June Golf Diary 2008

Laurence Gale MScin Golf

cold-ashby-golf-club-048_website.jpgMost clubs should be up to speed with their daily maintenance regimes; greens, tees, fairways and bunker hazards should be at their best, both in a visual and performance perspective.

Clubs will be concentrating on the presenation of their course. Keeping on top of grass growth is important. There is nothing worse than seeing huge amounts of arisings lying around and poorly cut swathes of grass.

Frequency of cut will also affect turf grass quality; infrequent cutting results in weaker, thinner swards. Equally, mowing down long grass may cause mowers to clog up, affecting the quality and leaving areas uncut. Also, trying to cut too much grass will put extra strain on drive shafts, belts and pulleys, which may result in mower damage.

The affect of over cutting and close mowing of grass swards leads to the grass plant becoming stressed because too much leaf tissue is being removed, reducing the plants capability to produce enough carbohydrates to maintain plant health.

Timing of cutting also affects turf grass quality. Trying to cut the grass in the mornings when there is a heavy dew on the ground or during heavy rainfall will result in poor cutting quality, together with skidding and scuffing damage to the playing surface.

Size, weight and power of mowers also have to be considered. Speed of the machine will dictate how quickly you can mow your facility. The weight of the machines may also affect turf grass qualitycold-ashby-golf-club-005_website.jpg

Training in mower use is important, to ensure operators are familiar with controls and mowing height settings, and being able to monitor and keep sward height consistent.

Soil and air temperatures are increasing, resulting in a rise in Evapotranspiration (ET) rates. Depending on the weather some courses can be losing up to 4mm of water a day.

This deficit needs to be made up by irrigation. Most golf courses now have an efficient watering system. It will be important to work out your water needs and irrigate accordingly to maintain your water balance.

Check the irrigation system is working correctly, you do not want to be wasting your water or finding you are not putting enough on uniformly. Put a number of catch cans out on your greens/tees and then operate your system, running for a set time. Measure the amount of water collected in the catch cans. This will give you a good indication of how much water is being applied.

Soils are now relatively dry, with some grass beginning to show signs of drought stress. First signs of drought stress are seen in colour and texture changes, the grass becomes duller and turns a bluish colour, with leaf blades narrowing and folding. These changes are the plants way of closing down its cell functions which, over time, eventually lead to the plant wilting (loss of plant turgor). If conditions do not improve or adequate water cannot be made available, the plant will continue to decline until death occurs.

The degree of drought stress/wilting is affected by factors such as grass type, soil type and management practices. Some grass species, such as fescues, have the ability to withstand dry conditions as they are natively found in sandy soils and have adapted to these condition producing narrow thin leaves.

The best way to control drought stress is by plant management. Increase the height of cut during dry periods, reduce grooming and verticutting activities. Do not feed during dry conditions unless you have adequate watering resources.

You do need to ensure the plant is getting sufficient moisture to its roots by effective irrigation practices. However, poor use and application of water resources also affects plant stress, this is usually associated with over and under watering practices.

Most golf clubs now have automated watering systems which, in the main, are provided for greens maintenance. More and more clubs are extending their systems to cover tees, aprons and fairways.

However, even with the most sophisticated irrigation systems, there still needs to be an input by the course manager/greenkeeper to decide when, how much and how often to irrigate.

It is essential to ensure the water is uniformly applied to prevent any dry patches forming. Frequent watering often encourages shallow rooting, which can and will lead to grass problems, increased disease and greater susceptibility to stress injury. Watering deeply and less frequently provides for improved turf growth.

When irrigation becomes necessary, wet the soil to a minimum depth of 100mm-150mm. This amount of water varies with soil texture, but approximately 25mm applied uniformly should thoroughly wet most soils to a depth 150mm. Use a probe to check depth of watering.

Irrigation can be applied at any time during the day or night. Both day and night watering have advantages and disadvantages. Midday watering cools the turf and reduces heat stress on hot summer days. Daytime watering can sometime be relatively inefficient due to substantial evaporation losses. Night watering helps to conserve water because of minimal evaporation, however, it can incite or aggravate disease problems.

June Maintenance Tasks for Golf Courses

Aeration / When conditions allow :- Greens. 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.Tees. Generally no aeration carried out on tees during June.Fairways. Generally no aeration on fairways during June.

Amenity areas / Weekly :- Tidy up any flower and shrub borders around the club house and entrance.PCS-golf-7.jpg

Brushing / Sweeping / Daily :- 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.

