Finally, after years of waiting, 2018 has delivered a summer. Long periods of sunshine without rain, and increased wear with more golfers being able to play, have left some areas of turf worn out and devoid of grass cover. Recent rain has identified which areas are going to recover and which are not. High spots, such as lips of the bunkers where any rainfall has run off and areas that were dominated with annual meadow grass have unfortunately been subject to too much stress and in many areas, the plants are dead. Lower-lying areas and areas with perennial grasses (fescues, bents and ryegrass) are now greening up quickly and demanding mowing once more.
In the dead areas, we will use this as an opportunity to establish drought-tolerant perennial turfgrasses, which will help prevent this happening again in the future. If left, the areas will soon be colonised by Poa annua from wind-blown seed, the weak rooting of these plants will cause this issue to reappear whenever the next period of drought hits.
The greens on both courses over the last 4 weeks will have been playing slower than we are used to. This is because we took the decision to raise the height of cut to protect them from the dry weather. You will have noticed bare patches on most greens where growth was struggling. We undertook a full fertilisation program to promote growth in the grasses that were struggling in the conditions. The timing from a weather point of view was fortunate, as we had some heavy rain that helped wash in the fertiliser and the growth process started in earnest. Now we have much more even surfaces we can start to drop the cutting height so that we get the green speeds we are used to for the remainder of the season.
Two of the casual summer staff have returned to School/college. We will lose at least another one of the remaining two in the coming weeks.
We are now into planning the winter program. Focusing again on improving the areas in need of most attention.
- Height of cut has been Lowered to 3mm on both courses. This will be further lowered to 2.5mm in the coming weeks.
- Aeration has been carried out on several greens on the Cawder course as some disease had been observed.
- Insecticide has been applied this week.
TEES AND SURROUNDS
- Height of cut is currently 9mm
- Tees that have suffered most from the dry weather have been seeded and aeriated to promote germination. They will continue to look scruffy until strong enough grasses return.
- Height of cut is currently 13mm
- Full Divot program has been completed on both courses.
- GUR Areas have been seeded and turfed where applicable. Again, these will take time to recover and will be reviewed in the winter program.
- Height of cut currently 40mm
- Introduction of a ‘1st cut’ at 25mm on the Keir course will be undertaken now that growth allows it.
The pictures below give us an idea of what our greenstaff have been facing this year and indeed greenkeeping teams across the country have been up against with the elements this year. I’d like to thank our team for the extra hours and hard work they have put in this season under what have been the most volatile weather conditions I’ve ever witnessed.