0 Climate change infests golf club

The culprit is the nematode worm, normally only seen in the warmer tropical areas.

The first signs of trouble were yellow rings on the surface of the grass.

The spear-headed microscopic worm attacks the roots of the grass and sucks out moisture and nutrients.

Even with the sprinklers on, the worms suck up the moisture leaving the grass still looking drought stricken.

It turns out the worms were arriving in the loads of sand being used to relay football pitches and golf greens.

Although few in number, in perfect conditions the worms multiply.

Only a really cold snap of weather could slow down their spread, but a warming climate means the worms now pose a wider threat.

The putting green at the course was installed around three years ago and the worm has been present ever since, although it was not considered the cause of the problem at first.

Head greenkeeper, David Irwin said it was a shock to discover the worm infestation.

He said: "The putting green was a new sand-based green imported in, the other greens were just dug out of the ground so they were not affected.

"We sanded it, spiked it and over-seeded it but nothing would get the grass growing, every time we thought we had beaten it - it came back stronger."

He went on: "We were forced to close the green for longer periods.

"At first we thought the turf was from a bad batch and probably needed changing but after I read an article about this worm we thought it might be that."

When David called an expert on the worm he said he was shocked at the suggestion it might be the nematode.

He said: "It is in southern parts of Ireland and south England but this is the first case here in Northern Ireland.

"Apparently it has never been found this far north and even more incredibly there was not a cure for it until only recently.

"But the tests proved we had it, the treatment restricts the spread of the worm but does not kill it."

The putting green is back in action and the treatments are beginning to take hold, however, this is not the only sign of the changing weather.

David explained: "The grass around the course is still growing, normally we can roll it around this time of year, but we are still cutting away like mad.

"This worm is something I have never encountered before, it is all a sign of the changing weather and temperatures.

"We need a good frost to set into the ground to get rid of this worm, the winters are not so cold and this summer, in particular, was not a great one.

He concluded: "But this is not the only sign of the changing times, some diseases are coming through in different strains and we are kept busy trying to keep up."

Article from :- Lurgan Mail

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