Despite a cold end to the month, the weather in March has been much better than in recent years, with above average temperatures helping to see some growth and recovery to the playing surfaces after a lot of play through the winter.
Leatherjacket Problem continues
A major concern though is again coming from Leatherjacket activity on the the greens, beginning to cause visible damage. With the course in such good condition and feedback being the most positive it ever has been, it’s frustrating to have limited control on the issue.
This is an industry wide issue, although it does seem to be more site specific with some courses suffering from worse damage than ourselves, but equally others seeing no damage at all. We are only seeing damage on the greens and we feel this is mainly due to the greens being made up of sand. It’s certainly not the only reason and there is likely to multiple factors at play, but because the sandy soil is much drier than the heavier soil found on our fairways, it maintains a higher temperature. This results in the grubs being more active for longer periods throughout the winter on the greens, as where the soil on the fairways holds more water it is therefore much colder, so the grubs tend to go deeper and become more dormant.
Strong winds for most of the year has prevented the one thing we can do, which is sheeting the greens over night, which brings the grubs to the surface so they can be collected the following day.
The worst affected greens are the 9 holes under the bridge which are even more free draining than the Morgan’s greens, but pretty much every green is suffering to some extent. The picture above is of Boulby View green, which has the most noticeable damage.
Although we managed to sheet a couple of times earlier in the month with some success, it wasn’t until the end of the month that the technique began to have the desired effect. The picture below shows thousands of grubs collected from one of our smaller greens.
It’s very time consuming and this is preventing us from carrying out other tasks, but I’m sure you’ll all agree that the performance of the greens is of priority. Our aim is to sheet all of the greens before the end of April and so far we have managed to clear 5 greens in March.
All newly refurbished bunkers have been brought into play now and all others have had fresh sand added.
When fresh sand is added it can often take a little time to weather and compact, so at first it may move around under your feet and feel quite soft, particularly in the new bunkers where all of the sand is new. This is only a minor issue, but one that is worth understanding when you first encounter one of the newly refurbished bunkers.
Newly laid turf has settled well and has all been returned to play except 1 or 2 isolated areas. If you find any faint white lines, please disregard them and play the ball as it lies, any area that is still GUR will have signage to indicate this.
Top dressing has been and will continue to be applied to ensure the new surfaces are smooth and consistent.
All new cups, flags and pins have been put out and summer tees returned to play, with freshly painted tee markers back out.
Distance markers have been edged as have sprinkler heads and all 150 marker posts have been replenished.
Spot spraying has begun on all surfaces and will be the technique used going forward. Despite large areas of turf to cover, using a knapsack sprayer significantly reduces the quantity of chemicals and water required to control any weeds in the turf.
At one time this was a huge issue, particularly with Clover, but with several years of persistence we now have things more in our control and can take this more sustainable and proactive approach.
From the beginning of April we will return the green on Rawcliffe into play.
It has come on much quicker than anticipated, however we haven’t got it down to the same height as the other greens and it’s still a little uneven.
Top dressing and rolling has been carried out frequently and combined with decent temperatures for March, the green is doing well.
We currently have the height of cut at 7mm and we should be able to get down to the same 5mm as the other greens fairly soon. It’s certainly looking spectacular and I’m sure you’ll all enjoy the new challenge that awaits!
Overall we are pleased with the way the course is coming on and the team have enjoyed hearing all the positive comments coming from everyone recently.
We hope to be able to cope with the current challenges and with those that are likely to be not far ahead of us too.
In April there are no plans to work on anything out of the ordinary, but we are aiming to push playing conditions to new levels and feel confident in doing so.
The irrigation system needs some small repairs and setting up for automated use.
There are areas out of play that we hope to deal with as well, such as the site of the old greens where we have been storing materials for project work.
Finally we had a set back with the delivery of the new tractor, which is now due at the end of April. Unfortunately this is a global supply issue which I’m sure many of you will be aware. However, as long as it arrives before our fringing rough is due it’s first cut, towards the end of May, then it shouldn’t pose any issues.
Please take a look at Gavin’s sustainability blog by the link below for the latest initiatives being undertaken.
Any feedback is welcome so please get in touch and I thank you all for your continued support.