I suppose there is only one subject to focus on this month and that is where we go following the most extreme summer conditions that we have ever experienced in the UK over July and August and the drought conditions that are continuing through September.

Rainfall figures continue to sit well below average for us here despite areas both east and west of Wiltshire receiving significant and effective rainfall through the early part of September. We have not received the replenishing rainfall that most other parts of the south of England have received and irrigation is a poor replacement for actual rainfall.

Rainfall Figures for 2022 vs Average

2022 Average
June 49mm 48mm
July 12mm 40mm
August 19mm 45mm
September 41mm 55mm
Annual Total 365mm 530mm (at 1 October)

Tough times for turf!

Through the hottest and driest periods of the season we were experiencing rapid and widespread loss of turf coverage on the course, in part caused by extreme heat and in part caused by lack of water which was exacerbated by some problems with the irrigation system. Once the irrigation problems were remedied and we were back applying daily irrigation it really was a matter of damage limitation because evaporation rates were more than twice the level that our, and most golf course irrigation systems in this country for that matter, could irrigate to. Tough times for growing grass.

Since then we have seen a proportion of what we would expect for September and as a result we have seen some excellent recovery across the entire course. Naturally not every piece of turf has bounced back and there are still some areas that are bare and lack growth but a little reminder, we have just experienced the most extreme summer conditions this country has ever seen. We expect a lot from those small plants that we trod over day-in, day-out, mow every day and take divots from with every golf stroke.

Looking forward, the team are focusing on recovering from the hot spell as a priority over all work aside from the morning course set up.

Key processes to help everything bounce back and recover turf are:

  • Extensive aeration to aid irrigation and rainfall infiltration
  • Solid tining and overseeding selected greens to establish strong bentgrass populations where we have lost poa turf stands
  • Spot treating of small areas by hand with seed and topdressing
  • Overseeding selected areas on approaches, tees and fairways
  • Returfing of selected areas which saw the worst of summer stress, particularly tees

Fairway areas that we hollow-tined in the summer have been performing very well with visibly more healthy turf and this is a clear demonstration of the importance of a committed aeration programme to promote year-round turf health. We will continue to aerate across all areas of the golf course at every given opportunity, please have patience with the team when they are working at these jobs.

Again, I can’t stress enough the impact that long periods of high temperatures and extended drought conditions have on cool season grasses, we lose root mass and we lose growth and it takes time to bring things back. We are not in Spain; we have completely different grass varieties and species that do best in temperatures below 20 odd celsius, not above 30 celsius.

Bird and Grub Damage

It is hard not to notice the damage that crows and rooks are doing to turf areas around the putting green and on some fairways. The birds are feeding on chafer grubs and tear the turf up to reach the grubs which generally sit around 50mm below the surface. Our current control methods for the grubs are legally limited biostimulants, garlic extracts and nematodes which everyone can see are not really effective but we are persisting. Areas affected will be designated GUR.


Yours in sport.

Jaey Goodchild
Head Greenkeeper