Contributed By: Dave Edmondson BSc (Hons), Head Greenkeeper
The weather has been extremely different through the month of November with significant rainfall falling on the links. As it stands, we have received 134 mm of precipitation this month alone. This equates to more than the total rainfall for the months of May, June, July and August combined. To date, we have had limited frost and turfgrass growth is still apparent, albeit in small quantities.
Despite rainfall of late, surfaces aside from greens, aprons and surrounds are powder dry at depth, a sure sign of a dry summer despite using irrigation to the best of our ability in conjunction with soil surfactants. It would be fair to say, 2018 has been the most challenging year weather condition wise that I have faced in 20 years of greenkeeping, across 4 different countries. Unlike many other jobs working with nature can be challenging at times, as you never know which curveball is going to be thrown at you next.
Winter program work commenced around mid-October, in conjunction with links play levels decreasing. As this is a winter program that focuses primarily on links presentation, it is good to see that the following work has been completed by the links team:
Revetted bunker construction has taken place on holes: 4 (two completed), 9 approach, 10 LHS approach and the two approach bunkers on hole 16. In order to save time in the future, we have used an approach that involves a different construction technique, primarily at the base of the revetted wall. The process involves using recycled astroturf for the first 6 rows of the wall with natural building turf on top, meaning that anything artificial will be hidden underneath the sand line and out of view. Not only am I hoping this will extend the lifespan of the bunkers themselves, It should speed up the job in the future when rebuilding, as working to a fixed base will save us time when setting the bunkers up. This method will also ensure that our bunkers do not change shape over time unless need be of course. Several more bunkers are due to be completed by Christmas.
Returfing of Worn areas is almost complete with just a few areas left to attack on the front 9. This will improve the aesthetics of several areas that were prone to both traffic and drought damage through the summer months. We have opted for a Fescue/Rye mix that has worked well on the first tee complex this year and can withstand higher levels of wear.
Installation of sprinklers has taken place on the walk off from hole 6 and all along the 9th carry. Having the ability to water these areas effectively will no doubt lead to increased turfgrass quality. The raising of greenside sprinkler heads is ongoing whenever the opportunity arises and the front 9 has now been completed. Not only will this give us better coverage, it also eliminates the possibility of injuries to players if they were to trip on sunken heads.
DAR Golf Construction are carrying out several small construction projects around the site and this work is ongoing. The areas being addressed are as follows:
- The runoff to the left hand side of hole 4.
- The walk off from green 14.
- Some natural vegetation translocation to the left hand side of hole 11, areas where gorse was removed.
- Removal of gorse bushes at tee 11 and returfing.
After Christmas, DAR will be back on site to do some seabuckthorn mulching around the links in specific areas. Some time will be spent clearing gorse and trees to the right hand side of hole 10. This area is becoming overgrown with scrub and is quickly losing its links look.
In addition to the above works, it should be noted that agronomic work still has to continue for the long term improvement of the golf course. Over the last few months, the team and outside contractors have executed various agronomic operations that will add to the quality and playability of the links through the following months.
Deep Greens Aeration was carried out with the use of an Air 2 G 2 machine. This deep aeration method injects air down to a depth of roughly 10 inches. The channels created by the operation create space for new roots to move into, allow faster water infiltration into the surfaces, and allows the exchange of gases within the rootzone. As this is a none disruptive operation, surfaces are not effected afterwards with no disruption to play, firmness or ball roll characteristics.
Fairway Verti draining is currently ongoing and work is being carried out by Harris turf improvements. This operation involves the deep tining of fairways to a depth of 12 inches. This will aid water infiltration and improve rooting to depth.
Fairway Topdressing has been carried out on 2 occasions this autumn and a further 2 topdressings are planned through the early months of 2019. Topdressing of these large areas is carried out in house by the Island Greenkeeping team.
Rough management has recently started and this work will be ongoing until the later parts of January. Recently the club purchased an Amazone profi hopper which will be extremely useful in attacking some of the more difficult areas that the larger machine can’t access.
Mowing has taken place on an as needed basis in order to keep surfaces playing and performing to a good standard.
Outside of links improvement and winter program works all machinery is up to date with regards to servicing and sharpening. A digital GPS survey has taken place with regards to the existing irrigation system and the software has been upgraded with Rainbird on the PC irrigation controller. The latest version of this software will allow us to water and pinpoint faults more easily in the future. As systems advance, it is key that we keep up to date with the latest technology on all fronts. Storage bays have been constructed in the maintenance yard.
Over the next few months, we plan to continue working our way through the winter program and further updates will follow.