The wetting agent programme on greens & surrounds is now underway.
Taking advantage of the rain to wash it in we are applying the wetting agent at a slightly higher rate than last season. We hope to hold on to some more moisture near the surface to help the promotion of Bent.
This season we will be using “growth degree days” to aid in the timing of material application, more specifically the growth regulator.
This process involves recording the maximum and minimum temperatures each day, calculating the mean temperature for that day then subtracting a base temperature (6°C). The figure left is a value which represents the plants growth potential.
Originally developed in the world of agriculture it has now filtered down into turfgrass use and could potentially save us time and money by ensuring we are not over-applying any products throughout the season. It can also benefit us in years to come as we start to accumulate data each season we will begin to see patterns in things, the start of Annual Meadowgrass seeding for example. This will allow us to alter our working practices to account for upcoming events.
The above graph shows the current state of play with regard to GDD for 2018 forecasted to the end of March. The blue and red show high and low daily temperatures respectively and the green indicates the turf growth potential. When presented in graph form it is immediately obvious that there has been little to no growth so far in 2018. Experts are suggesting we are now over 3 weeks behind the same time last year. To give an example, the south of England is currently at 43 GDD (we are at 16…) while this time last year they were already at 134! We will be applying the growth regulator on greens when we reach 175 GDD, so some time to go!
That being said we are in a stronger position going into spring than ever before and this is a direct result of a good growing season in 2017 and the winter policy allowing us to reduce wear and pressure on the greens.
The 4th green has been hollowcored to allow us to incorporate some more organic material.
Built out of the same indigenous sand as the other greens on the course the 4th is prone to drying out quickly. This is a result of there being far less organic material present, all that is there is what was imported with the bought in turf.
We cored the green with 16mm hollowtines to a depth of around 50mm. The cores were all removed, the green was blown then rolled.
We then topdressed the whole green with sand/soil mix and a composted seaweed meal. This was worked into the holes by brush as it dried.
Following the brushing, the green was rolled again before being spiked with a 10mm solid tine. This helped close the larger holes and the vibration helped the added material fall down the core holes.
As the material starts to work its way down the holes will reappear so we will be topping them up with more sand/soil mix and also working Bent seed into the green.
As another measure to improve moisture retention we will be treating the green with a different wetting agent this season.
During the snow cover we put the time to good use and built some bird and bat boxes.
These have now been put up around the course ahead of the spring.
We hope the bird boxes will see use almost immediately however it may be months or more before there is any activity at the bat boxes.
More log piles and eco piles have been created in out of the way areas for the smaller creatures around the course.
Scotscraig actually has a good range of biodiversity with new species starting to arrive each season. Last year the maintenance shed provided a home to 15 young birds from 4 different species.
There is even a visiting Egret in the ponds occasionally however it is very reluctant to appear on camera…
With the snow finally cleared we are back on full greens and the turf has weathered the conditions well.
Following the high winds there is currently a larger clean up operation underway with a lot of wind blown debris to move and fallen branches to clear.
As soon as we have a period with no chance of frost forecast we aim to apply a lawn sand to the greens and surrounds. This will strengthen the turf, improve colour and gently encourage some growth with the rising temperatures.
We have been productive in the shed during the snow and produced some bat boxes and birdhouses to start putting up around the course.
We now have brushes fitted to the front of the pedestrian mowers to stand the grass up prior to mowing.
The brushes help to control any lateral growth by lifting it immediately ahead of the cutting unit.
These bristles are quite aggressive so use will be limited to once or twice per week and ideally we will follow behind with a light sand dressing.
Our aim this season is to use the pedestrian mowers as much as possible. We have developed sectional routes around the course allowing us to complete work well in advance of the first tee time.
One of the routes is shown here along with some statistics.
We’ll aim to handmow 4 times through the week leaving one rest day where we will just roll.
We will still be mowing by triplex at weekends as there are too few members of staff to cover pedestrian mowing and the other tasks on those days.