Written by our Course Manager, Craig Paterson:
It has been a challenging start to the season in terms of producing growth that will bring together the playing surface and help aid recovery from play.
Relatively mild day temperatures, with periods of sunshine coupled with low night- time temperatures have put the grass plant under stress, even more so with the long periods of dry weather that we have been having. The lack of regular rainfall has resulted in the greens being a little further back in terms of where I would like them to be in mid-May. We do have the option to use our irrigation system to give the plant some of the water that it requires but we must be very careful as the irrigation water after a long winter is very cold, this can be counterproductive and lower the soil temperatures at a time when we require them to rise. It was vitally important that we remained patient over the last few weeks as forcing the issue could cause major problems in the long term.
The weather forecast for the rest of May looks much more encouraging with plenty of moisture around and suitable overnight temperatures, this combination should simulate growth and aid in the recovery of the playing surfaces and heavily worn areas.
We have recently installed small “please repair pitch mark” flags on the pins of the Keir course, the location of the flag on the pin represents the location of the hole on the green, if the small flag is at the top of the pin then the hole is at the back of the green, flag in the middle of pin then hole in middle of green and flag at the bottom of the pin then hole located at the front of the green.
Please do not move the flags.
We have begun the process of thinning out the sward by verti-cutting the greens, this will remove the excess grass that we built up throughout the winter and spring months. Each course will be verticut every two weeks until we are satisfied with the playing surfaces.
We are well underway with our greens nutrition program, but due to the cold, dry conditions we
have had to hold back some of the planned nitrogen inputs resulting in the greens being a little behind schedule in terms of playability. As the conditions improve, we will move to our full nutrition program for the year.
We are currently mowing the greens at 4mm and have begun regular rolling, these combined and along with the verti-cutting will help achieve a smooth, true, consistent putting surface. The target is to be cutting at 3.5mm by the end of May with an interim reduction between now and then.
Our spring fertility programme will be applied to the tees as soon as the prevailing conditions are ideal and I expect that we are only a few days away from this point. Shortly after we apply nutrients, a significant improvement will be noticeable. Due to the cold soil temperatures the seed that we have been divoting with has been slow to germinate but as the temperature rises and successful seeding can take place there will be a vast improvement on the quality of the tees.
Despite ongoing maintenance and our team taking great care of our fleet, we have suffered from regular breakdowns in the early season period. Currently, our main rough mower is away for extensive repairs and one of our tees and approaches mowers is still awaiting parts to allow it to get back on the course, the knock-on effect is that our other machines are put under more pressure and use than they should be.
We are speaking with our current and other machinery suppliers to try and improve the situation. Our two greens mowers are working well and are due their early season regrind very shortly meaning that they will be in peak condition for the height of the season.
Over the last month we have replaced four broken/damaged pop-up sprinklers with brand new Toro pop-ups, with two more new ones to be installed in the coming weeks. These new heads will greatly improve the capabilities of our irrigation practices.