Monday saw the greenstaff having a playing visit at Trump International Golf Links north of Aberdeen.
The spectacular Dr Martin Hawtree design laid out among the natural sand dunes is breathtaking and a serious golfing challenge.
The playing surfaces are fantastic with fine grasses in abundance. With firm fairways leading to smooth and undulating greens the course was a great experience.
The visit was also an opportunity for our greenstaff to see what is achievable in our industry and it has given them something to aim for.
We must of course remember that there are a few significant differences, the main ones being the course budget of a top tier golfing facility, the staff numbers and the volume of golf traffic.
For example, in the summer months Stevie the Course Superintendent has at his disposal around 3 times the number of staff we have. Couple that with the course experiencing roughly one third of the golf that we have at Scotscraig it's easy to see what sets us apart!
Work is underway to thin out the more productive areas of native rough.
We are fortunate that most areas already have an abundance of good grass species’ present. Through regular maintenance of this sort we can ensure their presence and eventually have wispy roughs which are both playable and attractive.
We are cutting and collecting all of the top vegetation before removing it to the compost heap. This will take nutrient away before it can make its way back into the soil and stimulate further growth.
Some of these areas are also being set aside for wildflower cultivation in order to attract more species’ to the course. The cutting and collecting of rough is part of the first stage in preparing the ground for the wildflowers.
Greens are being slit today after a busy few weeks of golf.
A higher than average volume of traffic coupled with extra handmowing and rolling has meant the surfaces could have sealed off.
The slitter is by far our quickest and most efficient way of relieving compaction and introducing air back into the rootzone.
We are double rolling after the slitter to reinstate the playing surface and disruption is virtually nil.
The roller itself has the added bonus of a smaller scale slitter and this is being used to further introduce surface perforations although to a lesser degree, 1/2″ as opposed to the 5″ depth gained by the larger machine.
Installation of the 150yd markers on fairways is being completed today.
We have repurposed the old stones which used to house the yardage plates on tees, another cost saving for the club.
The markers are positioned 150yds from the CENTRES of the greens.
The greens and surrounds were slit tined this morning to allow air into the rootzone.
The slitter does little to relieve compaction compared to the Aercore and solid tines but it is significantly faster and leaves less disruption. This is the main reason for using it today, with such a busy period at the club and a hint of disease lurking we needed to allow air into the profile but maintain surface smoothness.
The greens were cut and rolled immediately behind the slitter and as seen in the photo above the work is virtually invisible.
The slitter is the perfect tool for introducing air, it couldnt be simpler:
We followed up the work with an application of seaweed, Magnesium and Iron to further deter the disease and improve turf colour.
We have now received and set up our moisture meter.
This device enables us to accurately measure and record soil moisture, canopy temperature and salinity across all the greens and therefore apply irrigation and fertiliser accordingly.
The device is also equipped with GPS so we can accurately map out all areas of the course even the sprinkler heads or pin positions. Areas of greens, tees, fairways etc can now be measured with a higher degree of accuracy which will reduce material costs moving forward.
The accompanying software gives us displays showing each green and where the hot spots are for highs and lows of each factor. These can be sent to staff so they know exactly where to hand water.
The whole thing is controlled through an application on our phones so we can have the data straight away without having to access a computer.
This tool will dramatically improve efficiency when it comes to hand watering as we can now be far more precise and just concentrate on the areas that actually require irrigation.
We can set the required parameters ourselves to suit our course and over time the software builds up a record of the recorded data which can then be displayed in graph form. This will help in the future to predict disease outbreaks for example. We will know what the conditions were like for previous outbreaks and if things look to be going the same way we can take preventative measures.
For the first time ever our fairways have been treated with wetting agent.
The product used has been engineered to reduce surface tension so when rain comes it soaks into the soil immediately rather than running off into low areas.
Once in the soil the moisture is then held uniformly throughout meaning the fairways are more evenly healthy.
The following pictures show where the effect is most pronounced: