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 think… ;o)