Mild temperatures throughout October extended the growing season with some lovely days and I expect many of you enjoyed the late spell of this weather, until the run of storms came through.
The final days of October saw have seen almost 150mm of rain fall in 2 weeks. This has had a significant impact on the course and wider area. Thankfully we received much less than other parts of the country.
Greens height of cut has been raised to 5mm, one more step up to 5.5mm will be made in the coming days. Disease incidence has been low despite the high moisture levels and humidity.
Preventative fungicide was applied to cover this period of very risk of disease. Regular, specific fertility inputs will compliment this application and reduce the impact of and minor disease outbreaks.
Fungicide availability has been impacted in recent years by a clampdown by industry regulators and legislation on the range of active ingredients that are available to non-agricultural, amenity users. All turfgrass users no longer have access to “contact” type fungicides that offer immediate control of turf diseases. We now must rely upon the sum of sensible cultural methods, promoting resilient species, specific fertility inputs and preventative fungicide application.
Positive feedback has resulted in selecting a new sand to begin a sand exchange programme in our bunkers. Sand availability has become a challenge as quarries across the country come to the end in both stock and extraction licences for access to sports-specific sand, a little different to common building sand in case anyone was wondering. We are sourcing our sand from quarries in Dorset who have a further 20 years of extraction licences and stock that exceeds this.
Short term plans are to complete sand exchange across all bunkers on holes 1, 2, 18 and 9 over the winter. There are drainage issues and wear and tear to edges that will be addressed as this work progresses.
Better quality, used sand will be transferred to bunkers in need of a top until sand is exchanged.
A note on course care; stepping up steep bunker faces, particularly on green-side edges will damage edges and lead to premature repair or rebuild work being required.
As I have discussed for a few years now, work control is a challenge because we have had our old-school solutions-in-a-bottle revoked and since 2018 have not had this luxury that generations of greenkeepers and golfers have enjoyed the benefit of. Since use of these products have stopped we have seen worm populations grow annually as pesticide residue has declined and soil health has improved.
Our management strategy has changed from “control the worms” to “alleviate the symptoms of worms”, which translates to: the worms are still there and always will be.
This year we made a substantial investment in a powered, rotary brush which fits to our largest tractor. You would have seen this implement running while we were integrating 150 tonnes of topdressing sand into fairways eight, fifteen and three following hollow coring this summer.
Brushing the turf surface of worm-affected areas will lift the turf and redistribute the worm casts from piles. Lifting the turf will counter the appearance of smothered turf. Brushing is a time intensive process, it must be done in addition to mowing which turns fairway mowing from a two-man job into a three-man job.
Ropes have been installed to direct traffic away from problem areas. We need to minimise the impact of play on high traffic and play-sensitive areas. We continually monitor areas and adjust roping as required. Do take note of signs and ropes to preserve your golf course.
Enjoy your golf and see you on the course.