Tournament support

One of our greenstaff has just returned from a week of tournament support at the Phoenix Open in Arizona. 

Volunteering at large competitions presents several benefits. These include meeting many new people and contacts, seeing different ideas and methods of doing things and last of all it helps in building a good CV for the future. 

It will be interesting to hear about the differences given the slight difference in climate between Fife and Arizona!

While Michael was away he took the opportunity to visit other places including other golf courses, stadiums and sportsgrounds. 

It is rare to leave trips like this without improved knowledge and creation of new friendships. 

New bunkers

The new bunkers on the course are nearing completion. 

1 new bunker has been put in on the left of the 11th fairway and 4 new bunkers are in at the 16th. This includes 2 drive bunkers and 2 approach bunkers one of which is pictured here. 

The bunkers are built and the turf has been relayed around the tops. 

We are in the process of filling them with sand to get them in play as soon as possible. 

It should be noted that while the bunker is in play the surrounding turfed area will be whitelined and set as Ground Under Repair. 

Deep tine aeration

The deeper, solid tine aeration reserved for the winter months was completed without any issues. 

As seen in the picture above the amount of compaction relief is considerable. The machine essentially drives forks into the rootzone which then pivot slightly to lift the rootzone uniformly. This action is called ‘heave’ and can be adjusted on the machine to give a greater or lesser effect. 

While we want to relieve as much compaction as possible it is easy to overdo the heave effect and cause more harm than good. 

There are several benefits to this process which include improved water percolation, improved gas exchange, creation of soil fractures for root development and, coupled with rolling, removal of bumps and depressions in the surfaces. 

Disruption was minimal given that the machine was working to a depth of 11″. The greens were double rolled straight behind to reinstate the surfaces. 

It can be a very slow task and as a result there were a few early starts, not ideal in winter…

Clearance of scrub and long rough

Work is underway in several areas of the course to clear long rough and scrub. 

The clearance is concentrating on lost ball hotspots and carries from tee to fairway for the timebeing. 

We cut everything down with a heavy duty flail mower before returning with a smaller flail collector to lift and remove the debris. The flail will cut everything down from grass to small gorse and broom plants. 

The collector compacts the material as it picks it up allowing us to load it into trailers for removal much more easily. 

By continually repeating this process each season we will promote less dense, wispy roughs and reduce the chance of lost balls/slow play. 

We can also use graminicides to spray out the coarse grasses as the rough regenerates and further improve playing conditions. 

11th green drainage

Work to renovate the drain lines on the 11th green has recently been completed. 

We started by cutting the turf above the drains and laying it to the side to replace later. 

The sand used as backfill previously was dug out by hand and taken away. 

The sand is actually crushed sandstone and is made up of mostly square shaped particles. These sit close together and provide very little pore space for water to percolate through. 

We removed the pipe and rinsed it out ready to put back in. While the pipe was out we took the opportunity to check the levels of the drain and found the central section was flat with virtually no fall and the back third was actually running the wrong way. This was rectified and the pipe replaced. 

We replaced the pipe and filled the trench with 10mm gravel leaving 6″ for rootzone at the top. The gravel was firmed up before the rootzone was added and heeled in as firmly as possible. The centre on the drain line has been left fractionally proud intentionally to allow for the inevitable settling of material. 

The rootzone is a mix of 80% sand and 20% soil which will allow water to drain through to the gravel but at the same time hold on to enough moisture in summer to avoid the drain lines burning out. 

We then replaced the turf and tied it all in before brushing and blowing the green to clear any spillages of gravel and rootzone. 

The drain lines were then carefully rolled to smooth out any bumps. 

It is important to remember that the material used in the drain lines is completely different to the rest of the green. As a result the drain lines will always be visible to a degree. 

What we have now however is a functioning drainage system which can be added to over time creating a lattice of extra channels which will quickly and efficiently remove surface water. 

Nutrition on greens

Following our soil analysis in spring this season we have been able to tailor our nutrient needs more precisely. 

These two charts are for one green (2nd hole) and we had 4 tested in total to give a better picture over the entire site. Armed with these figures we were able to decide on a feeding programme using both granular and foliar feeds. 

Nutrients move through the plant in different ways which further complicates product selection. 

For example, we are low in Calcium which is an essential part of cell wall structure. Calcium moves quickly upwards in the plant but very slowly downwards so there is little gain from a foliar application. Calcium needs to applied in a way that makes it present in the soil so we look for granular fertilisers containing Calcium. 

The aim is to create and maintain a healthy, nutrient rich yet balanced rootzone. Over time this will help us reduce maintenance costs and provide strong, healthy turf with a vigourous root system. 

Turf health on greens

The greens are heading into winter in very good health. 

There is a good level of colour at the moment without it being artificially green in appearance. It should also be noted that the greens have received virtually no Nitrogen since late July. The use of Iron has also been limited with only a light foliar application in September, the first since January. 

Our soil analysis in spring has enabled us to select and apply only the fertilisers which the turf required. We have been feeding with just enough to keep the turf healthy yet not actually force anything to grow. 

The greens have been heavily overseeded this season and it has proven to be very successful. It is now getting a little on the cold side for decent germination so seeding is suspended until next season. 

The dry spring actually worked in our favour in some respects. It made life very difficult for the shallow rooted Annual Meadowgrass and in several areas it weakened it so much that the finer grasses were able to get a foothold and start to out compete it. 

We have just taken delivery of a few products to maintain the current level of turf health throughout winter and we hope to get off to a good start in spring for what will be a huge year at the Club.