Having little rain over the winter was a good thing for golf but not for recovery on turf. The lack of rainfall to replace last years drought has not happened this winter meaning we started the year in a negative, rainfall wise. December tried its hardest to help claw some back but January was again low, February was above average helping us recover very quickly from maintenance week but March and Now April have been low. In fact so low we have only had 36mm of rain but due to the high daytime temperatures of the last two weeks our Evaporation has been 50.3mm, meaning a deficit of 14.3mm to date and another step back. So far this year we have had 223mm of rainfall on our new weather station (on top of the greenkeeper sheds, giving us accurate data). and on the same date last year we had 399mm. So what I hear you say! Last year was considered an awful spring, the 'Beast from the East' one and two... Without moisture and temperatures you cannot grow grasses or any plants or food more worryingly. Last year the lack of heat then extreme heat, this year lack of moisture with heat is just as bad and this has a knock on effect to the golf course.
|Compost spread on fairways|
The team have worked hard on re turfing bunkers and hollow coring, scarifying and over-seeding fairways. We also added green waste (compost) back on to the worst fairways to help us try to retain moisture and to give a natural feed to the weaker fairways on top of the granular and liquid fertilisers applied. Not only were the fairways worked on but we hollow cored surround and solid tined them too, these were over seeded and fertilised too including all the weak areas and pathway ends around the course. All the work has been done for these to recover as we get rain and they will. The next stage will be to go round and get the detail areas done. By this I mean more soil and seeding of weak worn areas, spraying weeds and getting on top of the course detail. Our man hours will now turn to all this rather than the all the work mentioned above. We will also be praying for some rain!
|Once bush up you can see how much the bent grows compared to the Poa|
|Double bush and Lower HOC will help until temps pick up|
The Rye grasses and the Bents have woken up from winter and soil temperatures are high enough for these to be going well but not quite high enough for the Poa grasses on the greens or on the fairways and rough. The Fescues are not quite awake yet either and all this is normal for time of year. Like I always say our golf season has started but mother nature always seems to start her season up after the FA cup final... why I don't know but by mid May every year we are up and running again.
|Soil Temps still not high enough for good Poa growth but great for Bent|
|The higher bent grasses cause the ball to bobble|
So what effect does the grass species have on you the golfer? Well firstly the greens will get a little bit bumpy and no this isn't caused by 8mm solid tines on greens or Topdressing, in fact both of these thing have been scientifically proven to smooth out surfaces. We also carry this out every month without fail, we even carried this out between the Club Championships and Pro Am last year and no one noticed... The uneven growth in April is a big issue and as we try to encourage more Bent grasses species into the greens over the next few years will need to managed properly. Why would we try to encourage more Bents then? This is due to restrictions on us as an industry to use chemicals, in fact by 2020 the major chemicals we use to prevent Fusarium will be banned.We have already lost chemical for worms, leather jackets, chafer grubs and these we have started to see the effects from this already with more bird pecking and increase in mole hills. The chemical we had to stop fusarium on green once we had it was banned last year giving us nothing to cure it apart from cultural practices... Cultural practices like Topdressing and aeration! The bent grass species is more drought tolerant and more disease resistant, hence why we are encouraging it.
So I have explained why we need to encourage Bent grasses above but I have already blogged alot about why the greens get bumpy when the soil temperatures aren't quite right and all about the grass species. If you read these please read here:- http://stonehamgolfclub.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2016-06-11T03:56:00-07:00&max-results=7&start=7&by-date=false
What have we been doing to help correct this? Well, we have lowered the heights of cut ready for the season and we have started to double brush the greens before we cut them to get the bent grasses to stand up tall so we cut them and improve the ball roll. We will be adding more topdressing again, as we know this smoothes them also. Please see a link to the USGA on topdressing :- http://www.usga.org/course-care/forethegolfer/2017/topdressing-and-quality-putting-greens-go-together-like-peas-and.html
What else have the team been up too?
Well, all the work above including over seeding and composting fairways. If you have seen the last video blog please take a look here:- https://youtu.be/oF475Q6bU5U
Apart from the tree work happening on the practice ground project you may have noticed lot of work taking place around the course and an increase in wood stacks. This has been due to a lot of trees suffering from last years drought and showing real safety concerns. We were lucky enough to have visits from both Mike Wood Senior Arboricultural Consultant and Will Jones (Managing Director)
Some people have asked me what all the turf is down on the banks, this is called clod and its what was stripped off the practice green area before we lifted it as part of the project. This process allows us to get natural grasses to reappear somewhere else. The grasses from the piles facing out will establish quickly, and secure the bank, the rest will over time will breakdown into a nice soil, this will move a little giving a more natural finish and exactly what we have done on a couple of areas during the bunker project including the mounds right of the 2nd hole.
We also got to demo a Wiedenmann Air seeder. This is a new digital way to seed with users being able to change inputs by 0.1 of gram. This is the future of over seeding when overseeding will be one of our best options in the future against disease.
The staff have undertaken two days of staff training this month. Firstly Customer service as the club looks to keep in proving the member relations and secondly First Aid training. Both days were fantastic and will be benfical to the members but let's hope we don't have to use the second one...
The Phase 2 of the practice ground project is well underway and the new yellow and red 1st tees subsoil bases have been created.The pathway down to the new short game area and driving range has also started and safety mounding. The trees down the bottom of 18th have been removed as agreed in planning and the old ditch is being piped to allow the range to move more left and centrally away from the 1st, 4th and 18th. We have the Presentation night for this on the 7th May at 6.30pm. Please come along and find out more about this exciting project.
|New 1st tees and pathway route|
We are also going to carryout are annual Greens Presentation night in June so watch out for information on that.
That's enough from me today I think, Please be patient with us as we wait for mother nature to help us out. The base work we have done will massively benefit once nature catches up and pray for rain (at night)!