Contributed By: Dave Edmondson BSc (Hons), Head Greenkeeper
The months of February and March have remained mild and mixed throughout the period. It really has been an amazing winter from a frost perspective, as there has been little to none at all. To date, we have only had 4 full days of course closures through the entire winter! It really has been great seeing people out and about and enjoying the links during the winter months. The milder weather through January and February has only aided in recovery from a very tough summer of drought in 2018. Looking at monthly growth potential, it is clear to see there has been a drop off of late with temperatures dipping to slightly below March averages. On a positive note, we are not far away from the summer months and you certainly would notice this with the lighter evenings.
It is great also to see the end of the winter program in sight and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the team for their efforts in executing this plan. Sincere thanks also extends out to the contractors who have helped us achieve our goals through the winter works schedule.
Over the last few months, we have completed an awful lot of re-turfing throughout the links, most of which are in high impact areas that either 1.) Suffered from drought damage in 2018 or 2.) Needed to be addressed to improve links presentation. With the wet weather of late, it has been ideal, as we haven’t needed to carry out a lot of hand watering during the new turfs establishment.
All pathways are currently being edged, weeded and topped up with Grade D path sand to improve their aesthetics and presentation. Through the winter, the team have kept an eye on areas that are prone to washing out and several gullies have been installed on some of the steeper slopes.
DAR Golf Construction has been on site through January and February and have carried out several projects. These are as follows: Raising of the 9th pathway, so that water does not hold in this area, the installation of a drain at the practice range car park and they have been carrying out scrub and Seabuckthorn removal at the 8th tee, the removal of the willow trees from the gorse RHS of 10, on the dunes to the right-hand side of hole 11 and along the boundary of hole 3. These works were part of the ecological plan laid out by the STRI and have certainly cleaned up these areas and improved their appearance. It is lovely to see the great natural shapes of the dunes on hole 11 now from the front of the clubhouse. These were previously blocked with scrub type vegetation.
Putting surfaces continue to perform well through the winter months and are currently being mowed on a once or twice a week basis. Over the past few months, we have been experimenting with a tank mix of Ascophite Seaweed, this contains phosphite which is has been proven to reduce disease occurrence, silicon and iron. Any small amounts of disease scarring have started to fill in. This week we have carried out an overseeding operation with straight Bar fescue. The method used was a solid tine (8mm), a pass with the blec dimple seeder and a topdress to follow. As soil temperatures are relatively good, we saw this as an opportunity to carry out this work slightly earlier than normal. The benefits to carrying this out now would be, less traffic, elevated heights of cut, little need to carry out surface refinement works and higher moisture levels due to the recent rainfall. This method of seeding leaves little disruption to the putting surfaces now and also when the seed does germinates. We plan on sitting back now and letting nature do its thing, as we lead into the main competition season. There is also a benefit that we are not carrying this work out in the middle of busy play and can take our time in executing this operation.
Fairways have received a light feed and two applications of a high-quality surfactant wetting agent already this year. As wetting agents are generally broken down by microbial activity, their longevity is prolonged during the cooler months, meaning applications can be spaced out and we can utilise the recent rainfall that fell.
Over the next few weeks, we plan to bring back into play all new bunkers and turfed areas, to coincide with the beginning of counting competitions, club matches and increased play levels on the links.
All irrigation is up and running in preparation for any dry weather that we may experience over the coming months. Recently we upgraded our irrigation software to the latest version of Rainbird Nimbus. Within this software, there is a complexed mapping system. Using the links overhead image provided by Ebbert and Mackenzie, in conjunction with the GPS irrigation study carried out by Robin Hulme associates we have put in every sprinkler on the links into the overall map image and their designated station co-ordinates. Having such technology here at the club will allow us to get even more precise with our irrigation scheduling, quickly and effectively.
I was recently asked to carry out a 45 minute talk for BIGGA (British Institute of Golf Greenkeepers Association) in the North West of England. Talking in front of nearly 90 guys was enjoyable and the presentation was good for highlighting our site and the work that the team have carried out to industry colleagues. In addition to this, we produced an article for Pitchcare magazine which has gone out to the sportsturf industry throughout Europe.
Last but not least, I would like to say a big thank you to 4 of our members John, Jimmy, Dave and Michael for their hard work and efforts marram sprigging in between hole 7 and 8 near to the tee box. Many hands certainly did make light work in improving the presentation of this area.