Head Greenkeeper Report – April 2020

Head Greenkeeper Report – April 2020

During these extraordinarily difficult times for us all I am sure golf is not the no.1 priority. However, I wanted to provide a very brief update re-assuring all our STH that we will come through this tough period and that we as Greenkeepers are doing everything in our power to ensure the courses are in top condition for your return.

As things stand we are working with a skeleton squad of two Greenkeepers on site at any one time and as per the R&A guidelines our tasks are restricted to essential maintenance only. This basically means we will keep on top of growth across both courses with the main objective not being playability, but keeping the grass plant as healthy and manageable as possible. This includes basic measures such as raising the height of cut, keeping nutrition to a minimum and ensuring we have the correct balance of moisture in the rootzone.

We are fortunate in that we are slow growing Links Courses, which does not require the intensive management practices of an inland course. However, we must monitor and manage our surfaces on a daily basis to ensure that we remain disease and pest free amongst other things. For example, most turfgrass diseases require the availability of free-water in which to spread, the morning dew therefore provides the perfect breeding ground for a pathogen to cause considerable damage. By removing the dew from greens on a daily basis we are minimising the risk of disease outbreaks keeping the grass sward as healthy as possible.

We have several products in our armoury such as wetting agents, which will assist us in moisture management and plant growth regulators, which will help us to slow the rate at which the grass plant grows. Both of these products will reduce the amount of labour and maintenance required over the coming weeks.

Over the past 18 months, as regular readers of my monthly newsletter will know only too well, we have put a serious amount of work into our greens. These are just a few tweaks which I feel have improved our putting surfaces:

1. Regular monthly tining has increased pore space in the rootzone allowing compaction to be relieved and oxygen to flow.

2. Monthly top-dressing (over 200 tonnes in 18 months) has diluted organic matter leading to firmer, drier greens which are putting as good as I’ve seen them.

3. A completely new cultivar of grass being over-seeded into the greens has vastly increased the populations of perennial plants on the putting surface, which out-perform the disease-prone poa annua.

4. Our nutrition plan has been completely altered leading to a more robust and steady rate of growth.

It is my firm view that we could not be in a much better position going into this shutdown and I am confident once the doors re-open the 5th oldest in the world will be in top condition for all our STH to enjoy once again.

Regards for now and please everyone stay safe indoors.

Darren McLaughlan
Head Greenkeeper
Montrose Golf Links

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