This is normally the peak growing month of the year and a time when courses should be at or close to peak playing condition. Society and visitor play is generally high and, at member clubs, competitions and matches are held on many days throughout the month.
Therefore, the key challenge is to deliver expectations without having an adverse effect on play. With daylight hours at or close to maximum and daily temperatures being ideal for golf, the level of play is likely to be high and, as such, wear on areas such as small tees, landing areas and so on can be at a premium.
The main criteria this month is the quality, smoothness and consistency of the putting surface. Mowing is likely to be daily and HOC will vary depending upon what grass species is present and what the current objectives are.
However, most courses will be mowing at 4mm with a triplex mower, supported by a mix of regular brushing, grooming and verti-cutting to help reduce lateral growth and prevent further thatch build-up. If this can be followed by frequent, but very light dressings, of around 5 tons per 19 greens then this will help to provide good playing surfaces, and without any real interference to play.
Aeration can be carried out more towards the start of the week using needle, micro or star tines, along with perhaps two light rollings each week using either the vibrating attachments or a self powered greens roller.
The use of sarel rollers is also beneficial in preventing any 'capping' of the surface. With regards to feeding and watering, the former should only be via a foliar tank mix containing a low amount of Nitrogen, a slightly higher amount of Potassium and various amendments such as seaweed and humic acids.
These are helpful in combating any drought or heat stress that may arise during the month. Wetting agent should be applied as required, possibly as part of the tank mix and supplemented by hand watering any high and exposed areas on the green: this is in addition to lightly aerifying the surface to ensure maximum water penetration.
The other useful product addition is a growth retardant, such as Primo-Maxx, which can be included in the tank mix but best to check on compatibility for all proposed tank mixes before applying.
HOC for tees is generally between 10 and 15 mm, but tournament venues and resort style courses will be lower. Most courses now tend to mow at 12mm using tee triples with boxes but, as always, there are variations. Apart from regular mowing and clipping removal, the main requirement is to ensure divot filling takes place as often as possible and that tee markers are moved daily, with surfaces blown clear, especially on the par 3 holes.
A good clean surface is essential, and attention to detail for bins, ball washers and signage is part of the presentation process. Smaller tees may require on-going over-seeding, either using non rye or rye based mixes, followed by a compost dressing to aid germination. Fertiliser and watering should be as required, but both applied sparingly to encourage good root depth.
The former is most likely to have been applied in April with good longevity. Using a growth regulator will also lead to better turf quality and will reduce the amount of damage from divots. If doing so, then best to add a small amount of Nitrogen to give improved turf density and to maintain good colour.
At this time of year it is more a case of mowing regularly for good playing quality, usually at a height of about 35mm. Ride on rotaries are generally preferred, but cylinder reels are just as effective; more so if the grass species present is non-rye. Some selective weed control may be necessary, so use a product with different active ingredients to give a broad spectrum control ie clover, daisies and dandelion. Only use traffic control measures if necessary at this time of year and if so there are good examples of discreet turf protection using post and rope or other devices.
With definition and presentation in mind at this time of year, mowing is likely to be twice per week for most courses but this will vary upon grass type, rate of growth and desired standard of presentation. Stripe mowing using ride-on machines is probably the most favourable but 'block' mowing is just as effective and costs less in terms of fuel usage and machine wear.
Fairways are generally mown at between 14 to 17mm but again this will be lower on the high end properties. Those using gang mowers are just as effective but care needs to be taken when turning at either end of the fairway. Apart from selective weed control and divot filling, only a minority of courses will require further work such as irrigation, solid tining and over-seeding etc.
Since growth will be at a peak, mowing is likely to be an on-going requirement for many courses unless on fine fescue links or heathland. Most roughs are mowed with rotary mowers, either trailed or ride-on. Many courses now grade the rough with a narrow 5 metre band of intermediate rough cut at around 25mm, then standard semi at 50mm. Out of play roughs are often left uncut but this will depend upon individual course policy.
This is also the month best suited for controlling unwanted weeds. However, this should be limited to the main playing areas and every attempt should be made to designate areas of the course for natural grassland.
Regular raking, edging and trimming to ensure good presentation will be an on-going requirement, along with the re-distribution of sand to ensure an adequate and consistent depth of sand. Some topping up of sand is likely and to some extent will depend upon individual requirements. Where wash-outs are common on high sand faced bunkers, then removal and replacement of sand is more likely. Stone removal and possible glyphosate treatment to sand faces are also to be considered as part of the monthly routine.
Lakes/Ponds/Ditches: The need for strimming and general tidiness is paramount on the latter. Some algae control via the use of pre-arranged barley straw may be required. If weed persists, best to seek advice on species and method of control since these areas are likely to fall under environmental regulations.
Equipment and Irrigation: Since both are likely to be used frequently, it is essential that regular servicing and checks on hydraulic pipes, guards, mowing units and so on are carried out by a qualified member of staff. Irrigation, even if not in use should be checked for leaks, performance and coverage and adjusted accordingly. The importance of record keeping is also a must, with servicing carried out as per recommended guidelines.
Disease: June should be free of any real disease pressure but best to keep a watch for any signs of Take-All Patch, especially if pH levels are high or the water supply is more alkaline.
Mowing: Avoid cutting when wet and if necessary, revert to afternoon mowing by alternating staff start times. Ensure that there are always two staff on duty to minimise any risks of lone working.
Stock Control: Keep a check on machine parts, irrigation joints, wetting agent, turf conditioners and so on, replacing those that have been used.
Withunpredictable weather patterns, nothing can be ruled out. Drought stress and dry patch may be an issue but again it is largely down to each course and knowing its strengths and weaknesses.
Weeds: As mentioned above, this is the best time for selective weed control, with daisies, plantains, buttercup and dandelion likely to being the main targets. Out of play roughs may suffer from thistle and this too can be treated just as effectively. There are numerous products on the market from the main suppliers, but best to apply a mix of active ingredients to give different modes of action.
Laurence Pithie MG
Turf Master One Ltd
Telephone 07774 414207