The year rolls on and suddenly we are seeing the leaves changing colour and autumn creeping in. Our rainfall pattern through August and into early September lead to a strong growth surge and a great opportunity for growing in any areas that thinned through the warm, dry spell of July.
August rainfall ended at 75mm, roughly 3 inches, and so far to date we are sitting on 35mm for September although the coming days are forecast to be wet with some significant rainfall due.
Recovery from renovation week in August was excellent with hollow cores healed over and virtually invisible only a fortnight after work. Our bentgrass overseeding lines have settled and the new plants have established well with great visibility particularly in the early morning dew.
We have had some disease issues at the tail end of summer with mild cases of anthracnose hitting the poa and isolated cases of take-all affecting bentgrass. The impact of these diseases can be minimised with tailored fertility inputs that will strengthen the plant, applying a specific feed if the symptoms become visible can greatly reduce the damage caused.
Often, I discuss trying to find a balance when managing the greens and managing late season anthracnose is a classic example. The quickest way to suppress anthracnose is to apply a nitrogen rich fertiliser which will give the plant a fast-acting boost to grow out of the stressful periods that anthracnose will always capitalise on. But, as we head out of summer and the days shorten, an annual shift towards higher humidity air plus falling overnight temperatures greatly increases the amount of dew forming on the turf surface each night. The combination of a wet surface and “softer” growth from the fertiliser can lead to a higher incidence of fusarium, hence the balance of just enough nitrogen input to counter the anthracnose but little enough to not encourage fusarium.
Autumn work to the greens will see further solid tining to both encourage root growth while soil temperatures are still in the growing range and keep the soil profile open and well aerated. Topdressing will always continue while we have some growth but the rates that we are spreading at, is usually so well integrated within 48 hours that there is no evidence of the sand on the surface. We see even better results when we are topdressing during rain which gives us the added benefit of washing the sand into the sward and also means that we do not have to brush or drag the surface following topdressing.
October will see the start of grazing across long rough and wildflower areas. We will be likely rotating two mobs of around 200 ewes each across the areas. Fencing will be three-strand and electric, it is set up on the twelfth hole currently so access for ball finding will be unaffected. Grazing these areas has seen a great change to the density of the grassland, thinning and opening up the sward has allowed the wildflower populations to increase. This brings a whole raft of knock-on benefits but also helps those of you who are unfortunate enough to end up in the “rough”.
The annual pilgrimage of mining bees has once again arrived to nest in our bunker edging. These bees are a great reflection on the increase in biodiversity that we have been seeing over the last few years as we have reduced pesticide use, reduced irrigation and refined management of the long rough areas. The bees are solitary although they will live in colonies given their liking for such a unique habitat; south-facing, sandy soiled faces. They are not stinging bees so please don’t be alarmed by their presence and do view their success as a great thing to the landscape of our golf course.
As ever I will mention pitchmarks, to those of you who make the effort to spot and repair pitchmarks a big thanks from both our greenkeeping team and your fellow golfers. Let’s stay on top of easy task, it does make a huge difference to the quality of the putting surface.
See you on the course.