Again, the main tasks will not have changed much, with emphasis still focused on presentation and the playing qualities of the course.
In August, 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.
In recent years, we have seen many Greenkeepers using a concoction of products to improve the quality of their greens in terms of promoting growth and vigour and improving soil porosity; these come in many guises, both liquid and granular formulations.
For many years, we have seen the use of wetting agents to help improve soil conditions, whilst at the same time feeding regimes are not just reliant on the use of straight NPK fertilisers but, again, a concoction of bio stimulants / compost teas and other organic products.
August also is one of the busiest times of the year for club competitions. Golfers like consistent fast greens; to achieve this, we need to be consistent in the way we manage our greens.
Key Tasks for August
Greens 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 that 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.
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 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.
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 judgement 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 - i.e. 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 head into August, 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.
Tees - Mowing requirements are unlikely to be more than twice per week unless conditions are damp and growth remains strong. HOC will also remain at around 12mm for most courses but should be raised for non irrigated tees that are suffering from drought stress. Playing levels are likely to remain high, therefore daily movement of tee markers and regular divoting will be the norm to maintain good surface quality and presentation.
Any additional watering should be sufficient to aid recovery and maintain turf vigour, but largely aimed at developing a good root structure. Solid tining with no more than 13mm width tines may be an option to help with moving water quickly from the surface.
Keeping surfaces clean and free of divots and broken tees must be a daily task as well as the need to clean and maintain all course accessories.
Fairways - By August, definition between fairway and light rough can often fade due to the dry conditions. Much will depend on the amount of rain that falls unless of course the fairways are irrigated. Mowing is likely to be less frequent than in June and July but the HOC will remain the same, with most courses cutting at between 14mm and 17mm. At this time of year, divot damage may be slow to recover, therefore divoting of the worst affected areas may be required.
Roughs - Mowing frequency of many areas of rough will be less in August, unless it is a wet month and growth is continuing. As before, the main areas of rough are likely to be rotary cut at 50mm. Any areas of intermediate rough will still be cut weekly, but this is limited to just one or two 'bands' wide. Cutting areas of deeper rough should continue, with the aim of collecting the grass and lowering the nutrient levels to encourage the finer and slower growing grasses to thrive.
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.
Bunker maintenance during August is largely a continuation of regular raking either by hand or via machine. With growth slowing down, any edging and trimming will be slight but the focus needs to remain on stone and weed removal. Regular checks should be made regarding sand depth and distribution. If weed problems persist on sand faces, then these can be spot sprayed with glyphosate, but care needs to be taken to avoid any drift onto the surrounding banks.
August is a good time for another organic fertiliser application; with a two month longevity, an application in August will take you through to October, which is the perfect time for an autumn winter feed. Maxwell Turf Food Myco2 4-6-12+4%MgO provides a nice kick of phosphorous, potassium and magnesium for plant resilience and colour but without too much nitrogen so as not to encourage excessive soft lush growth. The mycorrhizal fungi combined with the phosphorus content means it is also especially good as a fertiliser when sowing seed.
The risk of severe drought stress has largely passed and August tends to produce substantial rainfall. Moisture combined with warmth and humidity is going to place stress on the plant from a number of directions. Aeration is vital to keep the soil oxygen ratio balanced, 8 mm needle or 12 mm standard tines down to a depth of 200-300mm with a vertical aerator will be particularly beneficial in allowing the soil to breath. Combining this with a weekly pass from a Sarel or Star Tine aerator will provide a large volume of aeration into the sward and thatch layer to provide a rounded approach to aeration.
Continued use of polymer and penetrant wetting agents will also help to manage soil water percolation and retention more effectively by moving rain fall away from the surface but holding it further down in the profile where it will be readily available during any hotter and sunny spells.
Disease pressure has been unseasonably high throughout July and this is likely to continue into August. With both microdochium patch and anthracnose forecast to be problematic. Heritage Maxx fungicide is a strong contender for use as a preventative and early curative with its systemic action making it an sensible option during the growing season and especially as a preventative prior to turf renovations. Red thread will also thrive in humid conditions and reducing total time of continual leaf blade wetness through switching and brushing is the first line of defence when aiming to minimise disease activity.
Seaweed is a fantastic way of boosting soil flora, priming the pant to resist environmental stress and extending the longevity of fertilisers. However, it is a fantastic fungal food and stimulator so applications need to be timed carefully to boost good fungi and not pathogenic ones. Keeping a close eye on weather trends combined with fungicide treatments is important, or put simply; do not apply it when fungal disease is active, apply it about a week after a fungicide application, ideally with some Chelated Iron to strengthen plant cell walls.
Weed growth is very active during August, 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 August, 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.
Also be on the lookout for craneflys; adults emerge from pupae in the soil in late summer, and females mate and lay eggs in turfgrass within 24 hours. Eggs hatch into wormlike larvae, often called "leatherjackets". Leatherjackets feed on roots and crowns of plants during the fall and spring. They remain mostly underground but may feed on the above ground parts of plants on damp, warm nights. They spend the winter in the soil but do not feed until the weather warms up. Leatherjackets pupate mid to late spring, just below the soil surface. In late summer and autumn, adults emerge to start the cycle again.
One of the biggest investments made by any golf club is in their machinery portfolio, with high levels of expenditure made on their mowing fleet. A ride on triple cylinder mower can now cost in excess of £25,000, so when you consider most clubs have several of them in their fleet, you can soon build up a hefty machinery investment running into hundreds of thousands of pounds.
So, it is important we look after and maintain these valuable machines, carrying out regular servicing and repairs.
It is also important to get your staff trained to use specific machinery/equipment.
Most clubs do have wash down facilities, it is important to inspect and clean machinery after use.
Maintain a stock of consumables for your machinery; replace worn and damaged parts when necessary.
Provide adequate storage space for machinery, secure machinery with good locks, and record make and models or, better still, take pictures of your equipment.
These newly introduced courses have recently been give LANTRA accreditation:
Other new courses available:
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
General housekeeping will continue, and should include:
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
Rake/weed bunkers daily
Divot tees daily and fairways when possible
Keep golfers off areas under renovation and maintain further traffic management where appropriate