Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Course

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Links Golf Since 1793

 

Greens Blog

Mid summer report

8th July 2021

Firstly glad to see that our wild flower display at the back of the 1st tee has matured nicely. This area was a bit of a mess last year after the porto cabins left after the building project. Shingly material was dispersed throughout and any weeds treated thereafter. A 1kg mix of 25 different species containing 40% Annuals, 5% Biennials and 55% Perennials was then sewn out over a sand layer in October last year and then rolled in. It looks like mainly Wild Poppys have come up but other plants such as Yarrow, Columbine, Borage, Harebell, Cornflower, Vipers Bugloss, Wild Candytuft and Forget-me Knot are included so there should be a show of colours to keep the bees happy for a while yet. (Euroflor Britannica mix)

The course. As with many golf courses the weather plays a big part in how the course looks and plays. This spring and early summer has been quite difficult for us in that April was one of the coldest and driest months on record followed by a cold and wet May. June has given us some warmer temperatures, very dry and with persistent Northerly winds. This has dried up the course dramatically and has looking very linksy for the past month now. The greens have been a little slower to fill out this year as a result but are running truer and quicker now since the spring feed has tailed off and seeding has abated. Verti-cutting to refine and sand dressings to improve levels and firm up have each been carried out four times each this season so far. Height of cut is at 3.9mm just now and will be lowered a little more in the lead up to the Black Isle Open and beyond. The greens were becoming a little hydrophobic at times with the wind and sun as we were delayed in getting our third wetting agent application on. This was sprayed on on Monday this week taking advantage of some overdue showery weather. With the recent dry weather cutting has eased off a bit on the fairways and are only being cut as necessary to avoid any unnecessary additional stress. We have been relentlessly patching and tidying the fairways each week this year with the high level of play and birds turning over divots in search of Leatherjackets. Warne, our new summer labourer has helped greatly along with our staff in keeping the place neat and tidy. We intend not to broadcast spray the fairways for weeds again this year and just to spot treat with the knapsack over the next few weeks. Mainly isolated plantains to deal with here and there. The greens surrounds were blanket sprayed back in early June treating mainly plantains, daisies and bits of clover.

Our tees are looking reasonable although a little stressed and hard recently. They have been getting a little irrigation to keep some growth going and today were given a slow release granular feed of  ProloNg 16.2.10 which has worked well in the past. They also have been weed treated  and received a wetting agent application this week to help maintain moisture levels in dry weather.

Other little jobs we have been doing are treating the bunker tops and bits of aprons with a graminicide to clean out little Rye and Yorkshire Fog clumps.

So we have it pretty linksy early on this summer but could do with a few days of decent rain to re hydrate our soils and perk the grass up a bit. The tall roughs are maturing and playing tricky should you go into it and normally we would cut and collect an intermediate rough shortly which we intend to do.

Enjoy your golf!

George Paterson

Head Greenkeeper

 

 

 

Spring 2021

March 19th

That’s us back onto the summer course with preferred lies on the fairways back in operation. Thank you to the members who have used their mats throughout the winter months which has helped reduce the level of damage to the semi roughs. The level of play the course has received this winter has been quite exceptional apart from the week of rest in early February from the snow fall and it was great to see all the kids out enjoying some sledging at the 17th.

Minus temperatures since the start of January up until Mid February and this combined with staff furloughs meant some of our bunker repair work didn’t get completed. The ones we have revetted are back in play now. We have cut some more whin bushes down at the 13th and taken them away at the right of the 18th green which has been seeded this week. GUR for a while here.

Work on the greens has seen an application of Iron and magnesium followed by a double verti-cut to remove some moss which is quite prevalent this year. An initial sanding and pencil tine to 6″ deep was done early March and another sand dressing and a spring fertiliser will go on next week. Just for comparison we have only cut the greens four times this year with very little grass coming off  compared to five times last January alone. We are still cutting at 5.5mm and this will come down slowly as sand is incorporated and any holes and imperfections fill in.

The summer tees have been scarified to 1″ deep and heavily sanded which is aimed at reducing some of the softer growth, invigorating some new growth and firming the surfaces up. An Iron and Ammonia spray has gone on last week and a granular feed and wetting agent is planned next.

Our fairways have also been sprayed with Iron and Ammonia to deter the moss and stimulate a little spring growth and boost colour. We have sanded the approaches and  green surrounds to aid a little recovery from footfall. I would like to do most of the fairways but cost is a limiting factor with a 20 tonne load of sand costing £600!  Leatherjackets are going to be a big concern this year not just from birds overturning divots but the effect the grubs have on the grass plants root system. A nibbled and shortened root will die much quicker under stress from heat or dry weather and last years Autumn plague on the fairways is a very bad sign. We have a wetting agent ready to go on when the next spell of soft weather comes along. This will help water be drawn through the turf and bind onto soil particles which in turn enables the soil to re hydrate during times of rainfall.

