Heatwaves, Club Championships, PGA National Championship, what an eventful few weeks.
The much publicised and certainly much felt heatwave through the middle of the month had its consequences far and wide in the south of the country. From a turf management perspective very high temperatures coupled with a drying wind like we had in mid-June caused widespread stress to turf surfaces, particularly on the sandy soil areas of the course and in some areas we had turf mortality.
Some weather stats to cover the period might be of interest; my field thermometer is located just off the course in a pasture, about 6 feet off the ground, so there is some merit to suggest that it does give us a reading slightly below what would actually be experienced on the ground on the course.
Up until 26 July we had 21 days where the temperature peaked at above 20c, of which 12 days were above 25c and four days at 30c or above. Our rainfall total for July is currently 11mm with no rain forecast for the next ten days. These periods of high temperatures will see evaporation rates reach 4 – 5mm per day often and more when the wind is blowing. This equates that the 11mm of rainfall we have received so far in July would have been lost to evaporation in only two days. Certainly a testing time for anyone managing the land.
Irrigation is keeping us occupied with continual testing and monitoring to ensure we are getting as much coverage as we can out of the system. The challenge we have is uniformity of coverage and finding the balance between over watering some areas and underwatering others. Whenever possible we supplement with spot watering by hose on problem areas.
Looking back on the renovation work we have undertaken over the years and seeing what we have achieved through persistence is always positive. Early days would see extensive areas of green lifting, tearing and rolling up as we passed the aerating kit over the surface, primarily due to a weak root system and poor plant health. What we see now when we aerate is virtually zero surface disruption which ever method we use, testament to the benefits of this work.
Given the commitment that has been made to the process each spring and summer and the support from everyone to continue this work year in, year out it is great to be in a position where we can reduce the highly disruptive hollow coring process and substitute with solid tining to speed the recovery time and get play back under way much more quickly.
Greens renovation will this year involve scarifying the green and collar turf surface followed by a heavy topdress of sand and bentgrass seed. Once the topdressing is down we will spike the surface in a very tight pattern with micro solid tines and finish off with brushing, rolling and irrigation.
Flags will be positioned as temporary holes in fairway locations.
Additionally we will be hollowing coring the eighth and eleventh fairways before applying a heavy sand topdressing. Coring on this scale is new to the team so we will need to play around with the collection process to get it right, please have a little patience with us on these holes if you play through and the cores haven’t been collected.
Finally I’d like to comment on both Club Championships and PGA National Championships. We had a very challenging time preparing the course for these two events trying to create consistency across the greens and fairways as best we could through some of the most challenging UK weather conditions I have worked in. Everyone on the team put in effort above and beyond working both early starts and split shifts in preparation and in between days of play. The feedback from members, PGA organisers and the visiting professional golfers was exclusively positive so big thanks to the greenkeeping team for their efforts and to the membership for their support.
Yours in sport.