September Golf Diary

By Laurence Gale MSc

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However, the signs look favourable for better weather during September. This months weather predictions have forecast a good deal of settled and warm weather.

Disease attacks may be quite prevalent during September especially after the wettest August on record, heavy rainfall will have washed and leached out many soil nutrients especially on sandy and free draining sites. The loss of nutrients from the soil profile inevitably puts the sward under stress, decreasing the plants ability to withstand an attack of disease.

September is a time when Greenkeepers will be looking to use some preventative fungicide treatments to ensure disease is kept under control. Using systemic fungicides whilst temperatures remain high and contact fungicides when the temperatures become cooler towards the end of the month.

Most of the tasks detailed can be undertaken within a limited budget. Local conditions and circumstances will need to be taken into account. If any members are undertaking any specific work not detailed, please let us know by adding a comment in the section below the diary.

September Maintenance Tasks for Golf

Natural Grass

Task

Frequency

Reason

Aerationseptember-golf-diary-sisis.jpg

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. Aeration of tees will commence inn September with works continuing throughout the winter when weather conditions allow.

Fairways. When the ground is fit, aerate with solid, rather than slit tines to reduce chances of surface cracking, while the weather is still warm and dry.

Amenity areas

Weekly

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Brushing /Sweeping

Daily / Weekly

Greens & 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.

Bunkersseptember-golf-diary-bunker.jpg

Daily / weekly

Inspect, weed and rake bunkers. Repair any damage from rabbits or other animals, maintain sand up the face of the bunkers to prevent erosion and sand loss. Some golf courses experienced flash floods in August, leaving many bunkers in a poor state. (washing out sand from bunker faces) Repair works may be necessary.

Course Inspection

Daily

Inspect greens, tees, flags and hole positions for damage or vandalism.

Diseases including Moss & Algae

Daily / Weekly

Greens , Tees , Fairways. Keep an eye on fungal disease attack, September is a prolific month for disease due to the onset of heavy dews on the playing surfaces in the mornings. Use approved fungicides to treat infected areas. Red thread and fairy rings are very active in September. see link for information on both diseases. Red thread, Fairy rings.

Divotting

As required

Greens, Tees and Fairways. 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.

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 Autumn fertiliser's to maintain some vigour and colour, aiming to cut back on the (N) nitrogen input and (P) phosphate elements, and apply something like a 5-0-10 +6% Fe +2% Mg +25% Nutralene or similar NPK fertilisers. Generally USGA sand based greens tend to be more hungry for fertilisers compared to the pushed up soil greens. See link for autumn fertilisers.

The choice of materials and how well they work can be dependant on factors such as soil type and weather, with moisture 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 Changingcocksmoors-wood,-pin-postio.jpg

As required

Changing of holes should be carried out regularly, however frequency will be dependant on a number of factors, green size, green 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 time per week during wet periods.

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.

Irrigation

Daily and weekly

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 September can still remain warm and dry 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 irrigation is uniformly applied to keep the grass plant alive and healthy and to prevent dry patch occurring. Further information about Irrigation of sports surfaces can be see on link. Irrigation.

Litter / debris

Daily / Weekly

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

Machinery (Repairs & Maintenance)

Daily / Weekly

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

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As required

Greenkeepers will try to retain their summer heights of cut (3-6mm) during September. Especially as many courses still have a number of competitions and members days running. However, most course managers / Greenkeepers will be looking to reduce mowing heights on greens and tees by 1-2mm by the end of September. Other tasks that complement this work involve the use of grooming and verticutting units to remove unwanted thatch and side shoot growth. The frequency of grooming is fortnightly and verticutting monthly.

Mowing frequencies varying from daily to twice weekly operations dependant 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 15-25mm.

Rough, 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.

Pest control

As required

The opportunity to control weed growth by using chemicals products is now not viable. Due to the lower light levels and fluctuations of air and soil temperatures in September. The efficiency of using systemic products has been greatly reduced. and in most cases do not work effectively when the plants metabolism has slowed down. Other cultural practices can be undertaken, usually in the form of hand weeding and hoeing (bunker weeds).

Pests scrounging for food can cause a lot of damage on turf surfaces, foxes have been known to regularly dig up old hole placements, night after night. Moles and Rabbits are still very active in September.

Birds feeding on grubs and larvae of insects can cause severe surface damage.

Reducing or stopping their food source is a viable control method to reduce pest damage.

Ponds, lakes and streamsseptember-golf-diary-stream.jpg

Weekly

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

Renovations September Greens, Tees .Many clubs may have completed their green renovations in August, to maximise the benefits of high soil temperatures, to ensure good seed germination. However with all the heavy rainfall these renovations may be ongoing through September.

The objectives of end of season renovations are many:

  • To repair worn areas.
  • Prevent a build up of thatch layers (scarification).
  • Restore surface levels (top dressing).
  • Alleviate compaction (aeration).
  • Re-establish sward densities. (overseeding).
  • Application of pre seeding / autumn fertilisers to promote sward establishment.

Further information on renovation techniques and equipment can be seen on the following link. Renovation.

Seed bare & worn areas

When conditions allow

Greens, Tees and Fairways. Overseeding of sparse or bare areas can be continued in September. 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 older bagged seed may not give you the required germination rates.

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 & Tees. Ensure you have enough top dressing material for any renovation or repair works carried out in September. Be careful not to over dress playing surfaces. Too much dressing will smother the surface creating an environment for disease and algae attack. An application rate of 1.5 - 2 kg/m² about 1mm is sufficient, heavier dressing will only be useful if you are hollow tining or vertidraining.

Wetting agents

As required

If wetting agents are being used they are generally applied monthly throughout the season.

Woodland & conservation areas.

As required

Strong winds can damage trees on golf courses. Inspect and repair or remove damaged trees and/or limbs. Take note of any fuller tree branches, which may need autumn pruning to reduce weight and provide an unobstructed shot back into play. Check deer and rabbit guards on whips and saplings. Make a thorough check of general shrub and tree health and contact your local arboriculturlists if required.

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.