  The range got its first cut this week and is looking great. The downside is that it took almost 2 hours to rake up all the divots and collect golf balls before it could get cut. This is time we can ill afford with a small team of four greenstaff. It would help us greatly if the mats provided could be used or if hitting from the grass then a couple of minutes spent replacing your divots after would be greatly appreciated. Can I remind also that no iron play from behind the main mat and please do not leave divots sprayed over any of the small greens on the range. Thank you.

Our long roughs have been cut and collected last week and this helps reduce the nutrient going back into the soil which favours ranker grass such as Yorkshire Fog and Rye grass. We annually spray with a herbicide now which will selectively treat these courser grasses with a view to encouraging the finer Bents and Fescues. When the  longer roughs mature into full seed it is such a lovely sight (and hazard!) although could we ask any buggy users to draw up alongside and walk into the rough to find their ball.

With the season about to stutter to a start and having no bunker rakes out yet it would be nice for everyone who goes into a bunker to smooth the sand over with the sole of your shoe. Remembering a lift and place within 6″ is still in place until rakes are returned for use.

Volunteer work – if any of our members who have some spare time would like to give the course a hand it would be greatly appreciated. We have a list of jobs from divot collecting and filling, litter picking and various painting jobs. Contact myself or Mike for info. Following on from last years successful members divotting evenings we would like to do this again and dates will follow. Thank you to all who give up their time.

George Paterson – Head Greenkeeper

07808 202050 or (sheds) 01381 622323

Winter work progress December 2020

December 18th 

Winter this year has yet to arrive with only a couple of very light surface frosts to date. Will it bite us in the new year? as seems to be the case in recent years, we’ll have to wait and see! Sept/Oct/Nov rainfall readings were 50mm, 120mm and 41mm and 82mm for December so far. October was dreadfully wet and the biblical rain a couple of weekends ago rendered the course unplayable. It would be nice to get some settled and clear weather, good winter golfing weather through the holiday period, fingers crossed.

The golfing season this year extended into November and we had a wee break to get the greens verti-drained and rolled during late October. This deep aeration helps the greens drain and develop strong roots which in turn favour the better grasses. A follow up deep slit was completed lately which is an alternative form of aeration which also root prunes through the tines slicing action.   Micro hollow tining is planned for around mid February. Fairways and greens surrounds have also been slit with some fairways receiving a sanding also. In November we sprayed Iron to all areas apart from the longer roughs in our combat against moss and this will be done again in the spring along with some Ammonia (Nitrogen) and wetting agent.

Bunker work is ongoing and four have been completely revetted so far this winter. Up turned turf is used in the bases to both provide a firm base and also to keep stones from coming through. These will be topped up with sand around early March and brought into play for the first competitions. Proposal – The twin bunkers on the 15th fairway have been earmarked for a redesign into one large bunker. Back in the early 90s this was to be the case but while digging out the bunker we came across the irrigation pipe and had to split the bunker into two. The new irrigation line now runs past the right hand side of the bunkers therefore allowing these bunkers to be improved and made into something more aesthetically pleasing.

4th hole sand scrape.

The large obtrusive section of gorse has been removed to open up the fairway view from the tee. The natural sand base has been exposed to create an in play sand scrape and this will both help speed up play and allow you to see where your ball goes.

Gorse removal.

We have cut back the bushes behind the two bunkers right side of the 18th fairway. Intention here is to remove the stumps and return to a grassy bank as this hole is penal enough without more trouble around the green. Last winters planned removal of sections of gorse along the ridge between the 3rd and 13th holes did not happen but we will hope to get this done over the next couple of months when some frostier weather appears?

Enjoy your winter golf and keep those winter fairway mats and pitch forks to good use. Thank you.

George Paterson

Head Greenkeeper

Summer course report 2020

7th July 2020

That’s us back into our first week of competitions and typically the weather has turned a bit sour of late, as it usually does after an early summer. Rainfall recorded in may was 21mm followed by 102mm in June, which was very welcome for the course in general after the very dry and warm April.

The greens are coming on now and seem to be performing better after all the heavy rain. We also top dressed on six occasions through early spring/summer in order to help fill in the Leatherjacket damage and are pretty much hole free at the minute. The Meadow grass seed heads are abating and our cutting height has remained a little higher at 4mm which in turn reduces any unnecessary stress.   

