Once again, summer has supposedly arrived. You know it’s still cold though, when the greens staff are still wearing their winter coats and lined snowsuits! Spring has been its usual cold, windy self with a few hot days thrown into the mix, but we are now starting to see a continuous amount of growth around the course and are now cutting all areas on a regular basis.
The amount of fescue has been greatly increased on aprons, tees and fairways. Whilst the uptake of fescue on the greens has improved, I would like the rate to increase so that we can have a true and consistent putting surface. This should improve if we have a relatively dry summer. The poa grasses on the greens are seeding at the moment, and produce the small white heads on the surface. The poa grass has been put under stress with the weather conditions and the limited amount of feed that we give the greens and the seeds will disappear shortly.
This is a perennial problem which will disappear entirely when the fescue programme is complete. We are now 3 years into a 5–7 year programme, and we should see improvement year on year. So that the Council can be assured that the fescue programme is on track, we are once again engaging the services of the STRI to examine and report on the state of the course grasses. The last report they produced in 2014 was positive and confirmed that the fescue programme was the correct strategy to employ.
We have begun regular verti cutting and top dressing of the greens and this will continue throughout the year. The tees have been verti-cut once so far this year and will be done again shortly and once more towards the end of the season. The aprons are on a more regular verti-cutting and top dressing regime than the tees to help improve the surface and quality of the grasses. The fairways have been sprayed with iron and wetting agents during April and will have another spray of wetting agents shortly, to help them through our summer weather.
The 1st and 18th fairways are being treated with a more expensive different product provided by a manufacturer free of charge, in return for regular condition reports. There has been a noticeable improvement in the condition of the fairways and hopefully this will continue. All areas of rough are coming along nicely – we have sprayed the rough with a grass herbicide and this has allowed only the finer grasses to grow. The rough is fine and wispy, allowing you to find your ball, but still provides a tough test when trying to extricate your ball! The fairways and semi rough have also been sprayed to reduce daisies and plantains.
The areas where whins have been removed along the sides of the 10th and 15th are slowly starting to recover. Once enough growth has been established in the new grasses, we will tidy those areas which are currently Ground Under Repair, with the ultimate aim of returning those areas to playable parts of the course as soon as possible.
Lastly, I would like to thank all of the members who turned out to help in the divoting exercise earlier in the year. This is much appreciated and helps us focus on those parts of the course which need attention.
Mark Campbell Head Greenkeeper