Autumn is upon us and rainfall for the month stands at 100mm as of 25th October, well short of last year but still a fair way above average. An extended period of dry weather through September helped us through October but we have been seeing signs of wear and tear on the course after two spells where roughly 50mm fell in 36 hours in each spell, quite heavy downpours. There are areas on the course that would be hazardous to take a buggy through so for that reason we have had to make a call on buggy traffic to keep everyone safe.

We were talking about the tees in the lunchroom the other day and a few of the team commented on how well the tees have been standing up to traffic over the season so far, particularly as we have had near-record levels of play on the course since re-opening in March.

Tees really do cop a beating, whether it be from divots or spike and shoe damage and there are a few actions that we carry out to help them recover from the wear and tear of daily play.

  • Provide adequate nutrition
  • Divot regularly with a suitable soil and the correct seed
  • Rotate the marker locations to spread wear

Nutrition is fairly basic; we generally apply a simple nitrogen and seaweed liquid fertiliser every month to allow the turf to maintain continual growth. Additionally, we use a growth regulator that will “thicken” the plants and divert energy from top growth to lateral growth, effectively encouraging knitting of the turf and aiding regrowth over divots.

Regular divotting is essential to recovery. We use a sand-based divot mix that has roughly 20% organic content, the sand adds weight to the mixture and keeps it in place on the surface. Plus, it is compatible with our topdressing programme for thatch management and surface drainage. The small amount of organic material helps to retain some moisture and adds a little extra nutrition to help the seed germinate and establish.

When it comes to seed, two things are essential: 1) finding a grass species that will tolerate wear and 2) finding one that will germinate quickly to ensure that growth is underway as soon as possible. Conveniently ryegrass ticks both boxes here. It has been the grass of choice for tees for many years now – plus it is the most used species for all heavy-use sports surfaces including football, rugby and horse racing surfaces.

We aim to divot the tees every week to keep the seed going in and maintain continual germination and have used around 180kg of seed this year just divotting.

Marker rotation is part of the general course set-up routine undertaken daily. Marker location is ultimately dictated by competition requirements, but rotating across the tee surface will allow us to spread wear and allow trafficked areas some time to recover and recently divoted areas time to establish.

That’s all for this month. Before I know it, I will be sitting down penning my November piece in which I will focus on another topical subject like in September and October.

Yours in sport.

Jaey Goodchild
Head Greenkeeper