Our cutting units are razor sharp after a re grind recently and this improves ball roll through the grass leaf not getting torn when cut. Also a clean cut is healthier for the grass as less infection and disease take hold.

Fairy rings

Some fairy ring activity (basidiomycetes fungi) has flared up on certain greens particularly the 4th and 7th for some reason. I can’t explain why some greens get this and not others as all the greens are treated in the same way. Historically I remember treating rings on the 7th green back in the early 90s’ as it was the worst green back then too! There used to be a chemical, long withdrawn  (oxycarboxin) and like everything else that was effective they took it away?? but this got rid of them pretty quickly. These rings always look worse when the turf is lean because there is no colour to disguise them but they are superficial and don’t really hinder the ball roll. We have one more Revolution wetting agent to go on shortly which will help condition the soil and I may have to fire up the old compost tea maker soon to add some beneficial microbes and fight the fairy ring fungi.

Roughs 

During lockdown we were a little limited in how much rough we could cut and concentrated on keeping the semis in check. We managed to get an intermediate cut done and have kept on top of this recently. The tall natural roughs are quite long and got no early golfer trampling with the closure and are certainly a challenge now if you go in them. We’ll need some dry weather again to cut and collect a bit more of the tall roughs here and there.

George Paterson

 

Lockdown course report May 2020

4th May 2020

That’s us into our 6th week of lockdown and typically the weather has been fantastic for golf! We have been quite lucky to carry on with our work on the course with 2 to 3 staff  working individually, keeping on top of essential maintenance and so far we will be ready when golf resumes. Jobs are being completed quicker with no golfers about and many hours saved on not having to collect range balls, rake bunkers and change holes etc.

So what have we being doing?

This spring has brought many sunny and dry days with very little rain which in turn has kept growth to a minimum. Therefore we’ve been cutting greens 2 to 3 times per week and a little higher than normal, tees and aprons once per week and the fairways, range and semi roughs on a fortnightly cycle. We’ve also kept on top of banks cutting otherwise things would have got out of hand. Early into the lockdown we sprayed the fairways with wetting agent, ammonia and iron to give them a wee perk up. With the course being quiet we’ve also managed to treat the weeds on the fairways and range and got our usual wetting agents on greens and tees.

One problem that is causing concern is aeration holes not filling in due to Leatherjackets feeding on the grass roots over winter. The insecticide for treating these grubs was withdrawn from our use 3 years ago now and is becoming a problem for many courses now. I’ve been using the water system to the greens on a fairly regular basis throughout April as the rainfall was so low (8mm) in an attempt to top up the deficit on an average April month. The greens can dry out here very quickly in the spring and with grub activity can go backwards quite quickly. Subsequently we have taken the chance to seed and spike 10 of the worst hit greens and top dressed over a couple of times. With the grubs popping out of the turf now hopefully most of the damage has been done and once growth starts to pick up then the greens will establish full cover. 

We’re all looking forward to getting back onto the course and I expect it won’t be too long now and I see no reason why not. Ireland have set a date of May 18th. It looks like there will be measures in place similar to lockdown and that will include social distancing, no touching flag pins etc. The so called experts will no doubt keep us well informed!

George Paterson

Head Greenkeeper

 

Winter work progress December 2019′

The autumn seemed to pass very quickly with October noticeably colder than recent years. We have had some frosty spells and also a fair bit of rain to contend with but the beauty of greenkeeping is there is always something to do.

New Proshop/office

The greenstaff have been busy with the putting green and 1st tee alterations  and there is more to do with sleeper edging and path work once the new building progresses.

Greens

Following the scarify in late September the greens were then deep slit after the season finish. A preventative fungicide was applied and also an Autumn feed of TX10 (5.2.8) to keep the grass plant as healthy as possible leading into the colder months. Recently we have verti-drained with larger 3/4″ tines down to 11″ deep and this will benefit the greens longer term by helping drainage and promoting new and longer root growth for healthier turf. A micro-core and seaweed meal dressing is planned next weather permitting. This is to help alleviate some troublesome Anthracnose disease (yellowing of the plant) and also Superficial Fairy ring.The tees have also been verti-drained and next to do will be the approaches.

Fairways

All the fairways have been sprayed with Iron and also slit tined to relieve a little compaction, aid water movement and promote healthier turf. The majority of fairways have recovered well after the drought last year and will continue to improve with some more selective sanding, wetting agent and soluble fertilizer sprays.

