Birr Golf Club – Course Blog November 2018

Contributed By: Eoghan Buckley, Head Greenkeeper

A lot of the early part of October was spent keeping on top of mowing as temperatures remained in the mid-teens with very little frost. In between mowing days, we were busy cleaning up after Alec Spain tree Care, who came in and did two days of stump grinding.

Radio Controlled Stump Grinder in action on Hole 6

We removed all the chip and excavated out approximately 4 ‘’ deep where the old stumps were. We will backfill with fresh soil and seed when we get an opportunity.  Alec will come back in the springtime and do a further two days on holes 16 and 18 grinding stumps of Leylandii and Poplar.  Our rough machine will be glad to see the back of all these stumps. No matter how careful the operator, there has been a few repairs over the years to decks trying to avoid them.

Winter rules for golf are now firmly in place and along with them are our traffic control measures. We try to minimise as best possible the number of ropes, stakes and directional hoops that go out on the course. Around greens, we have put directional hoops to stop traffic going through narrow areas which will become quite mucky and lose significant grass cover if left without.

Directional hoops deterring traffic between bunker and green on Hole 4

On certain holes, we have put ropes up to direct traffic away from hollows which traditionally are wet in the winter time.  Its hoped in the future we may be able to carry out some targeted topdressing to these areas to allow traffic on them throughout the winter months, the finances will determine this going forward. There has been a couple of tee boxes where we have had to rope off around as ride on buggies continue to drive up on to them. Just because you can drive up on it doesn’t mean you should!!

I’ve spoken in the past about the problems our industry faces as we continue to see the removal of a lot of our registered plant protection products. The low budget courses that can’t afford to apply fungicides preventatively monthly is going to see situations where percentages of disease on greens surfaces will be higher than in the past. This is predominantly due to the susceptibility of Annual Meadow-grass to the disease Microdochium patch in the winter and Anthracnose in the summer.  The move towards incorporation of other species such as bents, fescues and even ryegrass has become popular as more people are looking to an integrated approach to greens management.  Golfers will have to accept conditions at certain times of the year when there may be disease scars on greens as the course’s budget may not stretch to a preventative program.  In my experience, these scars don’t affect ball roll significantly and if greens are rolled frequently during these periods, playability should not be an issue. But the cosmetic appearance will be different, the same as if you were buying an organically grown vegetable versus a chemically produced one.  It’s up to greenkeepers to educate their golfing members and their board, as to the limit of what they can achieve within the budget provided. We, as greenkeepers are our biggest critics, so we also may need to accept the cosmetic changes of surfaces as we face into an era of uncertainty in the plant protection market.

Microdochium Patch affecting annual meadow grass on greens