Wow, what a summer for golf! We had record-breaking temperatures combined with a record-breaking lack of rainfall which made for great golfing conditions. Although these conditions are great for playing the game, it makes the life of us greenkeepers very difficult. We had our irrigation system on non-stop for about 12 weeks meaning the old pipework was working very hard, and we had multiple leaks to deal with throughout the drought. At Richmond, we only have the ability to water greens and tees, and these areas performed very well as we undertook a strict and regimented wetting agent program which helps break the surface tension of water and spreads it evenly throughout the rootzone, meaning we could reduce the amount of water we applied without any detrimental effect on the playing surfaces.
During September, we undertook essential greens maintenance work. This involved pencil tining, topdressing and rolling. The work was completed over 2 days and caused a minimal impact on the playability, which was very pleasing. Our winter maintenance program will be a mixture of sarrel rolling and slitting, which again won’t be noticeable due to its low surface disturbance but will make a big difference to how the greens cope with the autumn and winter months.
The fairways and approaches were unfortunately left to nature, and as a result, we lost quite a bit of grass cover in these areas, but that is no different to any other course in the south of England this summer without the ability to water fairways. Thanks to recent investment, we have been able to buy our own Vredro overseeding machine, meaning we can perform this task in-house as and when conditions are favourable. During September and October, we used 200 20kg bags of seed to overseed all tees, approaches, fairways and walkway areas. This will be supplemented with a liquid feed in the coming weeks to help the new seed establish and thicken out before the winter hits.
Coming up in early November, the fairways will be vertidrained to allow water to move through the rootzone, this was completed last year by external contractors, but this year, thanks to more investment, we have bought our own vertidrain and will be completing this task ourselves with a lot more flexibility.
In the coming months, we will be implementing our disease resistance program on the greens so that they stay in great condition. This includes organic fertilisers, non-pesticide products that promote the plant’s natural defences like Phosphite & Salicylic acid, dew management to prevent surface moisture at night, which stops disease spores from spreading easily and finally, as a last resort when conditions are favourable for disease development we will use fungicides in conjunction with iron products.
The rest of the course is now in recovery mode from drought, with September being warmer and wetter than May, just what we needed to kick growth back into action, so although the calendar says Autumn, the grass is thinking Spring! It’s great for us as it helps germinate all that seed quicker and means we can keep presenting the courses like we are still mid-season.
Looking forward to the next few weeks, it will be mainly focused on bunker maintenance, including edging and weeding, and tees divoting in order to get turf recovery before winter, which will avoid the need for temporary tees. Fairway vertidraining, as mentioned above, then fairway slitting to join up the areas to allow water to move both vertically and horizontally. I’m sure we will be spending a lot of time blowing leaves in the not-too-distant future as well. Our first winter project will be the installation of a Huxley tee mat to the 17th Dukes white tee. This will allow all-year-round play to a tee that suffers badly from the shade. We’ll then move on to pathway installation and renovation. It will be a busy off-season for the greenkeeping team, just how we like it. Hopefully, the weather will be cold and dry, allowing golf to be enjoyed and the greenkeeping team to be fully productive.
Glendale Golf Area Course Manager (south)
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