July is our busiest month of the year at Hunley with Captains Day and Club Championships sandwiched in amongst all the usual competitions, matches and social events. It is also my favourite month of the year as preparing the course for these events is very satisfying as well as seeing the course in its prime.
In between all the various events we have been spending time on the greens, refining the surfaces in conjunction with keeping the grass plant healthy.
Micro tining is carried out monthly through the season, using 8 mm diameter tines to an approximate depth of 100 mm. This increases the amount of air in the soil, helping the plants roots to develop and improving the health of the soil by allowing beneficial microorganisms to develop.
Following on from the aeration, an application of organic fertiliser was applied for a variety of reasons. First and foremost the feed was required to maintain even grass coverage. Over the last few years we have been successfully transitioning the greens from being dominated by annual meadow grass to now being dominated by the desired bent and fescue species. However, a small number of the greens still have quite a bit of meadow grass in the sward, which had begun to weaken and thin out, which would eventually have created an uneven surface (picture below left shows this on Cottage Corner green). To lose the meadow grass would obviously be a good thing long term, but we have to be patient in order to maintain good surfaces in the short term.
An organic fertiliser is selected as it also helps to improve the soil in addition to feeding the turf. Much like the aeration work, the contents of the fertiliser feed the microorganisms helping them to multiply and further enhance the growing environment, which is a very important part of growing fine perennial grasses.
Another task carried out was verti cuttting the greens, which is a bit like scarifying only less severe. We rarely carry out this technique as the fine grasses could suffer if overdone, but it does help to lift lateral growth and refine the leaves of the grasses allowing the ball to roll more consistently.
Elsewhere on the course we have been mowing fairways, approaches to the green, semi rough and intermediate rough regularly to keep the course playing well.
Areas of long rough continue to be cut back using the flail collector and we try to prioritise the areas that are most affecting ball retrieval. Every time we cut an area it is then allowed to grow back until it again becomes a problem. Over time each area will become thinner and thinner and have much less impact on locating a ball after a wayward shot.
The below video shows some of the tasks being carried out and I hope it helps to demonstrate the work we do.
August will see the STRI (Sports Turf Research Institute) visit us to carry out performance testing on the greens. This comes at the ideal time to help measure the success of our work and we will make available the report once it has been completed.
Another thing of note is that we will be carrying out some intensive work on 2 greens on the holes Clark’s Brook and Doves. We will be hollow tining with large tines and heavily sanding them. The reason for this is that as these greens see a limited amount of play during the season, coming into play on only 1 of the 4 main courses, they suffer quite severely from moss invasion in the winter. By removing a larger amount of organic matter from the turf base, we hope to reduce the more springy nature of these greens, which will help to reduce the moss during the winter months.