Practice tee renovation

The greenstaff have made an early start to the winter projects with the renovation of the summer practice tee.

The main items on the winter programme will begin after the end of summer rules. However, we have to make the practice area a priority to ensure it goes back into play as early as possible next season.

We began by stripping the turf from the whole area, the majority of which was heavily divotted and useless.

The artificial mats were removed as they are long past their best!

We then used the same box blade on the tractor as we use to maintain the access road to roughly level the area before rotovating.

After loosening the rootzone we chain harrowed the soil to help remove any stones and lumps of turf. We then rolled the soil with the tractor tyres to firm it up again before another pass with the box blade.

The whole area was then raked by hand to remove any debris and help level any remaining undulations.

We then seeded manually and raked the area again to ensure good soil contact.

Michael then watered the area to ensure our hard work didnt immediately blow away!

Late August/early September

The last few weeks have been a busy time for the greenstaff.

With the seeding work completed in late July the new seedlings are already well established. Regular light feeding has been taking place along with the continuation of the growth regulator programme.

It was fairly noticeable that an application of lawn sand had taken place by the blackening of the turf. This was put on to boost the new seedlings and established turf as well as strengthen the turf against disease outbreaks. Anthracnose is prevalent at the moment and requires regular feeding of the turf and plenty of aeration to keep it at bay.

Seen here the Anthracnose only affects our Annual Meadowgrass so it is not totally undesirable. As long as it stays under control we are happy to let it kill off the undesirable grass especially as our new seedlings are establishing.

The greens have been aerated twice in the last month with a solid 9.5mm tine to a depth of around 4″. This will continue on a monthly basis until early winter when the greens will be vertidrained more deeply with a larger tine. The work is largely disruption free and virtually unnoticeable after 3 days.

A granular application of Potassium has gone out on greens as well to further strengthen the turf and also to improve soil deficiencies.

The wetting agent programme is also continuing and another application is due soon.

This has been an excellent year if you happen to be a weed and we can see a lot of Plantain and Sorrel seedlings appearing course wide.

These are being controlled by chemical applications and the fairways on the front 9 have been spot treated along with areas of semi-rough. The remainder of the course will be treated on the next available calm day. So if you are reading this blog post weeds your days are numbered…

Fairways have all been brushed against the grain and then cut in the opposite direction.

This was undertaken to lift any dead and/or matted organic material and allow more light and air to penetrate the turf canopy. This goes a long way in spring to improving turf health and it should help weak areas regenerate after the difficult summer.

With overnight temperatures cooling rapidly and growth slowing we are turning our attention to cutting and collecting areas of long rough & Gorse. The recent purchase of a larger more modern machine to do the job means we can now look to maintain a far larger area of native rough.

As the coarse grasses die out as a result of the cutting and collecting we are seeing an increase in Bent and Fescue populations. These are much finer and present far more attractive and playable roughs.

Seeding success

A little over a week and already we have seedlings showing on the greens.

Almost every single hole in both directions is full of new plants.

We will be seeing just the Fescue at the moment but the Bents will appear in the next few days. They are very fine leaved however and almost impossible to see once the sun has come up.

The aim now is to keep disturbance to a minimum allowing the seedlings to establish. Moisture levels will be monitored and a light feed applied to encourage growth.

It will be interesting to see if sowing earlier means we can hold on to more of the Fescue.

Course maintenance days

The closure of the golf course for two days allowed the greenstaff to carry out intensive overseeding work on the greens. This was the main task planned however with all the course free we also vertidrained all the tees and surrounds as well as double verticut all surrounds and cut all tees and surrounds.

The volunteers or “Random Task Force” were out in force divotting with intent, painting bins, touching up course furniture and pulling out Ragwort around the course so a huge thanks to them for taking some of the less glamorous jobs away from us.

For the seeding we first created small ‘pots’ to seed into with a few different pieces of equipment. It is essential that we get the seed into the ground so it has soil contact otherwise there will be no germination.

The seed was mixed by ourselves and is a blend of 5 different Browntop Bents and 4 different Fescues. Following the mixing we broadcast the seed manually using the fertiliser barrow directly on top of the holes.

Each green received around 8Kg of Bent seed and 6Kg of Fescue. Up to this year we have been sowing primarily Fescue however it has proven hard to establish with our level of winter play and the late seeding times. We included some again this season more as a trial to see if sowing earlier in the year will allow better establishment and increase our chances of maintaining some Fescue content in the greens.

Bent has proven itself to be the number one dominant species in our greens. Any disease scars or wear areas have quickly filled with Bent with little to no help from us so it is the logical choice for our surfaces.

The seed mix was then dragged with the metal mat to pull anything on the surface into the holes.

After the greens were rolled to firm the surface we applied a light dressing of sand to cover the seed but not fill the holes totally.

This is to ensure that the germinating seedlings develop slightly below the existing turf and essentially give themselves a higher height of cut. This will maximise their chances of establishing by reducing stress from regular mowing.

We should start to see germination by the middle of August with Fescue first and Bent a few days later.

We have been fortunate that the GDD has fallen in such a way that the growth regulator was due a few days after seeding. This has been applied and means that the existing turf will have its growth held back just as the seed is germinating therefore reducing competition.

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.