vs untreated areas side by side, obvious in the following picture of one of our worst affected areas:

On the back of this we have obviously extended wetting agent use to cover more area as well as adding extra applications.

We have taken advantage of the dry spring weather to apply a good amount of topdressing already. This has gone a long way in helping smooth the surfaces as well as maintain firm greens.

Starting the sand application at 4.30-5am gives us just enough time for it to dry and be rubbed in before the first tee time.

The topdressing is our number one tool for filling disease scars prior to growth starting for the season. The downside to the topdressing is the fact that it is less than kind to mower blades and a lot of time has to be spent keeping them sharp and on cut.

The winter aeration has coupled with all the other work we do to give us stronger growing turf every spring. Recent hole changing shows good root development at the bottom of each plug, the aeration holes being used as channels for growth.

Now that growth is picking up we are routinely feeding the greens/surrounds and applying growth regulator to encourage thickening of the sward. We aim to have the bulk of the growing done in the first half of the year allowing us to reduce nitrogen inputs later in the battle to keep disease away.

In the last 4 years we have only applied one fungicide, something we are very happy with and not something that many courses can say.

Legislation means more and more chemicals are being withdrawn from the market and at some point there will be little to nothing left available for use. The sooner we adapt and learn to live without them the better.

This season the greenstaff numbers 4 full time staff and 2 part time. We are endeavouring to become as efficient as possible and use as many sustainable methods as we can. At a course as busy as Scotscraig this is not always easy with our staff numbers which is why the work done by Brian Gofton and his random task squad is invaluable. They have carried out a full divot of the fairways twice already this season as well as a pile of work on course furniture renovation. Huge thanks to them!

If everyone could repair pitchmarks and rake bunkers that would be much appreciated and a bit less for us to do. Two pitchmarks each and we’d soon have none! If anyone is unsure how to rake a bunker just ask a greenkeeper for a quick demonstration, it’s easier than you thinkā€¦ ;o)

New aeration equipment

We have recently replaced the old vertidrain with a far more modern and efficient version.

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Slightly wider and faster in operation this will allow us to aerate every part of the course from greens to semi-roughs in a much shorter space of time.

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Since arriving we have aerated all the greens and surrounds to a depth of 9″ with 1/2″ solid tines to relieve all the compaction built up during the season. The whole process took around 12 hours and went without any issues.

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The machine was set to slightly heave, or lift the ground and this can just be seen in the above picture. It is very noticeable how much softer the ground conditions are when you walk on the aerated parts.

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Even our weakest green is showing progress as a result of the work we do. The 1st was predominantly Poa Annua 3 years ago but now it has a much higher proportion of Bent and the deeper rooting turf holds together much better. Deep solid-tining like this was impossible 3 years ago as the weak turf was torn and lifted by these types of machines.

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We followed behind on the greens with our lighter Aercore which has the small solid tines fitted. These helped close the larger holes at the surface and lessen disruption to golf before the whole surface was rolled to reinstate firmness. The larger holes stay open much deeper down for several months and provide open channels for good rooting.

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Changes to greens aeration

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We have recently purchased new tine holders for the aerator which hold 7 tines each rather than just 4.

This allows us to vastly increase the effect of the aeration per pass of the machine.

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The picture above shows the old and new hole patterns and the difference is immediately obvious. The tines used are exactly the same size and operating at the same depth.

The closer spacing gives a much more uniform pattern and it is almost so good that there is little need to roll after.

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The previous spacing caused an issue where, during summer months especially, the greens would appear spotty from the aeration holes. This should now be remedied as the effect of each aeration hole should link with the surrounding holes.

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Given that we are a small team it makes perfect sense that we take every chance to increase efficiency. Making more holes per pass of the machine is the logical choice. The benefits to the golfer will be subtle but this change can only help us increase turf health and quality moving forward.