As with June, the main tasks in July will revolve around presentation and the playing qualities of the course.
In July, most clubs should be up to speed with their daily maintenance regimes; greens, tees, fairways and bunker hazards should be at their best, both in a visual and performance perspective.
As we move into the summer months and temperatures start to rise, we will need to be ensuring consistency across our putting surfaces. Reducing the cutting height and ensuring the cutting units are sharp should therefore be a priority.
Remember; do not bring the cutting heights down to more than a third of the total height of the plant at any one time. As the cutting units are to become used more regularly, the sharpness of the blade is of paramount importance to reduce the incidence of pressure from disease. If disease does occur, a judgement call will need to be made as to whether it will ‘grow out’ with good growing conditions, or the situation is not likely to improve.
Key Tasks for July
Mowing frequencies should remain high, with mowers set at their summer heights. As levels of competitions and societies increase, there will be an emphasis on ensuring the quality of the playing surface remains high, with many trying to attain good green speeds and consistency of roll as a priority. Dropping the height to reach these speeds is an obvious temptation, but should not generally be used as a tool to achieve this. Instead, look at utilising rollers within your current maintenance programme to ensure good speeds without placing undue stress on your sward.
Horizontal growth should be controlled through the use of regular brushing and verti-cutting, with the latter occurring between every two to four weeks depending on your own situation. This should help keep on top of thatch accumulation as we move through the growing season. Grooming and brushing the greens to stand horizontal growth up before mowing will encourage a denser and more attractive sward.
Hole changing should be done once or twice a week depending on golf traffic, wear or competition requirements. The first and most important is good judgment in deciding what will give fair results. Study the design of the hole as the architect intended it to be played. Know the length of the shot to the green and how it may be affected by the probable conditions for the day - that is, wind and other weather elements, conditions of the turf from which the shot will be played, and holding quality of the green.
There must be enough putting green surface between the hole and the front and the sides of the green to accommodate the required shot. For example, if the hole requires a long iron or wood shot to the green, the hole should be located deeper in the green and further from its sides than should be the case if the hole requires a short pitch shot. In any case, it is recommended that generally the hole be located at least four paces from any edge of the green. If a bunker is close to the edge, or if the ground slopes away from the edge, the distance should be greater, especially if the shot is more than a pitch. Consideration should be given to fair opportunity for recovery after a reasonably good shot that just misses the green.
As we move deeper into the month, soil temperatures will reach very high levels in places, and the propensity for surfaces to dry out will increase under a warm sunny sky (doubly so if it is windy). Watering the greens will become a major consideration, but do not become reliant on this practice to reduce drought stress. Where possible, hand watering should be employed, especially on high spots, to help reduce the chance of dry spot.
Carry this out in a manner as close to nature as possible, soaking the surface at irregular intervals, rather than using a little and often approach as with topdressing etc. The use of modern wetting agent technology such as Qualibra, with a penetrant/polymer mix will allow soils to hold water at depth, thereby reducing irrigation costs and requirements whilst encouraging deeper rooting.
Water management will be key this month. Most courses will be looking to utilise wetting agents where possible, especially in well draining situations in the south, to save money and a valuable resource. Making the correct decision with regards to which product to purchase will be key. As with everything else, try not to rely solely on price, unless you are severely restricted in your budget.
Where possible, try to find one that suits your own situation, aims and application ability. Monitoring the effect they have on your own course’s soil will provide you with a great idea of when the next application would be prudent, and how long the product lasts in your situation. This can be done with a moisture probe. There are a number of products to be browsed in the PItchcare shop at pitchcare.com/shop. Upon application, remember to water the products in well to avoid scorch.
Growth regulators could also be a key tool this month. The advantages include a healthier root system and reduced top growth, with a view to reducing the drought stress the plant will be under. Reducing vegetative growth decreases the amount of energy required for growth, and the amount of moisture required to sustain high rates of photosynthesis. An application of Primo Maxx has been shown to increase density, colour and root mass even in hot and dry conditions, whilst also reducing mowing requirements and wear on machinery.
