Many Greenkeepers will be glad to see the back of June, with hopefully some better weather in July. Many courses will have suffered, the heavy rainfall will have waterlogged or flooded many parts of the course.
Once ground becomes waterlogged it is prone to damage; foot traffic can do untold damage if not policed. There may be a need to restrict access to parts of the course. Indeed, some clubs have had to resort to closing holes or implementing the use of temporary greens for play to continue.
Cutting regimes may be affected, the use of heavy equipment on wet ground will do more harm than good. However, the course will soon dry out once we get some favourable weather and improved air temperatures. It may then be a case of catching up with grass cutting regimes.
Once we get a spell of decent dry, warm weather it is likely you will be operating the irrigation equipment to keep the sward alive; it is surprising how quickly soils can dry out, especially sandy soils. To help minimise water usage, many managers have reset sprinkler heads to target greens only. Hand watering is a key task for troublesome areas such as slopes and high spots. Watering should be done in the evening or through the night when evaportranspiration is at its lowest. When irrigating it is essential to ensure the water is uniformly applied to prevent any dry patches forming.
Mowing and course preparation will be the priority in July, particularly with the additional influx of golf competitions usually planned for this time of the year. 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.
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.
Many greenkeepers will be keeping an eye on green speeds, aiming to achieve faster greens for their premier summer golf tournaments. This usually involves dropping down the sward height to around 3mm which, in the short term is ok but, ideally, for no longer than a week. Keeping the sward at this length any longer will result in the grass plant becoming stressed, which may lead to some longer term problems, particularly increasing susceptibility to disease.
Inspect, weed and rake bunkers. Most courses tend to rake their bunkers every other day to keep the sand well presented and on the face of the bunker. Repair any damage from rabbits or other animals, maintain sand up the face of the bunkers to prevent erosion.
Irrigation / As required :- 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. Many golf courses have formal garden/ornamental areas that require watering, especially when new summer bedding schemes have been planted.
Disease / daily check :- Greens , Tees , Fairways. Keep an eye on fungal disease attack, and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas. With the hot, humid conditions some golf courses are experiencing outbreaks of fusarium, particularly on their greens.
Fertilisers / As and when required :- Fertiliser treatment and turf tonic can be continued in accordance with your annual programme. If you don't have a fertiliser programme, have your soil tested; try an independent soil analysis company for an impartial set of results.
Most greens staff 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 NPK fertilisers. Straight compound fertilisers that act instantly to the conditions are generally used, rather than slow release products that can initiate or stimulate growth when you don't want it. 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 seaweed products prior to competitions and tournaments.
The choice of materials and how well they work can be dependent on factors such as soil type and weather, with moisture and and air temperatures being the catalyst for growth.
Hole Changing/ Weekly :- 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. During wet periods it is likely the hole will wear more quickly, resulting in a crowning effect 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.
Aeration and Top dressing / As required :- Aeration and top dressing operations will continue on the course. Many are now adopting a little and often approach to top dressing greens, applying smaller quantities of dressings through out the year, less than 0.5 tons per green. This has several advantages - it ensures there is no build up of layers of rootzone materials which can lead to rootbreaks in the soil profile, it avoids smothering of the grass plant and also creates minimal disruption to play:
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 July.
Fairways - Generally no aeration on fairways during July.
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.
Litter/debris / Daily :- Greens, Tees and Fairways. Inspect and remove debris from playing surfaces., such as litter, twigs and leaves. Regularly empty litter bins/tee boxes.
Machinery (Repairs & Maintenance) / Check 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 :- 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. 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 July, so apply selective herbicides. These are more effective when the plant is actively promoting growth. Moles and rabbit damage - repairs as required.
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. You may need to wait for favourable temperatures later in the year.
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 to be carried out in July.
Wetting agents /As required :- If wetting agents are being used they are generally applied monthly throughout the season.
Woodland & 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.