August Golf Diary
By Laurence Gale MSc
What a wonderful summer we are having, it has been a long time since we have had such a long sustained period of dry weather. Most courses are looking distinctly brown, dry and dusty, a testing environment for golf.
Any newly sown or newly laid turf will be under the most stress due to the fact that the rooting structure is immature and shallow, it will be important to water these areas to ensure they are kept alive.
Any hand watering should ideally be carried out in the early mornings or late evenings to reduce water being lost by high evapotranspiration rates.
Irrigation will now be a major consideration in maintaining turf surfaces. Evapotranspiration (ET), the combined water loss from both the plant and soil surfaces, will be rising due to the warm weather. Watering will be essential for maintaining greens tees and fairways.
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.
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
Most golf courses have formal garden/ornamental areas that also require watering.
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.
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 would then look to colour up the greens with an application of iron and sea weed 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.
Maintain the greens 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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Top dressing is now done more frequently with a number of golf courses applying light dressings on a monthly basis.
Changing of holes should be carried out regularly, however frequency will be dependant 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 time per week during wet periods.
Most golf courses are changing their hole positions at least three times a week.
Diseases including Moss & Algae
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.
Daily inspections & other tasks
The course, clubhouse, car parks. 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).
Divotting of 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.
Overseeding 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.