The recent summer solstice means we’re just about halfway through the year. Already! The evenings are long and by now we would expect to see the fairways turn a rich golden texture, as the sun relentlessly bakes the grass.
By July, the golf courses are normally cooking away on gas mark nine and we’d be all hands to the pump, hand watering greens and tees. We would also be reducing the frequency of mowing. Grass struggles to grow without moisture and cutting only stresses it further.
Yet it’s still very green out there.
There was 167mm of rain in June (average is 62mm). Instead of the roots shutting down and dormancy setting in, we are seeing the opposite. Grass is flourishing with the combination of high temperatures and a plentiful supply of water. Grass is enjoying way too many drinks at this photosynthesis party. The result? Rough may be little denser than normal, but it does create some stunning hi-definition golf as you can see in the pics.
This part of the season always brings with it some beautiful changes in ecology. Butterflies, dragon flies and bees to name a few and we are blessed to see them thrive here at Richmond Park. The long grasslands encourage this and we work closely with the Royal Parks to preserve this beautiful habitat.
Under normal circumstances, this is a good time for training new members of our team. We’ve made it through the characteristic spring flush of growth and we have a window of opportunity before autumn arrives and conditions get soft and wet. Well, that isn’t the case right now as we continue our non-stop cutting, but we’ve still managed to carry out essential training.
Grassland and grass identification is part of the syllabus for our formal greenkeeping qualifications. Two of the team are working towards their NVQ Level 2 in Sports Turf Management and during our recent grass ident unit we have discovered ten different species of grass. This is actually very rare as most golf courses will have around five. Rye, Fescue and Bent are the most common species found on British golf courses, Timothy, Barren brome, Italian rye and Quaker grass are some of the more unusual types that we’ve identified and enrich the landscape and biodiversity at Richmond Park Golf Course. This is something we should embrace as the world adapts to more eco-friendly solutions, climate change, preserving nature and less use of pesticides.
For July, I’ll fittingly sign off with a famous quote by naturalist Henry David Thoreau:
Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.