The application of wetting agent to our fairways has been a huge success this season.
Turf health and vigour has been maintained at a higher level, we haven’t lost any grass coverage on high spots and the colour uniformity has improved presentation.
Divots have healed more quickly and the fairways have recovered from stressful conditions easily.
In a trial area the difference made by the wetting agent is obvious:
Moving forward we’ll be continuing the winter applications to fairways, tees and, this season, to the semi-roughs.
By lowering the application rates we can increase the area covered to include the semi-rough and at the same time increase the number of applications from 2 to 3.
We will still achieve the same effect as we are applying the product over a longer period of time.
Overseeding work on greens has recently been completed for another season.
All greens and surrounds have had a minimum of a double pass with the slitseeder to input 20kg of pure Fescue seed. The weaker greens also received 3kg of Bent seed each at the same time.
The greens have been rolled immediately behind the seeder and cut the following morning.
We are aiming to apply a generous application of topdressing on Thursday to fill in any remaining gaps.
The putting green has already had this treatment as well as the dimple seeding and two weeks later the seed is well through and the surface has healed completely.
Some gentle feeding will now be applied to help the seedlings establish before applying products to harden the grass for winter.
We have recently finished grooming all the green surrounds.
They were verticut in two directions to remove as much coarse growth as possible then they were mown behind.
The verticut units were set to ground level so the crown of the plants were not damaged too much to avoid turf stress.
The hooked blades have hardened tips and they remove a lot of dead and dying growth while leaving the majority of the fresh growth intact.
As seen in the photos the clippings are quite different in each process despite only being a few minutes apart.
The mower has taken off mostly the fresh green growth as normal while the verticuts have more brown and yellow clippings in the box.
Now that we have sown the dwarf Ryegrass into the surrounds to allow us to better resist wear we have essentially removed the ability to use chemical control on the coarse grasses.
If we were to apply a graminicide now we would lose all the dwarf Rye as well as the coarser type.
We will have to increase mechanical controls from now on through the verticutting and brushing prior to mowing.
We are starting to see major improvements in root density on greens.
This is a combined result of increased aeration, seaweed applications, growth regulator use and proper fertiliser inputs.
A strong healthy root system helps maintain turf health. This is especially true through times of increased stress, our dry springs for example and periods of intense golf pressure.
We work through the season to increase rootmass and maintain turf health so we go into winter in as strong a position as possible. This allows us to get off to a strong start in the following spring.
The increased rooting is also down to the ever increasing percentage of fine grasses which are naturally much more deep rooting than the Meadowgrass.
The overseeding work we are currently undertaking can only improve our situation moving forward.
Work is currently underway to aerate and seed the greens while we have favourable conditions.
Using 10mm solid tines on both the Aercore and the Dyna-corer units we are creating small pots into which seed can be sown.
The seed is a mixture of Fescue and Bent and is applied through the fertiliser barrow at a rate of 14.5g Fescue and 3.6g Bent per square metre.
The seed is then pulled into the holes using the metal dragmat which is the most effective method by quite a margin.
Over the course of completing the work we will be creating around 25-30 million holes in the greens and filling each with seed.
The greens are then cut and rolled behind to reinstate the playing surface and once all the greens have been seeded we will be applying a heavy topdressing and brushing.
The 17th green was seeded around 2 weeks ago to test out our method for the work and the results have been excellent with a huge amount of seed germinating.
Last week saw 2 of our greenstaff, Connel and Chris, volunteering at the Ricoh British Ladies Open at Kingsbarns golf links.
In at 4am each morning we began handmowing greens at 4.30, well before sunrise.
Each time a green was mown the speed was measured by the STRI using the stimpmeter and then the R&A would decide if it should be mown again to increase the speed.
It was not uncommon for some greens to require double or even triple mowing but the result was some of the most consistent greens speeds course wide ever recorded in this country.
The surfaces over the entire course were prepared to the highest standard and it took a team of around 40 with an even higher number of machines to achieve it.
Over the course of 7 mornings we walked a total distance of around 80km/50miles.
Tournaments are always a great place to meet old friends and make new ones. It was a long and tiring week but hugely enjoyable and a great opportunity for us to share views and ideas with others in the industry.
We are fortunate to have a good working relationship with Kingsbarns and be able to borrow equipment occasionally so this was an ideal opportunity to give a little back.
Another spell of dry weather with relatively high winds has led to surfaces rapidly drying out. This has highlighted a couple of irrigation faults.
Using the Pogo over all the greens has given us the data required to target just the hotspots with hoses and therefore use our time and our water more efficiently.
The data for the 2nd green is shown above. These are two datasets taken on the same day. The first is in the morning and shows the driest parts of the green with their relative moisture contents. The second shows the green following manual watering to correct the deficit.
The above picture shows the datasets for the 18th green. This time the Pogo has highlighted an alarmingly low moisture level which in turn led us to discover that the front two sprinklers are not performing. The second picture again shows the improvement in moisture content following manual watering although still a little dry at the rear of the green.
With a bit of trial and error we will find out exactly how much water we need to apply to get the rootzone into the target range of around 18% moisture.
We will soon be mapping out all the greenside sprinkler heads with the gps function then applying their performance figures to give a visual representation of irrigation coverage at each green. Following on from this we can eradicate overlaps and/or missed areas by changing arcs and nozzle sizes to give the most uniform application possible.