The greens at Bellingham Golf Course, regarded by many as Northumberland's 'friendliest' club, have benefited greatly from a seeding makeover, using top rated Barenbrug cultivars.
The original nine-hole course was established near Hexham 114 years ago. A further nine holes were added in 1995. The parkland course is on an exposed site, and in winter the days are short and night time temperatures low.
Before the remedial work started in May 2006, the greens consisted mainly of meadow grass. They played well in summer but succumbed to fatal diseases such as Anthracnose and Fusarium in winter. This produced an uneven putting surface and the winter colour was poor.
Keen to improve the presentation and play of the greens, head greenkeeper Matt Crofton called Allan Morton of Turfcare Specialists Ltd at Consett, the local Barenbrug distributor, and Barenbrug R&D manager Jayne Leyland, for advice.
"I was looking for a way to improve the greens in a sustainable way, but on a limited budget," explains Matt. "Allan and Jayne suggested overseeding with Barenbrug's 'BAR All Bent' mixture as this would gradually take over from the meadow grass.
"We scarified the greens to remove thatch and verti-cut the surface, so that the seed had a greater chance of being in contact with the rootzone prior to germination. We then over sowed at a rate of 4g/m², rolled the area to again ensure close seed-to-soil contact, and finally applied a light top dressing. This programme was repeated again in May this year."
Eighteen months after the initial seeding, Matt and the regular golfers are already noticing a significant difference in the way the greens look and play.
"The greens now consist of 40 to 50 per cent bentgrass, and the patches of finer grasses are clearly visible," says Matt. "The greens used to be quite slow - but now they are really speeding up and offering the players much more of a challenge. There is also very little disease now."
Bellingham golf club manager Jaimie Self is delighted with the results. "We are very pleased with the greens this year," he commented. "They are certainly heading in the right direction, and we have had very positive comments, especially from the large number of visiting parties that come to play here."
Barenbrug's Jayne Leyland is also pleased with how well the reseeding programme has gone at Bellingham.
"There was a clear need for some species exchange on the greens," says Jayne. "Maintaining a meadow grass sward in a playable condition all-year-round is very hard on a limited budget.
"Overseeding with top rated, disease resistant browntop bents such as BarKing, was definitely the right way forward in this situation. The cultivars have established very quickly, and Matt is reaping the rewards of his carefully managed rejuvenation programme."
BAR All Bent is a specialist all bent overseeding mixture comprising top-rated cultivars and features BarKing an outstanding cultivar offering excellent winter performance and superior bentgrass wear tolerance. BAR All Bent also includes Heriot, the finest-leafed browntop bent available.
Photo caption: The Par 4, 12th hole (pictured) at Bellingham Golf Course is just one of the holes on this course that has benefited from the greens overseeding programme with Barenbrug's 'BAR All Bent' mixture.