Top dressing and Aeration
Utilising the little and often approach with topdressing and aeration practices should help ensure a smooth putting surface, whilst increasing the general health of the root system. Try not to apply more than 0.5 tonnes per green of top dressing, and where possible try to use pencil tines or similar when aerating. Deep aeration should not be required during this month, due to the dry soil conditions, but regular spiking will allow more oxygen into the rootzone, aid root development and drainage potential during periods of heavy rainfall.
Products such as Oxy rush and Primo Maxx can help further enhance root zone and system health as well, respectively. In hot and dry situations such as we can expect, ensuring the plant uses the root system as the plant’s ‘fridge’ will be very important. A monthly application of these products can help provide aerobic conditions beneficial for soil micro-organisms and divert the supply of nutrients from vegetative to root growth, thus ensuring that the basis for a healthy sward is maintained.
Fertiliser requirements will still be high, especially on USGA specification greens. As we move into a period of summer stress (drought), we should be thinking of utilising a better ratio of nitrogen to potassium. Potassium will play a major role in the plant in these periods, by affecting chemical and moisture transfer through the root system, as well as allowing better stomatal control by the individual plant. If potassium is inadequate, the level of metabolic activity will also reduce as enzyme structure can become markedly changed. This is an unwanted scenario during a period of stress. Look to a product with an NPK ratio of something akin to a 9-7-7 or a 12-0-8.
As we head into July, the levels of grass growth should be at a peak for the year. This means a lot of mowing for greenkeepers but, more importantly, a greater requirement for essential nutrients. Playing surfaces should be monitored closely for signs of nutrient stress and, allied with soil sample results taken in the spring, fertiliser choices can be made to suit the conditions and type of grass/soil present. The increased growth rate will lead to accelerated thatch accumulation. Utilising the various ways of reducing this is of paramount importance to reduce the occurrence of disease and other problems further down the line.
Moisture management could also potentially be a key feature of the month. Many greenkeepers have invested in weather stations to inform of potential evapotranspiration rates within their sward. Remember not to let the soil dry out too much, but keep irrigation practices as natural as possible. Soaking the playing surface every few days is better than religiously watering at set schedules. Moisture meters are available to help you have a greater understanding of the situation beneath your putting surfaces.
Lastly, keep tabs on playing qualities (PQS) as well as aesthetic qualities within the sward. A whole host of factors could conspire to reduce either within the putting/playing surfaces. Monitoring them closely, and on a regular basis, will provide you with a better understanding of your course. Recording findings gives an ability to compare results from previous years. Checking practical elements such as consistency and height of cut, using macroscopes and prisms, will also provide insight during a busy period.
Weed growth is very active during July, requiring the use of selective herbicides. These are more effective when the plant is actively promoting growth. Always follow manufacturers' guidelines.
Moles and rabbit damage repairs can be undertaken as and when required.
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 in July, reducing the need to use fungicide treatments. However, there may be a need to apply a preventative fungicide treatment in the lead up to important competitions or matches.
Machinery Daily:- Inspect and clean machinery after use, service and repair damaged machinery.
Maintain a stock of consumables for your machiery, replace worn and damaaged parts when necessary.
Provide adeaquate storage space for machinery, secure machinery with good locks and record make and models or, better still, take pictures of your equipment.
Pitchcare provide a range of courses suitable for golf courses. In most cases, the courses can be held on site using the club's own equipment and machinery.
Some of the courses available are:
Chainsaws - CS30 and CS31
H&S Refresher Training on Combined Turf Care Equipment; Tractors and Trailers; All Mowers (Ride-on and Pedestrian)
Machinery Courses on ATVs; Tractors: Brushcutters/Strimmers; Mowers (ride-on and Pedestrian)
Pesticide Application (PA courses)
Stem Injection of Invasive Species (Japanese Knotweed etc.)
Basic Trees Survey and Inspection
- Empty bins and refill ballwashers
- Remove broken tee pegs from tees – can cause damage to surface and to the cutting cylinder/bedknife
- Ensure tee markers and other furniture pieces are kept clean and tidy
- Hedge trimming/tree inspections
- Edge/mow bunkers
- Rake/weed bunkers daily
- Divot tees daily and fairways when possible
- Ensure team members stay out of the long rough in large machinery where possible, and encourage different paths to key positions on the course to reduce wear areas
- Keep golfers off areas under renovation and maintain further traffic management where appropriate