And so the seasons turn.
After a very dry spring and a record-breaking hot summer, we have seen a big break in the weather with some welcome rain through September and October. The last few days of October brought some extreme rainfall with over 60mm falling on Friday 21 October and Sunday 23 October with the majority falling in short, very intense cloud bursts. Despite the rainfall across through period, we are still well short of the annual average.
Temperatures have remained mild and consequently, growth has been maintained across all surfaces. Bentgrass growth on greens has been very strong which is giving us both infill on summer scarring and dominance over poa annua. This is a similar growth habit to spring when overnight temperatures are still cool with days becoming sunny.
Following heat and drought conditions that lead to turf loss across areas of the golf course the team spent considerable time undertaking overseeding and turfing to help recover surfaces. Most tees were overseeded with ryegrass, the same varieties that we use in our divot mix. Selected fairways were overseeded with a combination of ryegrass and fescue.
Additionally, four greens were solid tined and overseeded with bentgrass before applying a reasonable topdressing to aid infilling the holes.
Germination has been strong albeit slow given that temperatures are a little lower than ideal for grass seed germination. Counter to this, as discussed earlier, growing temperatures are ideal for strong bent and rye growth so we are seeing strong growth and will have solid establishment on surfaces which are dominated by either species.
Numerous small areas across the course have been turfed, all of which have settled in well
Worm casts are upon us once again and as I have detailed in previous years we do not have any control measures in a bottle. We have played with a few alternatives including biostimulants and acidity regulators but control is limited at best from these. We are caught between a rock and a hard place with this; having worms is a strong indicator of healthy soils and worms contribute greatly to aeration which creates an improved growing environment for turfgrass. The issue comes with surface disruption caused by the casting. Couple casting with consistent foot traffic and we have a situation that reduces rainfall infiltration thus creating a muddy surface. Long term topdressing with sand will help alleviate the impact but it will never eliminate the issue of casting, as will regular aeration to aid infiltration of rainfall and reduce consequence.
Crow damage has been persistent and severe in places, notably adjacent to the large putting green. The birds are seeking chafer beetle larvae which, like worms, there are no legal means of control. We have tried compounds to discourage the birds and biological solutions to impact the larvae population. The problem of insect pests has been lobbied hard by industry bodies to regulators so there may be hope of a highly restricted solution in the near future, any help would be of benefit.
We are looking at a period of persistent rain over the coming days which may see restrictions on golf traffic being put in place. Restrictions are put in place to minimise the impact of traffic on the course and consequent damage. Over the summer the team have undertaken work to aid infiltration of rainfall to help keep surfaces playable through wet periods including hollow tining and topdressing, identifying and remedying failed drainage lines and aeration work. Remember that golf is an outdoor sport played on natural soils and traffic will impact surface. We look to soils to hold water during summer but then expect them to shed water in winter, a fine balancing act you could say.
See you on the course.