We are coming through the winter in good shape...

We have an exciting year ahead of us with both events and course improvements again with focus on improving playing surfaces and making the most of summer weather to improve year-round playing conditions.


After speculation last month as to whether we would reach a total of 1000mm annual rainfall the final count was 975mm, just short of expectations but certainly up on long term averages.

As I write we are sitting on 78mm for January 2020 and the outlook is dry for the period up to month-end so hopefully we will not see much more rain in the next 10 days. It was great to see our first real spell of frost over the last few days, barring three isolated days in November which saw a very light ground frost that had burned off by 9am, winter minimum temperatures have been mild this year.

Frost, particularly on wet ground will help to open pore space within the soil as it freezes and thaws so from a soil management perspective it is a valuable seasonal occurrence.

Course Conditions

Ground conditions remain very wet across the course and restrictions remain in place regarding trolleys and buggies, specifically the requirement that all trolleys are used with winter wheels to minimise damage and allow us to keep the course open for play.

Last month I detailed the challenges that the team have been facing with managing our bunkers, these conditions continue as do our efforts, please bear this in mind through period of rain.

Greens Part 1

The winter season has seen a strong influx of moss to green surfaces which I would judge to be the strongest across my time here at Bowood and I will cover a few points about this both from causal and remedial perspectives.

From a cultural and fertility approach, encouraging bentgrass populations has seen a large reduction in fertiliser use and the nutrient we most focus on is nitrogen, which brings the following points to the forefront:

  • Reduced turf vigour will allow moss a footing in the turf surface.
  • Reduced turf vigour is a consequence of reducing nitrogen inputs.
  • Reducing nitrogen is part of a strategy to reduce thatch levels and encourage deeper rooting.
  • Fertilising specifically for Poa annua reduction sees the strongest moss population increases in Poa dominated areas of greens.

When we couple these management factors with the characteristics of nitrogen and winter environmental conditions:

  • Nitrogen is highly water soluble therefore susceptible to leaching.
  • Each high rainfall event sees soil nitrogen plus any recently applied nitrogen being lost through leaching.
  • Rainfall brings an increase in moisture on the surface.
  • Reduced golfer traffic through winter gives a stress-free environment for moss establishment.
  • Cool temperatures reduce the vigour of turf more so than that of moss.

Greens Part 2

When it comes to managing and reducing moss on the green surfaces we are looking at the following:

  • Given that turf growth and therefore recovery is slow we need to take an approach that will ensure surface disruption is minimised and greens performance is maintained.
  • Nutritional management for the benefit of the turf through low levels of nitrogen input to encourage growth when temperatures are warm enough.
  • Using iron fertilisers to stress the moss chemically.
  • Physical stress on the moss through low impact aeration which will also bring benefit to the turf through increased surface drainage.
  • Physical stress on the moss through pin position selection.

The key point in managing moss through cool and cold conditions of winter is that we need to maintain putting conditions for you, therefore the little-and-often strategy that we have adopted is:

  • Spray application of iron sulphate and simple nitrogen.
  • Double pass of micro-slitting.
  • Single pass of greens roller (turf iron).

We have applied this process three times in the past month with the stress to the moss apparent as turf growth is pushing through formerly dense moss areas.

Once temperatures rise and growth is more consistent we are then in a position to take a more assertive approach with the use of light scarifying to remove moss and an increase in fertiliser use which we will undertake in conjunction with spring renovation work in the first week of March.

And Finally...

After introducing low impact signage to encourage pitch mark repairs it does seem to be that the incidence of pitchmarks has reduced over the last few weeks, great news and good to see that a gentle reminder helps.

Looking forward to seeing you all on the course.

Roll on spring

Jaey Goodchild

Head Greenkeeper