I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year, seems like a long time ago already doesn’t it….
All in all we have wintered well this dormant season. We have good coverage on all our surfaces and have managed to remain relatively disease-free on our greens with the exception of little spots of Fusarium and Anthracnose which have been of no major concern. It is at this time of year when I feel we are seeing the benefits of our over-seeding programs over the past 18 months. The perennial browntop bents we have introduced to the greens make for better winter putting conditions than Poa annua which tends to thin out more quickly being an annual plant. This together with our aeration and other cultural practices has resulted in healthy true putting conditions for the time of year.
We have been pushing on with our winter maintenance program (see pictures below) and amongst other things, have fully reconstructed 15 bunkers which have been turfed with a blend of fescue/fine rye grass. Aeration has been carried out across all surfaces, refinement, gentle nutrition, rough management and top-dressing have all continued through the first part of winter schedule and will carry on right though till Spring with path work and where possible gorse management also. There is a common misconception that as the grass slows down so does the work rate on the golf course – I can assure you this is not the case!!
To break us in gently this month, I have prepared a few simple graphs from the data collected on- site throughout last year and will briefly explain how this can affect the way we present the golf courses….
As we can see from the above chart, growth potential peaked at the expected months of July and August, with September not far behind. As explained in previous newsletters this is preciously why we carry out major maintenance as early as possible in the year – higher air temperatures = stronger growth = faster recovery. Essentially the faster the recovery rate the quicker we have greens back to full potential after aggressive operations such as hollow coring. Due to the aggressive nature of the previous two years maintenance periods and the fact we have made such positive reductions in our organic matter, it is likely that we will be in a position this year to back off a little and use a smaller hollow core tine or indeed a solid tine. Both of which would mean less disruption to play.
After the driest winter I can remember in 23 years of greenkeeping the rain started to pick up around May and then proceeded to break the average for the north-east of Scotland for the next 3 months. This coincided with an increase in growth rate therefore as conditions became wet and mild our native rough areas really started to take off. After the drought of summer 2018 and the dry winter 2018-19 the roughs which for a long time had not been an issue, suddenly became problematic. As such we have met with several representatives of the individual clubs and agreed upon a more robust rough management plan which was started in October last year and carried on again this month (see figure 3). I must stress that with rough management there is no quick fix. The selective weedkillers which previously were freely available on the market have all but gone leaving us with only the one method – cut, collect, scarify/thin, collect and repeat. By collecting all the grass clippings we ensure that no extra nutrition is being fed back to the soil, therefore maintaining and encouraging the native fine grasses in the grass sward. These are the type of grasses which are synonymous with links golf and allow balls to be retrieved with ease as opposed to the thick pasture grasses which can be overly penal. This is a work in progress and I am confident we will see progress with each and every cut in these areas.
Winter work updates
That’s all for this month.
Regards for now,