Tuesday, 27 October 2009

End of Season Aeration

Once again we have arrived at the time of year when our most intensive period of aeration takes place.
Aeration is one of the most important maintenance tasks carried out on turf. The word aeration means quite simply to get air into something. In turf it is simply the production of holes through the turf surface into the underlying rootzone (soil) to allow gases (oxygen etc.) in and out of the soil and for water and grass roots to move down through the soil.

Starting this week we will be running two verti-drain type machines over all areas of the course. Fairways and high wear walkways will be tackled first. For these areas we use twelve 18mm x 300mm solid tines on each machine(see pic above). This allows us to make lots of holes in the turf and at sufficient depth to enable the movement of water more quickly through the soil beneath. The action of these particular machines also allows a certain amount of "heave" to be put on the soil. This lifts the level of the ground slightly allowing air and moisture to penetrate and relieve compacted areas. Compaction in the turf is caused by the regular movement of people or machinery over an area, wet soils compact more easily as the water in the soil acts as a lubricant allowing the particles to slide closer together and form a bond.

Next week we will start on greens and green surrounds. For these areas we will use a tine which is smaller in diameter but of a similar length. This smaller tine, coupled with some lightweight rolling will allow quicker recovery of the turf in these key areas. We hope to repeat this process in greens and surrounds in February 2010 and in future every October and February.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Course Update

Maintenance Week
The greens have recovered well in the past few weeks from the hollow core aeration work that was carried out in early September. It was obviously rather painful for all players when there were so many holes in the greens, with putts bobbling and bouncing across the surface it was easy to forget just how important a robust aeration programme is to the future performance of the greens. The course team have worked hard to reinstate the surface, a total of 45 tonnes of top dressing was applied to greens in the three weeks following the coring work and this has had the desired effect. This amount represents almost half of the annual total top dressing used on greens, so to apply this in such a short space of time took considerable effort. Whilst the holes were in the greens the opportunity was taken to introduce more grass seed into the greens and it is pleasing to report that this has taken well. The severe disruption to golf this aeration event caused has been noted and as a consequence next year’s maintenance week has been moved to the end of September.

The rain has finally arrived after an extended dry period through August and September. Following comments from a number of members I would like to briefly outline once again our watering strategy for this summer past and for future years.
Whilst we aim to provide evenly moist soils with optimal growing conditions in the spring, early summer and autumn periods our approach changes in mid-summer. In order to impart drought stress on the undesirable broad leaved grass species in the greens, we make a conscious effort to allow the turf to dry out in the peak summer months, thus creating an environment in which the desirable grasses can thrive and gain the upper hand. It is crucial during the summer months that this happens otherwise the broad leaved, undesirable grass species will continue to dominate putting surfaces. It also allows us to present a firm and fast running golf course, just as one would expect from a links course in the middle of a dry summer. You might be surprised to learn that to keep the course as dry as it was actually took quite a bit of water. In the period 1st July to 30th September we used a total of 21,400m3 of water, that’s 21.4 million litres or 4.7 million gallons to water greens, tees, surrounds and fairways!

Broadleaved Grasses In Greens
Ryegrass and Yorkshire Fog grasses are present in many of our greens. These are wholly inappropriate putting green grass types that have proved notoriously difficult to eradicate. Thankfully a new chemical has been released to the amenity market that selectively controls these species, killing them off without harming other plants. We decided to trial this new product on the 4th and 6th greens and on the 4th yellow tee. Spraying took place on the 8th October and we expect to see the grasses start dying off within a few days. We may for a period have some thin areas of turf on these trial plots but the areas will be seeded and top-dressed until good grass cover is restored. If this trial proves successful we will roll out this program over larger areas in the future.

Upcoming Winter Work
The main project planned for this winter is the redesign of the chipping area. We plan to build a large green in the centre of the area to facilitate a range of short chip shots from a number of players simultaneously. To do this we will dig up three of the existing greens, re-shape the ground and then re-lay the existing turf. The green that is located nearest the 18th fairway will be left in its present position but will have another bunker added and the existing bunker enlarged. The chipping area will be closed while this work takes place and will remain closed until all the turf knits together properly.

More trees will be felled as per the ecology plan. White paint distinguishes the specimens due for removal this winter. The invasive Holm Oak will once again be targeted but also some of the Macrocarpa trees in the dunes between holes 11 and 13 will be felled. This policy of tree removal is in line with the States policy for the neighbouring land.

Also this winter we plan to refurbish a number of bunkers around the course and also extend the 5th tee. As usual, solid tine aeration will take place on greens, tees, surrounds and fairways.

Going forward, a monthly update will be published to keep members informed of what is happening as regards the golf course.