Contributed By: Tom Carew, Course Superintendent
Augusta syndrome normally kicks in around April when some golfers want their course conditions to be like TV golf. But unfortunately, there are many golf clubs in this country who don’t have the resources to match these expectations. Most greenkeepers would love to be able to produce championship conditions on a weekly basis, but if you don’t have the staff and machinery well it can become very difficult. Grass, being a living plant means that weather conditions can really dictate how your course plays. Very warm and wet, will create plenty of grass growth on all areas of the course, greens may become slower, rough gets thicker, and grass clippings will be on show! Very dry weather like last summer created very firm surfaces, fast greens and when we went into a drought meaning loss of grass cover and no recovery from course play.
The first thing a golf course superintendent will do on a Sunday evening is check the weather forecast for the week ahead and how is it going to affect the work schedule. Spray days must be factored in, as too wet or windy and you can’t spray certain products like pesticides or foliar fertilisers. How busy is the golf course needs to be considered on a weekly basis? Will the bunkers need extra raking because of rain, will the rough be messy this week, will I need to blow the rough??? If temperatures are up, I might be watering, there could be a good chance of disease because of humidity. What staff are on holidays?? Have I the staff?? The fairways will need extra cutting because of growth!!!! Plus, there are many more scenarios that can occur like breakdowns etc So planning and routine are very important regarding golf course maintenance. But if you don’t have the appropriate set up the greenkeeper will always be chasing his/her tail, so as a golfer before making any remarks about any part of any golf course, be sure to know what you are really talking about, and maybe try and understand why this problem has occurred.
Thankfully in Craddockstown Golf Club the committee have increased our staff numbers for the Summer months. It is one thing having the machinery to cut all areas of the course, but you need the staff to drive them, and they need to know what they are doing! The extra bodies are certainly needed during the growing season as the frequency of cut increases on all areas of the course!
- Greens are cut daily
- Tees/Fairways/ Approaches three times a week
- Surrounds twice a week
- Rough cut once a week, some sections of the rough are cut twice
- We normally try and keep the rough clean when possible, so we do a lot of blowing to ensure the clippings are kept to a minimal especially in the playing areas.
April and May were certainly very dry months in Craddockstown Golf Club, from a clubs point of view this was great weather for golf and from my point of view this weather caused some stress, we are currently installing a new irrigation line and new cable around the golf course, as well as two new pumps. Our old system was not fit for purpose PVC pipe!! In fairness to the members in the club, they have put their hands in their pockets to get the irrigation installed! So, the dry weather in April/May was an issue as we had no water on some parts of the course! Thankfully the rain has arrived, and the new irrigation set up should be finished mid-June!
The overseeding that was carried out in the spring certainly came to the fore in April and early May any worn areas or scars certainly healed up. We will be overseeding again over the next six weeks. But if the weather becomes very dry this process will be stopped. Our open week has moved to August, so this allows us some time to carry out some extra overseeding if conditions allow.
Murphy’s law has certainly struck once again the new irrigation pipe now in place and the rain hasn’t stopped!