We’ve all heard of April Showers, but that certainly hasn’t been the case this April.
At times it can be very challenging on the East Coast, especially when the wind comes off the North Sea. This has been the case for pretty much the whole of April, with temperatures below half of what they have been just a few miles inland.
Add to that almost no rain whatsoever, with only 8 millimetres in total falling in the month of April. Although many areas received good rainfall at the end of the month, this wasn’t the case on the coast at Hunley.
This hasn’t been too bad for the golfers though, as there has been plenty of opportunity to get out and play, with playing conditions still very good for golf.
So what’s the problem I hear you ask? Well, in a nutshell there is a real lack of growth. I’ll use the rest of this blog to explain the issues caused but also how our management over the years has really lessened the impact of challenging periods such as this.
Most of the projects carried out in the winter need growth to fully establish and match in seamlessly with surrounding turf. On the whole this is only a minor issue, but some turf is shrinking and it has been difficult to keep enough moisture in the soil for it to establish root systems and cope without applied irrigation.
Daisies & Clover
In spring weeds in the turf begin to show up and we would normally look to treat the closely mown turf with selective herbicide. We haven’t yet begun doing so as it’s been too dry and cold. These conditions prevent the weeds from absorbing the herbicide and working effectively. We will be able to begin treatment as soon as there is enough warmth and moisture for the plants to be actively growing.
Turf density & Recovery
As the turf isn’t really growing yet either, in places it is quite thin and not quite as we would want at this time of year. Divot damage recovery is pretty much none existent too and even with repairs being carried out, there has been no moisture for the seed to germinate and grow. There is little we can do about this until rain falls, as we only have irrigation on our greens.
Benefits of Improved Management
In recent years changes to the management of the course has limited the reliance on good weather for growth in spring. Despite the lack of growth so far our greens are in good condition and still performing well, which is largely due to the dominance of fine perennial grasses.
This year has provided the perfect example. We had a very mild winter and disease was affecting the greens for a prolonged period. However the fine perennial grasses were only slightly damaged and not completely killed off like before. As a result this has not adversely effected the performance of the greens.
6 years ago when the greens were predominantly annual meadow grass, disease in the winter decimated the greens, with large dead areas visible that severely affected play.
As it was a cold dry spring then, there was no growth to get the recovery needed until things finally warmed up in June. So despite having very similar conditions this year, the greens haven’t suffered in the same way and we can enjoy them performing well, without having to rely upon good growing conditions for recovery.
Business As Usual Elsewhere
There has been plenty that we have been able to do, with mowing still being carried out to maintain presentation. Greens have been micro tined, top dressed as well as receiving the monthly wetting agent application.
We’ve yet to apply any fertiliser to the greens though and going forwards will be using less and less applied nutrients as we continue to favor the fine perennial grasses, in particular the fescue.
In summary everything is just about as good as it can be. With a bit of rain to help with the few issues raised in this blog, the course should start to achieve it’s real potential.
In the meantime we hope you keep enjoying the course and any questions can always be emailed to me on [email protected]