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.

Practice tee renovation

The greenstaff have made an early start to the winter projects with the renovation of the summer practice tee.

The main items on the winter programme will begin after the end of summer rules. However, we have to make the practice area a priority to ensure it goes back into play as early as possible next season.

We began by stripping the turf from the whole area, the majority of which was heavily divotted and useless.

The artificial mats were removed as they are long past their best!

We then used the same box blade on the tractor as we use to maintain the access road to roughly level the area before rotovating.

After loosening the rootzone we chain harrowed the soil to help remove any stones and lumps of turf. We then rolled the soil with the tractor tyres to firm it up again before another pass with the box blade.

The whole area was then raked by hand to remove any debris and help level any remaining undulations.

We then seeded manually and raked the area again to ensure good soil contact.

Michael then watered the area to ensure our hard work didnt immediately blow away!

Late August/early September

The last few weeks have been a busy time for the greenstaff.

With the seeding work completed in late July the new seedlings are already well established. Regular light feeding has been taking place along with the continuation of the growth regulator programme.

It was fairly noticeable that an application of lawn sand had taken place by the blackening of the turf. This was put on to boost the new seedlings and established turf as well as strengthen the turf against disease outbreaks. Anthracnose is prevalent at the moment and requires regular feeding of the turf and plenty of aeration to keep it at bay.

Seen here the Anthracnose only affects our Annual Meadowgrass so it is not totally undesirable. As long as it stays under control we are happy to let it kill off the undesirable grass especially as our new seedlings are establishing.

The greens have been aerated twice in the last month with a solid 9.5mm tine to a depth of around 4″. This will continue on a monthly basis until early winter when the greens will be vertidrained more deeply with a larger tine. The work is largely disruption free and virtually unnoticeable after 3 days.

A granular application of Potassium has gone out on greens as well to further strengthen the turf and also to improve soil deficiencies.

The wetting agent programme is also continuing and another application is due soon.

This has been an excellent year if you happen to be a weed and we can see a lot of Plantain and Sorrel seedlings appearing course wide.

These are being controlled by chemical applications and the fairways on the front 9 have been spot treated along with areas of semi-rough. The remainder of the course will be treated on the next available calm day. So if you are reading this blog post weeds your days are numbered…

Fairways have all been brushed against the grain and then cut in the opposite direction.

This was undertaken to lift any dead and/or matted organic material and allow more light and air to penetrate the turf canopy. This goes a long way in spring to improving turf health and it should help weak areas regenerate after the difficult summer.

With overnight temperatures cooling rapidly and growth slowing we are turning our attention to cutting and collecting areas of long rough & Gorse. The recent purchase of a larger more modern machine to do the job means we can now look to maintain a far larger area of native rough.

As the coarse grasses die out as a result of the cutting and collecting we are seeing an increase in Bent and Fescue populations. These are much finer and present far more attractive and playable roughs.

Seeding success

A little over a week and already we have seedlings showing on the greens.

Almost every single hole in both directions is full of new plants.

We will be seeing just the Fescue at the moment but the Bents will appear in the next few days. They are very fine leaved however and almost impossible to see once the sun has come up.

The aim now is to keep disturbance to a minimum allowing the seedlings to establish. Moisture levels will be monitored and a light feed applied to encourage growth.

It will be interesting to see if sowing earlier means we can hold on to more of the Fescue.

Course maintenance days

The closure of the golf course for two days allowed the greenstaff to carry out intensive overseeding work on the greens. This was the main task planned however with all the course free we also vertidrained all the tees and surrounds as well as double verticut all surrounds and cut all tees and surrounds.

The volunteers or “Random Task Force” were out in force divotting with intent, painting bins, touching up course furniture and pulling out Ragwort around the course so a huge thanks to them for taking some of the less glamorous jobs away from us.

For the seeding we first created small ‘pots’ to seed into with a few different pieces of equipment. It is essential that we get the seed into the ground so it has soil contact otherwise there will be no germination.

The seed was mixed by ourselves and is a blend of 5 different Browntop Bents and 4 different Fescues. Following the mixing we broadcast the seed manually using the fertiliser barrow directly on top of the holes.

Each green received around 8Kg of Bent seed and 6Kg of Fescue. Up to this year we have been sowing primarily Fescue however it has proven hard to establish with our level of winter play and the late seeding times. We included some again this season more as a trial to see if sowing earlier in the year will allow better establishment and increase our chances of maintaining some Fescue content in the greens.

Bent has proven itself to be the number one dominant species in our greens. Any disease scars or wear areas have quickly filled with Bent with little to no help from us so it is the logical choice for our surfaces.

The seed mix was then dragged with the metal mat to pull anything on the surface into the holes.

After the greens were rolled to firm the surface we applied a light dressing of sand to cover the seed but not fill the holes totally.

This is to ensure that the germinating seedlings develop slightly below the existing turf and essentially give themselves a higher height of cut. This will maximise their chances of establishing by reducing stress from regular mowing.

We should start to see germination by the middle of August with Fescue first and Bent a few days later.

We have been fortunate that the GDD has fallen in such a way that the growth regulator was due a few days after seeding. This has been applied and means that the existing turf will have its growth held back just as the seed is germinating therefore reducing competition.