As I sit here and write this blog, I am looking out at a snow covered golf course. The only signs of life are from the diggers on the practice ground, who are not taking any soil but moving some of the previous loads while the ground is frozen!
The "Beast from the East" has hit us or "Storm Emma"the given name. I prefer the last one as my wife is called Emma and I know that (like anyone in a relationship) that if I upset her I could get a cold shoulder or feel the wrath! That's exactly whats happened here.
|Course set up was harder|
|Clearing around the clubhouse|
I now believe mother nature could be called Emma too. My reason for this is that we spent along time looking at the weather data from the last five years and all this indicated that we were missing the window for course maintenance to maximise recovery. The trend has seen a two week window when growth rates jump up before the end of March (this was when we would normally do Maintenance week).
For the last two years I have been unhappy with the struggle to get the greens back to there best for May. We have struggled and applied extra fertilisers to push it on. Another issue has been seeing our greens full of sand during The Masters, this is time when a lot of golf gets played and I want people to enjoy it. Now I know that conditions are not going to be the same in April here as they are in Georgia but at least playing on nice greens would be welcome.
Just for your information, apart from the obvious millions in pounds difference in budgets and our nine greenstaff v they hundreds of greenstaff for the competition. The other advantage they have is the weather.
We all see pictures of Augusta under snow in January and then looking amazing in April. Well they have a rapid growth from January to April. So much so they are normally eight weeks ahead of us in the UK by April. So they are in our GDD (growth degree days) terms they are in June. Below is a slide that I have stolen from Mark Hunt (an agronomist and weather expert) from a talk I attended which shows this.
Mark explained that we were experiencing a Sudden Stratospheric Warming event, which is not uncommon at this time of year but last time it happened like this was 2013 but its effects on our weather can be profound and prolonged.
The occurrence of an SSW can fundamentally disrupt the flow of the jet stream to a point where it stops and even flows back in the opposite direction to its normal west – east flow. This then allows cold air to flow in from the Arctic east / Siberia and we have a prolonged period of cold until it kick starts again. Now the other point that should be said is that there’s no real way of predicting what’s going to happen beyond the 5-day mark forecasting-wise because an SSW doesn’t always result in prolonged cold weather but all the indications are in my view that it will do.
As far as our greens maintenance week, it went fantastic the guys done an amazing job and got all the greens completed. We used 19mm tines to a depth of 9 inches (sorry to use different measurements but its easier) topdressed, added seaweed then brushed it in. We then followed this with a 9mm micro hollow core, cleared this and topdressed and brushed in again. So the work has been completed and will now sit there until we get the warmth.
The one thing I have learnt is that no matter how much planning and research you do, mother nature always throws you a curve ball. If we had done this greens maintenance week on the same day last year we would have seen recovery in 14 days, now i think we are looking at 31 days the same as the March aeration. The bonus (hopefully...) I still have hope for the Masters recovery!
My last thought
"If you always do what you've always done, you will always get what you've always got!"
See you soon