There is no mistaking where we are in the calendar year as the trees turn and the leaves fall with a vengeance but when we look back to last year we are in a much better position as far as ground conditions go. We saw some substantial rainfall over the last month, particularly in the first weekend of October which saw a national record for average rainfall in one day across the entirety of Great Britain. Currently we have had a touch under 100mm (4”) for October, above average, although given the dry spell of September the ground has taken this rainfall well and some would argue that is was much needed.
Ropes and traffic management measures have been placed on the course to minimise wear and tear to problem areas. By directing traffic to paths and known dry areas we are aiming to minimise the damage that concentrated foot traffic will cause and head off potential problems before the damage is done. We will continue to monitor these areas and move ropes plus install new measures where required.
Greens height of cut is currently 4.5mm, in the next fortnight we will step them up to 5.5mm for winter. Raising the mowing height is standard turfgrass culture for the off-season for a number of reasons, primarily to reduce the stress that mowing places on the plant, allowing the plant to produce more leaf tissue which is essential during periods of low light and short days.
Our main issue through autumn with fine turf areas, both greens and approaches, is fusarium. This fungal disease does best in the mild, damp conditions that we see in autumn and affects Poa annua turf most. Measures to reduce the impact of fusarium that we take are:
Our winter seasonal staff are back on the course with the continued goal of grazing our long rough areas down to reduce heavy grasses. Ultimately this will result in thinner grass across these areas which bring benefits such as easier ball finding and shot making, improved aesthetics and importantly, improved biodiversity over such a wide area. Improving these areas in combination with highly reduced pesticide use is seeing increases in populations of wildflowers, insects, mammals and birds year on year.
Back to the leaves, enjoy your autumn golfing and stay dry.
Yours in sport