Bunkers / Daily :- Inspect, weed and rake bunkers. Repair any damage from rabbits or other animals, maintain sand up the face of the bunkers to prevent erosion of the bunker face.

Course Inspection / Daily :- Inspect greens, tees, flags and hole positions for damage or vandalism.

Diseases including Moss & Algae / Daily :- 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 in June, 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 this disease.

Divoting / As required / Greens, Tees and Fairways. Repair any divots and scars.

Drainage / Weekly :-Inspect drainage outfalls, channels and ditches. Ensure that they are working.

Fertiliser programme / If grass shows signs of stress (weak growth, discoloured) :- 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 grounds staff will be applying their summer fertiliser 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 NPK fertiliser. Generally, USGA sand based greens tend to be more hungry for fertilisers compared to the pushed up soil greens. Most course managers would then look to colour up the greens with an application of iron and sea weed products prior to competitions and tournaments. Many course managers 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.

The choice of materials and how well they work can be dependant on factors such as soil type and weather, with moisture and and air temperatures being the catalyst for growth.

Footpaths / As required :- Keep all footpaths clean and free from debris, check any step details and hand rails ( Health & Safety).

Harrowing / raking / When conditions allow :- Fairways. Harrowing/raking helps restore levels and keep surfaces open.

Hole changing / As required :- 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. Wear is more apparent if the green has thatch problems.

Most golf courses are changing their hole positions at least three times a week.

Inspect course structures / As required :- The Course, Clubhouse, Car parks. Check and repair fences, seating, shelters, bridges, litter bins, shoe and ball cleaners, signs, and tee boxes.cold-ashby-golf-club-010_website.jpg

Irrigation / Daily :- Check and monitor all sprinkler head controls/valves to see that they are working, and check the spray patterns and timing of each and every sprinkler head. Also check any manual systems, hose pipes, sprinklers and pumps.

Soil and air temperatures during June are likely to increase affecting the rate of evapotranspiration (ET - water loss from both the soil and grass plants) increasing the likelihood of the ground and surfaces drying out.

It is very important that water is uniformly applied to keep the grass plant alive and healthy and to prevent dry patch occurring. Most golf courses have formal garden/ornamental areas that require watering especially when new summer bedding schemes have been planted.

Litter / debris / Daily :- Greens, Tees and Fairways. Inspect and remove debris from playing surfaces. Regularly empty litter bins/tee boxes.

Machinery (Repairs & Maintenance) / Daily :- Inspect and clean machinery after use, service and repair damaged machinery.

Marking out / Weekly :- Mark out trolley areas, out of bound site areas and range markings.

Materials / Monthly :- Estimate and order seed, loams and fertilisers, fuels and other consumables.

Mowing / As required :- June sees the mowing operations in full swing with the aim of reducing the height of cut of the greens, so that by the end of June the greens will be at their summer height (3-6mm). 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.

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 further on into the season.

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 15-20mm.

Rough, Semi rough grass areas. Mow and tidy up these areas.

Pest control / As required :- Weed growth is very active during June enabling course managers to use and apply selective herbicides. These are more effective when the plant is actively promoting growth. Moles and rabbit damage; repairs as required.

Ponds, lakes and streams /Weekly :- Inspect all water features on course, cleaning out any unwanted debris and litter.

Seed bare and worn areas / When conditions allow :- Greens, Tees and Fairways. 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.

Ensure you use new seed as old material may not give you the required germination rates. Remember, bents and fescue grasses require higher soil temperatures for successful germination.

Tee boxes, pegs / As required :- All tee boxes, tee pegs and competition markers should be inspected daily, cleaned and moved to new positions as required.

Top dressing / As required :- Greens and Tees. Ensure you have enough top dressing material for any renovation or repair works.

Wetting agents / As required :- If wetting agents are being used they are generally applied monthly throughout the season.

Woodland and conservation areas / As required :- High and strong winds can damage trees on golf courses. Inspect and repair or remove damaged trees. It is important to inspect trees regularly (heath & safety) to reduce the likelihood of a golfer being struck by tree debris.

Artificial Tees and Mats

Artificial Grass Systems / Weekly :- Keep surface clean, regular sweeping and brushing. Remove any algae and moss from surface. Sand filled systems require regular brushing to maintain manufacturer's recommendations for sand levels and pile heights

Rubber Tee Mats / As required :- Keep clean.

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