Another month passes by and an eventful month it’s been too.
We’ve seen virtually every type of weather you can imagine for August, with high winds, thunder storms, mist and fog, it’s been warm and humid as well as periods of sunshine too but most noteably it’s been the wettest month of the summer to date. All of this has contributed to differing challenges and led to the course being quite green for the time of year.
As there’s plenty of news in this month’s update, I’ve broken it down into sections pretty much as usual.
One major positive was having the team from Green Irrigation on site carrying out repairs to the many valves and sprinklers that were damaged by vandals back in spring.
It was rather ironic to finally be able to water automatically for the first time since March, yet with all the rain falling, there has been no need for it!
The level of work carried out was very pleasing and the difference will be notable going forwards.
Peter Moving on
Little bit of sad news next as our most senior member of the Greenkeeping team, Peter Fenton, will be leaving us shortly.
Peter joined us a few years ago after relocating from West Yorkshire but will now move up to the position of Head Greenkeeper at Whitby Golf Club.
We’re grateful for the work Peter has done in his time with us and we wish him all the best in his new position, which will undoubtably see an improvement in the course at Whitby.
Despite the negatives in losing a good man like Peter, we always want to promote career progression for our staff and we are proud to see him achieve the position of Head Greenkeeper. In recent years, 4 members of our team have now gone on to take up Course Manager or Head Greenkeeper positions and this is great to see.
This will leave us short of staff temporarily while we find a suitable replacement for Peter. We want to take our time and find the right individual so if the condition of the golf course isn’t quite as you would normally expect in the next few weeks, please bear with us. The rest of us will try to cover as best we can in order mitigate any negative impact on course conditioning though, so fingers crossed all will remain well.
On the course despite the persistently damp and wet weather, turf condition is still very good. Having achieved a very high percentage of bent and fescue grass species within our turf now (above 90%), disease and disorders are far less prevalent than several years ago when the turf was dominated with annual meadow grass.
That said it isn’t without problems and we are still seeing the effects of Take All Patch and Dollar Spot. The influence of these in the turf is only minimal but none the less is still an area for concern.
We are able to manage Dollar Spot pretty well and as long as it is identified early and iron sulphate applied swiftly. Then it’s spread can be checked and it’s impact limited.
This is more challenging when we experience long periods of sea mist and high humidity, as we did for about a week in August. However, so far so good and we are past the peak period of risk in the year with temperatures cooling off. Fescue is the main species affected by Dollar Spot but overall any damage is more superficial, only leaving the leaf of the plant bleached for a time.
Take all patch is more difficult, as we don’t have a quick remedy for it. Part of the problem is our irrigation water is a higher pH than that of the soil and this does favour the diseases development. Take All affects the bent grass and unlike the Dollar Spot does unfortunately kill the plant where it occurs.
Our response has been to seed fescue into the bare areas left by the disease and this is proving to be successful. The downside is the short term loss of turf quality, but we will continue to persue ways of further minimising it’s impact. Again as with Dollar Spot, conditions favouring the disease are now easing.
The diversity of the nature continues to be pleasing and we have had the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust on site again, this time surveying hedgehogs. The trust are looking at certain species that aren’t doing so well and trying to better understand why this is.
Although results were affected by the wet weather, it was pleasing to see that hedgehogs are on site. With declining numbers nationally, we hope to see an increase in hedgehogs across the course as we begin to understand more about their habits and movements. Wherever possible we will be working with the trust to explore ways of helping the much loved creatures.
With a busy schedule throughout the autumn, it will be business as usual with routine course maintenance being prioritised. Hopefully we will see an extended season, especially having lost most of spring due to lockdown.
One area where we will begin to focus on though is with the long rough in more out of play areas. This will invlove cutting and collecting and is carried out every autumn to help thin and improve the diversity of species growing in the grasslands.
Areas in play have seen a huge improvement in recent years as a result of the cut and collect process and we remain intent on increasing the area of well managed grasslands in the future.
Finally, with one eye on the winter months, a progam of work is being put together and will be sent out to members in the coming weeks. It will also be included in next month’s blog, so look out for that at the end of September!