After an excellent July, August has been a bit more mixed with plenty of sunshine but also rain. As a result the course is much greener than normal for this time of year, but it hasn’t detracted from its playing qualities, with accurate shot making and good ball striking needed to find fairways and greens in regulation.
One thing the rain has helped with is the new chipping area built this spring. Having been unable to work on the green as planned in the winter we completed work in the spring, opting for seed over turf. With good growth in August the turf has thickened up nicely and we could well open the area for use before too long.
Adam Newton from the STRI (Sports Turf Research Institute) carried out performance testing this month too, highlighting signs of good progress but also areas where further improvements can be prioritised.
Positives were with firmness, smoothness and trueness, all showing readings expected for tournament standards. The stand out negative being that the greens are still a little slower than desired. This however, is not a major concern and our plans to purchase a greens roller (or ‘turf iron’ as they are sometimes known) will allow us to inject extra pace without overly affecting the health of the turf. This is so important as simply looking to achieve speed through aggressive treatments and close mowing would compromise all of our work achieving firm, smooth, true and consistent greens all year round.
Despite our successes the job is never done and maintaining standards is ongoing. One task that we haven’t carried out sufficiently is top dressing the greens with sand, largely due to such a damp spring. So we had a little catching up to do last month and did so with some renovation work which involved heavy sanding and spiking. Sand was firstly applied by spreader at around a ton per green and then the greens were tined using the Toro Procore to push the sand into the turf canopy and create shallow holes. Then another half ton more sand was applied and brushed into the green filling up the holes. This isn’t ideal as the work is disruptive for a few days, but it is extremely important. Our intention is to apply top dressing little and often, but such is the environment that we work in, sometimes our plans are disrupted and we need to be able to adapt.
Elsewhere, work has been carried out on greens collars and approaches. This has involved further treatments of the coarser grasses (with Ryegrass the most problematic) helping to refine the grasses and offer improved playing qualities and aesthetics. This was followed by hollow coring, overseeding and topdressing which helps recovery but also increasing the turf with fescue grasses.
Other routine operations have continued with wetting agent and seaweed applied to greens and greens approaches. All bunkers have been kept mown as well as being weeded and topped up with sand where needed. Often this is just a question of moving sand from one area of the bunker to another after migration from play, wind and rain.
We have also continued to cut and collect areas of long rough and next month we will look to carry this out extensively to all areas.
For the month ahead the golfing schedule is busy and therefore we shall need to focus on maintaining standards daily. We are going into the time of year though where conditions can become perfect for turf disease. Although fungal disease has to be monitored all year, autumn is when it can be most devastating and with the days shortening and temperatures dropping we have already started to see heavy dew on the grass and also the dreaded sea frets looming. Each morning we make sure to clear dew from the turf, but when the sea frets come in it is impossible to do so with dew reforming in minutes. For that reason amongst others we will apply a preventative fungicide to help protect the turf during this period. The use of iron sulphate will also begin as this helps to deter the disease further as well as hardening the turf grass.