Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Taking the rough with the smooth

A little tounge in cheek title to this latest blog you may have noticed! It's funny I knew I would have to use this title especially as it reflects the situation out on the course at present. 
Interestingly when I looked up the meaning of 'take the rough with the smooth' before publishing this blog I found the British meaning was 
to accept the unpleasant parts of a situation as well as the pleasant parts
which I think pretty much somes golf up especially with our wild roughs as they are at the moment. 

The golf course is playing well at the moment, the greens performance is good with lots and lots of comments about the trueness and smoothness of them. 
The one question I am being asked is about the rough. 
We as a club have a fantastic site with lots of natural features including the roughs and heathers. These areas help to shape the golf course, give it definition, improve strategy and offer that risk and reward shot.

They are also wonderful areas for ecology and act as nature corridors across the course. Some say it even helps Ian Young sell golf balls :-)
Also reducing the amount of rough we need to cut also saves time and money for both labour and machinery running costs. The time can be used to Roll greens with the turf iron for example.

Why is the rough so long ?

This year as I have talked about in previous blogs has seen a sudden flush of growth combined witha very wet period for the time of year. This massive flush of growth has seen the rough increase in height and thickness  dramatically. The rain has seen them green up and become a bit lush. I think the look of the long roughs is fantastic, hard to play from granted but this is not normal for this time of year.

 June 2016 following the wet and strong growth (above).    June 2015 (below)
Normally by June the course is starting to burn off and the Roughs have thinned down (see above), so this is not a normal issue. 

So what have we been doing to the Eco Roughs? 

Well, actually quite a lot. 
We have been working on the long roughs for around a year now as mentioned in prevoius blogs. 

Above you can see the coarser grass species dying off following the chemical application.

One of our main reasons for leaving areas of the rough longer is to encourage the Heather to regenerate and develop. We have been spraying the thicker grasses off with a chemical that only harms certain grass species. This leaving the fine fescues and newly sprouting Heather below. We have applied this twice now and will be carried out annually so they will improve year on year. 

We have also been cutting and collect areas down with two different types of machine. A flail head (Super 600) which we demoed and a Grillo (borrowed from Parkstone, so thank you to them for helping us out). 

Super 600

The Grillo (as featured in previous blogs).

Why, cut and collect? 

The reason we do this is to not put the loose grass clippings back into the area just cut as this would (apart from looking awful and making it impossible to find a ball) eventually break down and add nutrient to the area. This would then make the grasses thicker and promote the wrong grass species (Rye grass or Purple Moor grass). 

We have been making some minor changes to carrys using our normal rough mower (see below) to try and aid those who can't make that distance. The trouble with this method is :-
1) It leaves a lot of mess that takes a large amount of time to clear by hand following the cut. 
2) The height of cut is 75mm which is fine for carrys as this allows the player to find there ball but it would kill all the Heather and good grass species on the course and would leave no definition to the holes of we done this method throughout the course. Not to mention the negative impact it would have on the ecology of the course.

Our long term goal

Our long term goal is NOT to have rough that is so thick you can't find your ball or you find very hard to play from ( tough rough as pictured above at Oakmont for the US Open this year).

Over the next few years we really are going to work on these areas even more. Our goal is :-
•To have a fine grade of rough, which is long and wispy. 
•Players will be able to find there ball but still have to play a fair shot out. 
•To encourage the Heather to develop like in our past to shape our holes and add character to the holes
•To purchase the correct machinery to allow us to maintain the roughs better through cutting and collecting, Scarifing and the reduction of the coarse grasses. 

I hope this blog has helped to explain some of the issues we have faced this year but also some of the work going into improving and developing our roughs over time along with our aims and goals. The added value the Eco roughs give to the course ecology as well as the strategy of the course is something we must work on. 
Believe me the look is nearly what we want but a thinner , better version (I am sure I have heard that saying about me before). 

Please be patient with us as we will be carrying more work in the coming weeks. 

Play well, especially now the summer has arrived and aim straight! 


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