Well that's two weeks in now and the championship weekend has been and gone. As I sit and write this blog looking out at the cloudy gloomy sky I find myself saying 'what difference a few days make'. Last blog I spent time moaning about excessive temperatures, this week has been a bit more of mixed weather front. You won't hear me complaining as we finally got some much needed rain (not wanted on club championship Sunday I must add) but needed for the course.
So what we been up to this last week?
We started this a very busy week off by giving the greens a little Sarel Roll or 'venting' as the Americans call it. This just helps to open the surface of greens up to allow air into the soil profile. Remember air is the key to life. So anything we can get into the soil profile the better the greens will become and preform in the long term.
Above is a picture of the sarel roller. These units go on to a greens mower meaning it gives a quick and smooth finish. Now, the question I hear you thinking is 'why don't they use this all the time then?'
The answer is we will use this type of aeration a lot especially to help rain get into the profile as well as air from now on but all aeration works need to be at varied depths otherwise we will create layers in the soil profile and the roots of the grass plant will not penetrate these meaning a weaker plant.
Following the sarel rolling we then applied a wetting agent. Wetting agents are used for many different reasons and in many different ways depending on the chemistry. For example we use a wetting agent in the winter which helps water infiltrate through the profile and away from the surface. Another form of wetter is now used in the autumn to coat the leaf and remove the dew in the dewie damp mornings thus reducing the risk of disease. However this application was applied to help retain moisture in the soil profile evenly.
Next the greens were given a light verti cut. Verti cutting does exactly what is says on the tin! The blades on these units
cut vertically helping to remove some of the thatch but also helping to stand up some of grasses that are lying horizontally across the surface. Once these are stood up we then follow behind with the greens mower, leaving the surface much smoother.
Above long strands stood up.
Over the next few years I will increase the Verti cutting and brushing on the greens to try and improve smoothness year on year. I will blog in the future about the pros and cons of these techniques.
Following the Verti cutting and mowing on the greens we then applied a liquid feed. (Another blog in the future will include the difference between liquid feeding, crown feeding and folliar feeding. All have a place and all are different!) The feed included seaweed, nitrogen, iron, humid acids plus micro nutrients.
This little feed was designed to pick the greens up especially the poa grass species that were looking a little bit stressed during this hot humid weather.
We also spent a lot of time strimming and weeding lots on these areas including the ditches and steps. I would like to add, the detail work (strimming and flymoing) that the course requires is very high indeed. We spend large amounts of our labour time of these areas, even though we apply growth regulators to these areas (more on that to come). But once they are completed it really shows off some of the amazing features that Stoneham has to offer.
Once the ditches are strimmed we then line them to mark the hazard, making it easier for the player to make a decision on how they will move on from the hazard.
really put a lot of effort into getting these steps back into shape and I think the difference looks fantastic!
We will need to look at ways to improve and replace some of the steps in the coming months but for now this is the way we be presenting them.
Another area of work which is not only beneficial to the player with regard to ruling options but more importantly the greens is the simple but effective job which the Greenkeeping team carries out at least twice a month is the trimming up of the sprinkler heads.
Again a little detail that make a big difference. Especially to the irrigation coverage to the greens!
The fairways were cut for the first time in two weeks. In the spring cutting rates may go up to three to four times a week and in the winter the rates drop down to as little as once a month. We sometimes reduce the amounts of cuts to areas like fairways, semi and roughs due to the growth rates dropping away in the heat. Reducing the cutting also gives the grass plant a chance to survive longer as it's not under so much pressure. This is another area I want to work on. Increasing aeration, applying composts and a correct nutrition plan will improve these year by year. Making them more drought resistant.
I have one more thing I would like to add about the fairways...The movement is incredible!! I have had the pleasure of cutting fairways and working at some fantastic venues over the years but these are something special. Golf course architects have been trying for years to copy these style fairways all over the world. I would bet not many get them as good as Stonehams!
All other areas of the course were cut as normal. We then started to increase the cuts to the greens as we entered the Championship weekend.
I think that's enough for this blog.You must be getting sick of my ramblings by now :-) I will do another one on the Championship weekend separately before blogging like normal.
See you out on the course!