Around 100 international golfers, including Mark Mouland and Raymond Russell ex European Tour players are expected at Wharton Park Golf Club next spring, to compete in the Jamega Tour (third in importance after the European and Challenge tours) on greens un scarred by fusarium
Course Manager Neill Smith, who has been in charge of the 18-hole championship golf course in Worcestershire for the last four years has already begun an autumn/winter maintenance programme, a combination of sustained aeration and preventative fungicide application that he knows from experience will keep his greens clean. "I know that some turf managers wait until they see visible signs of the disease before they spray in order to keep costs down," he says, "but there are two sides of the coin. If you lose greens you lose golfers and I can't see how you can afford to come out of winter with scarring. We host the Jamega in May, so for us it's not an option."
According to Headland's Adrian Masters, who has been working with Neill since 2006, green staff at Wharton Park began their preventative programme during the summer. "Neil keeps his nutrition at the right level during the growing season, using Proturf, Trisert KS, and going into the autumn, Multigreen 12-0-44. This ensures that the grass is healthy as winter approaches and less susceptible to disease," he says.
Neill guards against the notorious autumn danger point - the moment when the greens receive their first aeration treatment after the summer. "I try to cover going into September time and always try to spray before I aerate," he explains. "We've got USGA spec greens and we always solid tine." Last year Neill used Headland's new fungicide Throttle for the first time, and this year he's sticking with it. "I bought a set of Sarel Rollers last year and once the greens have been sprayed I know I can safely roll them and overseed. I've found that this fungicide gives me nearly two months coverage."
As an added precaution Neill takes the grass up to 4mm and keeps it there right through the winter. "The longer the grass, the more likely you are to create a micro climate under the canopy which is the perfect environment to nurture disease," he maintains. "We aerate monthly. I've got four greens that are very tight in the trees and I try to get the air in them and keep them dry."
Alongside his stringent aeration programme Neill uses a modified amino acid product and by early March, as the greens approach a renewed threat of fusarium attack he is ready to apply a second application of Throttle. "This product keeps the greens clean for a good eight weeks," he says "and we come into May with no scarring at all."
For further information on Throttle fungicide contact Headland Amenity on Tel: 01223 597834 or visit their website at: www.headlandamenity.com