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.

Repair work on scorch marks

We have completed the overseeding work on the scorch marks on front 9 greens.

We first used a custom made tool to make 1/2″ diameter holes around 1/2″ deep.

The areas then had Fescue and Bent seed broadcast over the top and worked into the holes.

The areas were then dressed with a mixture of sand and soil and allowed to dry before it was worked into the holes on top of the seed. This will help keep in moisture while the seed germinates.

The soil temperature is now into double figures so we should expect to see the new seedlings start to emerge after around 10-12 days.

After germination we will repeat the process to fill in any gaps as quickly as possible.

Demonstration equipment

We currently have an Imants Shockwave on demonstration at the course.

This machine is a linear aerator and works by cutting channels in the ground by means of a system of rotating knives.

Used on compacted and/or wet areas it relieves the compaction and creates channels for surface water to move away more quickly.

The machine is working to a depth of around 250mm and leaves a channel cut with a 12mm blade. The channels are immediately rolled behind to close them over.

We will be making our way round the course over the next few days targeting problem areas like walkways and winter wear spots to encourage recovery.

The machine is perfectly capable of being used on greens so we will be tackling the 11th green to create links between the drain lines and improve drainage there. It will also be used on the spot in the midfle of 17 green which is prone to flooding.