Bunker repairs

Both greenside bunkers at the 7th have been newly revetted and the front greenside at the 11th is underway. We have highlighted around 9 greenside bunkers to do this year and will be GUR until around mid March.

Whin management

To date we have topped the whins along the roadsides at the 10th and 15th holes for safety reasons. We plan to do the rest of the roadside holes when any frosty weather returns. The whin stand at the back of the 3rd green has also been topped to allow a better view up the right hand side of the fairway. Our big project early next year is to cut down the whins on the right side of 13th fairway allowing for a much less intimidating drive for the shorter hitters.

George Paterson

Head Greenkeeper

Autumn course report 2019

Course report  Sept 23rd 2019 

It’s been a difficult summer greenkeeping wise due to the high level of growth on all areas of the course and practice area. Routinely we cut things such as tee and bunker banks, semi-roughs, range etc on a fortnightly cycle but this year has seen us struggle to keep up on these jobs as everything is needing done more often and more grass equals more time to do each job. The range has been particularly difficult to keep on top of (with a weekly cut) resulting in a lot of smaller jobs just not getting done.

Rainfall in August measured 106mm and that is approx. 3 x more than a normal summer month. Nonetheless the greens have performed very well and the fairways continue to improve with the wet weather.

Greens

Little work on the greens this summer apart from cutting and occasional rolling. Two wetter/seaweed/potassium carbonate sprays with a little Nitrogen have gone on June and July just to tick things along. A verti-cut last week and another seaweed/calcium/iron spray to try and dry up a little Fusarium marking here and there. The top putting green was hollow tined and Graden scarified (Mon 16th Sept) with some bent grass seed introduced. Recovery has been pretty quick due to the weather of late. This week we will be solid spiking and following up with the scarifier/seed (bent seed at 5g/m2) and top dressing. A wet start today slowed things down but 12 greens spiked and 5 greens scarified/seeded. Rolling to re-enstate surfaces and keeping an eye on moisture levels for recovery and enhancing seed germination.

Going into the autumn I would like to carry out some slitting then late autumn (late Nov) the greens will need another hollow tine with 6mm tines and also a deep verti-drain with larger 3/4” tines during December. All this work will enhance drainage and surface firmness, promote deeper root growth and help combat fairy ring. In turn they will become more resilient for next year.

Roughs

Majority of tall roughs cut and collected and will be sprayed with Laser to reduce course grasses within. 

Semis

All semi roughs were sprayed with herbicide to treat Plantains and clover

Tees

Some tees have been spiked/sanded and seeded

Pro shop/office work – site prep work (Oct 14th)

  1. The area of the yellow/red tee where the putting green is to be extended needs stripping back first + RHS of this tee. (Approx 6-7m)
  2. Re locate RHS tee sprinkler.
  3. Strip turf in front of Medal tee approx 6-8m and lay aside.
  4. PG extension area then needs to be excavated and contoured to desired putting green level with sand amended through the soil. De stone. (require mini digger)
  5. Stock pile soil front medal tee.
  6. Lift turf from car park end of putting green and re lay onto new extension. Lay apron turf as required and excess turf below 1st hole whin carry.
  7. Enlarge and raise medal tee and re turf

Removal of the dust path to the left of the yellow tee at 6th and some of the turf lifted from the putting green side could be used here.

 

 

Summer course report 2019

Course notes 29th July 19’

Periods of heavy growth this summer with 82mm of rain this month and plenty of warm days thrown in. Therefore it has been difficult to keep up with high level of grass growth and in turn taking longer to complete each task. Normally going into July/Aug growth has slowed down as soils become drier but not so this year! Staff are beginning to take there summer holiday week off and this further puts pressure on us to get jobs done. The weather has benefited the partial recovery of the fairways but also brings with it turf disorders (fusarium/fairy ring/nematode) markings and plenty of nuisance mushrooms popping up everywhere.

Greens –

The greens have performed well this summer being reasonably firm (not too many pitch marks) very true and decent speed. Automatic irrigation has only been applied on 4 nights since the early May installation so this highlights the amount of rain that has fallen this year. They have had a couple of liquid seaweed sprays with very little nutrient and have been ticking along nicely. A verti-cut was given last week which has cleaned up some surface debris accumulation and the height of cut has remained constant at 3.9mm which combined with some rolling is providing good surfaces to putt on. Comparing our greens with Lahinch, Portrush, Renaissance and Lytham we are definitely leaner and equally as fast it would seem. Heading into autumn maintenance week (mid Sept) I would like to Graden scarify the greens and introduce some bent grass seed. This will create a bit of mess while doing the work with plenty of debris to scrape up but after a couple of cuts should get back close to normal.

