August Golf Diary 2012

Laurence Gale MScin Golf

At last we have had some decent weather to promote some consistent grass growth and be able to mow in dry conditions, thereby allowing better presentation of the course. After all the recent wet weather, there may be a need to fertilise greens, tees and fairways to replace any leached nutrients.

Also, the recent wet weather may have exacerbated some outbreaks of Red thread disease which shows itself when the turf is under nourished. Red thread has been seen on most grass sports surfaces. Conditions have been ideal for this disease. Grass plants are under stress, favourable temperatures for incubation, overcast and so much moisture in the ground enables the disease to spread quickly.A timely application of summer fertiliser to replace any leached out nutrient should eradicate the disease.

The warm moist conditions may have also increased the incidence of other fine turf diseases, such as Fusarium. If disease outbreaks are severe, then treatment is likely to be necessary. Choice of a curative or eradicant fungicide, preferably with a systemic action, is most suitable. Protectant types can take time to work and seem less effective on aggressive disease strains.

This must be a last resort, as the costs of annual applications of fungicides to large areas are very high and may eventually lead to pathogen resistance.

Control should be a mixture of good sward management, good observation and use of cultural controls. Occasionally, the bottle (or box) needs to be reached for to keep sanity and the sward alive.

Your maintenance regime will continue in much the same vein as last month's - grass cutting, grooming, brushing, aerating, feeding and watering, along with the ongoing bunker raking, hole changing and getting the course to look its best for competitions and society golfing days.

Maintain the greens at their summer height (3mm to 6mm). Other tasks that complement this work involve the use of grooming and verticutting units to remove unwanted thatch and side shoot growths. The frequency of grooming is fortnightly and verticutting monthly.

Brushing/Sweeping:- Greens and Tees. Prior to mowing, the surface should be thoroughly brushed. Continue to brush greens and tees daily to remove moisture from the grass surface, stopping the spread of disease and facilitating an improved quality of cut on the dry grass.

Key Tasks for August
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Aeration:- Aeration practices are generally restricted to greens only, as the other areas are often too dry to get adequate penetration. Generally, from May through to September, any aeration completed on greens is done with micro tines only so as not to disturb the playing surfaces.

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Fertilising:- Fertiliser treatment and turf tonic can be continued in accordance with your annual programme. If you haven't got a fertiliser programme, have your soil tested; try an independent soil analysis company for an impartial set of results.

Most greenstaff will be applying their summer fertilisers to maintain vigour and colour, aiming to cut back on the (N) nitrogen input and (P) phosphate elements, and apply something like a 8:0:6 or similar. USGA sand based greens tend to be more hungry for fertilisers compared to the pushed up soil greens.

Most course managers are then looking to colour up the greens with an application of iron and seaweed products prior to competitions and tournaments. Many like to use straight compound fertilisers that act instantly to the conditions, rather than use slow release products that can initiate or stimulate growth when you don't want it.

In recent years we have seen a move to using combinations of both granular and liquid feeds, applying some base slow release fertilisers that are topped up with regular applications of liquids every 2-3 weeks to maintain vigour and colour.

Also, we have seen a trend towards using a number of organic products and bio stimulants to improve sward quality and help reduce plant stresses.

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Mowing:- Frequencies varying from daily to twice weekly operations dependent on the growth of the grass and the standards set by the course manager. Mowing heights may vary depending on local conditions, type of course, course expectations, sward type and mower type.

The mowing heights are a guide, and will be subject to local weather conditions, but remember not to remove more than 1/3 of total grass height in each cut. The less stress that is placed on the grass at this vital time the better the results.

Greens. Mowing height should be maintained at around 3-6mm.
Tees. Mowing height should be maintained at around 10-15mm.
Fairways. Mowing height should be maintained at around 15-25mm.

Rough and semi rough grass areas. Mow and tidy up these areas. Reduce build up of clippings by cutting little and often with a rotary or flail. The rough will be bursting with natural flora and fauna at present. Next year, why not add some more native flower species to the rough, there are many on the market produced by national grass seed breeders.

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Grooming / Verticutting / Scarifying / Topdressing

Many clubs are now moving towards little and often regimes of grooming and verticutting, looking to carry out these tasks on a fortnightly basis, keeping unwanted and straggly grass groomed and upright ready for mowing.

Topdressing is now done more frequently with a number of golf courses applying light dressings on a monthly basis.

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Changing Holes & Diseases, including Moss and Algae
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Changing of holes should be carried out regularly, however frequency will be dependent on a number of factors, green size, greens construction, tournaments, amount of play and condition of the green. During wet periods it is likely the hole will wear more quickly, resulting in a crowning affect and surface wear.

This wear is more apparent if the green has thatch problems. The hole will tend to wear quickly and form a depression caused by the placement of the golfers' feet. You may be looking to change the hole positions more than three times per week during wet periods. Most golf courses are changing their hole positions at least three times a week.

Greens, Tees, Fairways. Keep an eye on fungal disease attack, and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas. Scarring of the playing surface is normally reduced as grass growth is usually dominant and vigorous, reducing the need to use fungicide treatments.

However, there may be a need to apply a preventative fungicide treatment in the event of important competitions or matches, thus reducing the damage or effects of any disease. Red thread is widespread now, especially on red fescue and ryegrass, so if you have signs of this, a feed of nitrogen will be effective.

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Other Tasks for the Month
  • Check and repair fences, seating, shelters, bridges, litter bins, shoe and ball cleaners, signs, and tee boxes.

  • Check and rake bunkers daily.

  • All tee boxes, tee pegs and competition markers should be inspected daily, cleaned and moved to new positions as required.

  • Inspect and clean machinery after use, service and repair damaged machinery.

  • Inspect all water features on course, cleaning out any unwanted debris and litter.

  • Mark out trolley areas, out of bound site areas and range markings.

  • Keep all footpaths clean and free from debris, check any step details and hand rails (Health & Safety).

  • Repair any divots and scars. Divotting in dry weather is very important as there is little time to waste and that divot needs to knit back into place. Replace it, add a dressing of root zone, seed and then irrigate.

  • Over seeding of sparse or bare areas can be continued, the rise in temperature will help germination. Use germination sheets to aid this process but remove the sheets regularly to check for diseases. Remember that without good seed to soil contact the operation is useless.

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