The winter project work is well underway and the digger will be leaving us soon.
We have cleared the ditch down the left side of 14 fairway and removed some of the weed in the pond at the bottom to allow a better flow of water.
The largest project for the year was at the rear of the 7th green leading up onto the 8th tee.
The remainder of the old tee has been stripped of turf and lowered to the height of the current 8th tee. This level was continued across to and around the 7th greenside bunker.
In doing so we have created a larger area with shallower contouring which enable us to spread wear in this area better.
At the same time we’ve taken the opportunity to strip the hollow behind 7 green and remove the heavily Ryegrass polluted turf.
Material from behind the bunker was pulled round and used to soften the contouring which will allow us better access with our machinery as well as create room for more surround cut.
The 8th tee has had a bay extension added to give more space for yellow tee positions and the whole area has been shaped and is ready for turf.
At the same time as lowering behind the bunker we lowered the mound between 5 and 8 tees to allow better visibility between the 5th tee and the 7th green.
All of the removed material has been divided up between other projects, some used in the new championship tee constructions on 17 and 18, some used to replenish the rootzone on the turf nursery and the remainder has been put in the bay to be used as divot mix next season.
We are nearing completion of the first pass with the vertidrain on greens.
We are aerating with a 1/2″ solid tine to a depth of 10″.
This process goes a long way to relieving the compaction caused by a season of rolling, mowing, topdressing etc.
We will be carrying out the work again once the current holes have closed up and hopefully there will be some hard frost at the same time to further break up the soil profile.
We are now seeing large amounts of seed germination on the greens and surrounds.
All of the white shoots visible in the photo above are newly germinated grass plants, even the tiny Bent seed is visible.
We will spoon feed the new plants all the nutrients they require as well as raising the height of cut to minimise stress on them. We have germination well before any frost so the new Bent and Fescue should establish well.
The slit seeding has enabled us to introduce large volumes of seed in a relatively short space of time. However, it is very invasive and recovery takes much longer at this time of year.
For that reason we will aim to input the same quantity of seed throughout the season jsing the pot seeding method from earlier this year.
Over the space of a week all the greens were seeded with little to no disruption to golf.
The 17th green has been trialled with the pot seeding method and a Bent/Fescue seed mix. We have gone from a green which was around 80-90% Meadowgrass 3 years ago to somewhere in the region of 45% Meadowgrass, 45% Bent and 10% Fescue.
The Bent seems to thrive on our site even at our relatively low Nitrogen input regime. Moving forward we will aim to introduce as many of the top Bent cultivars as possible.
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.