Some Fairy ring disorder is re appearing therefore a cluster hollow tine will be required early winter plus a 3/4” tine with verti-drain rather than early Spring in order for getting into shape sooner next year.

Aprons and approaches

As with the greens performing well and getting cut twice weekly but could do with three cuts (all time consuming)

Tees

Lots of grass on the tees following the summer feed which went on a bit later this year. Two cuts per week (could do with three) and we are only just keeping on top of them but generally looking healthy with no real problems.

Fairways

Throughout May and June the fairways were getting a fortnightly cut and since start of July it has been each week (twice before BI Open) therefore much more manpower for this compared to last year. Lots of thin areas from last year have now filled in with Meadow grass and divoting mix grasses and are slowly recovering. The rain this year has certainly helped. Ideally late Autumn, recovery would be enhanced following a hollow core and drag and clean up with the Super 500 flail/collector machine. This would be a very labour intensive job taking probably a couple of days to complete one fairway therefore we could try the 2nd,3rd and 4th and see how we go from there. The 1st fairway is too stoney to hollow tine although the diamond spiker may help it.

Rough

The tall roughs will be cut and collected later part of August

New Irrigation

TIS Irrigation contractors finished the installation on 7th May. The work was carried out diligently with very little disruption around the greens and tees. A 90mm MDPE ring main was installed generally in the rough and 63mm spurs led to the valve boxes. From here 50mm pipe was fed to each sprinkler along with the new cabling.

We opted to go for Rainbird 751 electric valve in head sprinklers around the greens which gives us individual control of each sprinkler. This can be programmed from the controller in the maintenance shed office and each sprinkler set to a set time depending on its required coverage. We can now apply water to the aprons and approaches with some simple arc setting and adjusting watering times to suit. Another plus with these sprinklers are that they can have a fan tail nozzle fitted which will cast out a fine spray to the rear of the sprinkler and stop these bits from drying up.

On our tees we re-utilized the sprinklers that were on our greens along with other tees sprinklers that were still in good condition. These have been set in to the sides of the tees and some further outwith so as to provide optimum tee watering coverage and also heavily trafficed routes nearby.

New pump and variable speed motor

The installation included a new galvanized water tank and a variable speed pump which will keep the system pressurized and only work when demand is required, thus saving electricity. We erected a new and slightly bigger shed for the pump house.

 

 

Spring work 2019

New 17th bunkers

Two new bunkers to the left side rough have replaced the original bunkers with the view to giving a wider and bigger landing area to the majority of golfers.  We have cut the whins back on the right side bank and once removed and returned to grass will offer a much less intimidating direct line tee shot.

We are in the process of re painting the viewing steps at the 17th tee with a sign asking playing partners to observe the top fairways are clear before safely teeing off.

Greens work

The greens were 3/8″ hollow cored at the end of February to remove some organic matter in the top 40mm. This was followed up with a slender 6mm pencil tine down to 7″. Hopefully this will alleviate the unsightly superficial fairy ring disorder which is prevalent on some greens. Subsequently we have sand dressed the greens 3 times and added a Calcium and magnesium prill and lately a Spring feed to help kick start some growth. 

We still have the first ‘Revolution’ wetting agent of the year to go on which will help with soil moisture retention in the rootzone.

 

Leatherjackets

 A sure sign of aeration holes not filling in is due to the presence of Leatherjacket grubs eating away at the roots of the grass plant. Unfortunately there is no chemical control for these grubs any longer and it is going to become a problem for many courses especially in the Spring time when we are trying to promote surface levels on the greens.

New irrigation update

TIS irrigation installers arrived late January to some snowy weather and then a glorious February allowed work to progress at good pace.  All 90mm MDPE ring main pipe and 63mm going to the greens and tees were vibratory mole ploughed into the ground to 600mm deep. The soil underneath is very stoney to say the least and several sections of the old original 1″ steel irrigation line got unearthed. During March all the 50mm pipe and Valve in head sprinklers were installed around the greens and positioned a little further out so that the aprons can receive irrigation also. Recently the tees sprinklers have been going in and all our old greens sprinklers have been re used to save some money. These are being set in down either side of the tees to allow accurate watering of the tees themselves and also taking account of heavily walked areas by the tees. At this date there are still 5 tees and the lower putting green to complete, the new tank to erect and a new variable speed pump to go into the pumphouse. All going well once electrical and softwear work is tested, the pipe lines and sprinklers flushed and primed we are looking at around a mid April completion.