Monday, 31 May 2010

Tournament Preparation

I had intended to write this post a few days ago but things on the course have been rather hectic recently. Yesterday the final of the Jersey Amateur Championships was played on the course with La Moye member Stephen Purdie emerging victorious, congratulations to him.
Work on the course for the event was focused on course presentation and putting green conditioning. To present the course in the best possible way we increase the frequency of cutting key areas such as greens, surrounds, tees and fairways. Greens would be cut once each day under normal circumstances but for tournaments this is increased to at least two cuts per day. Likewise fairways, tees and surrounds are cut either every day or every other day during a tournament instead of twice each week normally. Other areas such as bunker faces, tee banks, rough and semi-rough are cut just before a tournament begins to ensure they look in the best possible shape.
Greens obviously receive the most attention though. Not only do we increase mowing frequency but we also roll the putting surfaces straight after mowing. In a normal week we will miss out mowing on the days we roll to give the turf a rest and help reduce stress but for short periods we increase turf stress to produce a superior playing surfaces. Whilst daily double cutting and rolling of greens is great way to improve surfaces in the short term it would be very damaging if carried out for an extended period. Turf density and ultimately putting green performance would decrease rapidly if this practice was carried out for too long a period. In fact, even short periods of increased activity on the greens require specific aftercare once a tournament is over. It is common to see solid tine aeration take place on greens straight after or within a few days of a tournament ending. This helps reduce stress in the green by fast tracking air and water into the rootzone. I can see the despair on some members faces when they arrive at the course finally able to tee it up following a tournament to find that the greenstaff have punched a load of holes in the greens. Please understand that this is only done to ensure the on-going health of the green in the long term.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Course Etiquette

Following the recent rain the greens have become slightly softer so it is probably a good time to remind everyone to be extra vigilant in the repair of their pitchmarks. A pitchmark that is repaired correctly within 10 minutes of it being made will heal completely in only a day or so but an unrepaired pitchmark will take weeks to heal properly. We all love to putt on smooth, true greens so we should all do our bit to ensure they stay that way.

 click on the image to enlarge
On the subject of etiquette, I have noticed evidence of players practicing on the course. Clusters of unrepaired divots on the fairways were spotted this morning. I consider this to be the actions of a selfish individual, if every player hit five or six shots from the same spot on the fairway then there would be very little grass left to play on. I imagine it may be the same kind of individual who "forgets" to repair their five or six pitchmarks on the greens also! If you see anyone abusing the course please ask them to stop or report them to myself or the course ranger. Don't be afraid to gently remind your playing partners to repair their pitchmarks and replace their divots and maybe while their lining up their putt you could repair an extra ball mark or two aswell. If only a slim majority of the membership do this then the problem will disappear.

Singin In The Rain!

Rain at last! Following a period of 50 days with virtually no rain and some daytime temperatures in excess of 80 degrees the heavens finally opened yesterday with almost an inch of the wet stuff falling in the space of 12 hours. With more rain forecast for the weekend it looks like the difficult recent weather is finally changing.
The few parts of the course that the irrigation system does not cover and all the areas turfed in the winter were in dire need of a drink not to mention the restored dune areas where the trees were removed and the section on the seventh hole where the gorse was cut back.
Hand watering was consuming far too much of our time, especially at this critical time of the year from a greenkeeping perspective. The course has had to endure one of the harshest winters in recent memory, the last thing we needed was a slow spring coupled with the freakish drought.
This week and next are two of the most important in our golfing calendar with the Island Amateur Championships this weekend being followed by the European Seniors Tour next week. Tomorrow I will write a post on the preparations for these two events.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Top Dressing Greens

Today we spent the morning top dressing greens. This task is carried out routinely to help smooth the putting surface and to promote healthy turf. On this occasion we applied 20 tonnes of material to the greens using our spinning disc top dresser.

This was followed by a pass with a rubber dragmat to work the material into the base of the sward. Prior to top dressing we brushed the greens with rotating brushes to lightly remove organic matter and also cut the greens at 4.5mm.

The brushes used on the greens today

Monday, 10 May 2010

Still Dry

A grand total of 1.5mm or 0.059 of an inch of rain has fallen on the golf course since the first week in April. In the past week evapotranspiration levels have been in excess of 4mm per day leaving us with a large deficit which we fill with irrigation water.

 A screen shot of the weather station data. Note the two right hand columns for rainfall and ET. Click image to expand.
Just over 450000 litres of irrigation water was applied last night alone to try to replace the lost moisture. Of course there are areas on the course not covered by the irrigation system, these include some tee banks, walkways and roughs. These areas are suffering badly having not had proper growing conditions since spring 2009. Course staff are working hard to hand water areas which were turfed in the winter and also parts of the course which were seeded in the early spring but it is proving very difficult to keep up. The marram plugs on the 11th hole are struggling due to the weather conditions also. Again, hand watering is taking place but rain is desperately needed.