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.

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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.

Height of cut and green speeds

Our handmowers are set to cut at 4.75mm. This is what we call a “bench setting” and it does not correspond to the actual height of cut.

This has to be measured with a prism gauge after mowing:

We can see in the following photo that the actual height of cut is much lower:

As it stands at the moment we cannot lower the height of cut for any length of time as it would stress out the finer grasses we are trying to promote.

Many people believe that lower mowing heights means faster greens but it is rarely as simple as that.

Through trying different approaches we have found that, for our greens, the best way to increase pace is to verticut and remove excess vegetation prior to topdressing. This also improves trueness and smoothness which is more important than pace. Aggressive verticutting however can also be detrimental especially in times of stress.

Greens aeration

We have just completed aeration on greens, 13 greens yesterday and the remaining 5 today

Using an 8mm solid tine we have aerated to a depth of 3.5″ leaving little to no disruption.

This work will now take place on a regular basis to allow air and moisture penetrate the rootzone. This will encourage stronger rooting and better, healthier turf less reliant on inputs from us.

More verticutting!

All of the sand from the last topdressing has fully ameliorated into the canopy and we have been able to verticut again.

Over the past 2 mornings the greens have been double verticut twice with the blades set at -1mm.

We have removed a large amount of weak and dead material from the sward which has increased pace and helped smooth out the differential growth. The picture above shows what was removed from just three greens, a stark contrast to the following picture showing the amount removed from all 18 greens by normal mowers:

There is little to no lateral growth left on the greens and any matting of the sward has been removed leaving the canopy open to receive more sand topdressing.

The clippings on the left are from the verticut units and are obviously more yellow than the clippings on the right taken from the box of the handmower. Regular treatment of this sort will help us maintain green speeds and go a long way to slowing thatch build up.

The greens have been mown by pedestrian machine after each verticut to ensure the best possible finish.

Verticutting greens

The greens have had two verticuts in 2 days (thu/fri) to help smooth out the surfaces and increase pace.

Last weeks increased warmth meant a rapid increase in growth however not all the grasses respond equally. This has meant that the Bents are growing strongly while the Poa and Fescue remains largely dormant.

The verticut blades (seen above) are arranged 10mm apart and are equipped with hardened square tips to cut and remove any lateral growth and dead material. We have set them at 0mm, or ground level, and this will leave the vulnerable crown of the plant untouched.

The blades help to thin out the Bent and reduce bumps while at the same time encouraging new growth which will further help it to out-compete the Poa.

The operation was carried out in two directions perpendicular to each other to maximise the effect. The greens were then mown with the turf conditioners engaged to further stand up foliage prior to mowing.

The greens mowers are set to cut at 5mm and the turf conditioners are set at 2.5mm.

The work will be followed up by a seaweed application to help relieve stress before another dressing of sand is applied early next week.

11th path

We have recently completed a tidy up on the path at the 11th.

The grass has encroached across the path surface so it has been trimmed back to the wood edging which has largely rotted away.

The path will have a topdressing of fresh material in the next week or two to fill in any holes and smarten the appearance further.