AFTER THE HEATWAVE - AUGUST/ SEPTEMBER UPDATE
RECOVERY AND RENOVATIONS
During the recent weather, many people asked me if I was enjoying the heatwave/ drought or if I would now prefer a little rain. My stock answer to this was, a polite “this all day long”, followed by a quick explanation of the fact that although tiresome, having control of how much water is being applied to the course was far better than lying there at night hearing it hit the window night after night!!
I was also asked on numerous occasions how long the dry spell would last for? This one was always easy for me to answer, as I knew the family and I had booked a 10 day holiday in Cornwall in the middle of August. This was always destined to bring the drought to a finish! How right I was! The Thursday evening we drove down coincided with the first rainfall Cornwall had had in 4 months!! I brought them so much rain that week they have a erected a wicker man style statue in my image, as the god of clear, salt free liquid!!!
Anyway back to things that matter! On my return, I could not believe the change that the course had taken in a week. To say we are currently experiencing a “flush of growth” is an understatement. I have to say at this point, Matt Stones my deputy, stepped into my shoes admirably with all the team pulling together whilst I was away (under our Director of Greens close supervision). Thanks Team.
Now having once again hosted all our “major” events for the summer season it is time for me to begin planning and preparing for the pre-booked greens renovation works in September.
However, before I get to that I wish to explain my plans with regards to all the work that needs to be carried out to rectify the drought damage that occurred across the course during the dry period.
We are presently at the ugliest stage of recovery, where we have a combination of fast-growing surviving grass next to patches of dead grass. This will grow out and eventually look all the better for it. What treatments we give these weak areas will speed up and improve the quality of the recovery. This process would go a lot quicker and smoother if the weather plays ball but I’m not holding my breath.
The main areas I’m going to concentrate on initially are our tee’s, fairways, collars and approaches. There are some bunker surrounds that will need more intense work at a later date.
PLAN OF ACTION
The plan of action on the tees, collars and approaches (this has already begun):
Double verticut all their surfaces - thus removing lots of the dead matter and chopping the mature surviving grass into smaller/ finer plants that will then spread and “infill” and improve playing surface uniformity. The next step will be to top-dress all these surfaces.
Solid tine surfaces - immediately going over the topdressing with our solid tiner will help ameliorate the dressing into the surface. The combination of the tine holes and dressing will then provide a perfect growing medium for the seed that is to be applied at the next stage.
Fairways have suffered a similar fate as the aforementioned areas. We therefore plan to carry out a similar renovation. Weather permitting we will be going over all the fairways at some point with our very own fairway v-cut, as we have done in previous years. However, unlike previous years, the debris will now be collected with our flail collector that was bought last year, making it a lot less time consuming and disruptive process. As a minimum, the worst areas of weakened fairways (10th and 17th etc.) will be dressed, tined and over sown.
This entire work programme is planned to be carried out using all our own equipment. Unfortunately, due to the same machinery having to be used to carry out a number of these tasks, this will obviously lengthen this process slightly. We will endeavor to carry the works as quickly and smoothly as possible but we ask you during this time and especially during the recovery period to please be patient.
We have our usual window booked in for green renovation works, week commencing Monday, 10th September. We will endeavor to get as much completed within this window but some works may proceed this date in preparation for the more intensive work to follow. During this work the course will remain fully open, but some greens/ holes will be closed periodically or temps will be in use.
As a matter of course, we always carry out a number of soil tests prior to the actual renovations. These provide an informed picture of what situation we have at present and where we should be targeting our attention. I am still waiting for the results of the final test samples. What has however, become clear from the test results we have got back, is that a minor issue had occurred during the long period when only irrigation water was being used. This should be easily rectified and explains a few symptoms I’ve noticed. I am so glad to have diagnosed and rectified this issue and so will have prevented it from causing surface drainage issue through the winter period.
From the results we have so far, it is clear that we have to initially address the slight organic buildup of material in the very upper playing surface (created from last summer wet weather). This will be achieved by a combination of verti-cutting (-5mm) and hollow-coring on all the putting surfaces. The depth and diameters of the cores to be removed is yet to be determined from the final test results.
I will not bore you again with all the reasons why it is so important to carry out this work on the greens. I’ll just remind you it is essential to physically remove/exchange as much organic matter from the greens and replace with clean material to maintain a healthy, well balanced environment for the correct grasses to thrive.
The physical action of opening up the surface, also gives us an opportunity to introduce products directly into the subsurface of the greens. These products can or will then be present for the foreseeable future and certainly a lot longer than it takes for the scars to grow over. I am excited that we will be applying such a product during these greens renovations and cannot wait to see future soil sample results that indicate positive changes in the long standing status quo!
I will finish this blog with some great news. The club has agreed further investment in our fleet of equipment available to greens department. Board approval has been received to purchase a tractor mounted drain-jetter. This will enable us to flush out drains we know of and/or come across during any future works. This will also help identify “pinch points” which may be causing large stretches of pipe work from flowing. I would like to thank the Directors for this and all the other investments they have approved over recent years.
Fingers crossed we shall have a more forgiving autumn and winter than last year!!