A nutrient programme from Headland Amenity, tailored to the low input greens on the heathland course of Limpsfield Chart Golf Club, has improved the playing surfaces and helped the greenkeeping team cope with challenging weather conditions.
Limpsfield Chart Golf Club was established in 1889 and is the fourth oldest club in Surrey and offers members challenging golf on a heathland course. Course manager Rob Purll came to the club in 2012, and his goals have been to regenerate the characteristic heather and improve the playing surfaces.
Rob explains, "There was some thatch and a number of bare areas, plus the playing surface was a little slow. However, using cultural methods and a programme put together, with help from Headland Amenity, to boost turf health and encourage favourable grasses, we are already seeing improvements.
When Rob first came to Limpsfield Chart GC he investigated what greens feeding and disease management products where available on the market. But a chance conversation with a colleague at his former club, Wildernesse GC, led him to Headland Amenity. Rob again, "I met with Headland's regional manager Andy Ward and we walked the course a couple of times.
The natural turf features a lot of fine grasses including bents and fescues, but the greens were effectively shaved out of this ground. I was keen to adopt a 'lean' regime to favour them and Andy took that on board before taking soil samples and putting together a specific programme to meet our needs."
He went on, "We use little nitrogen, so a liquid feed is ideal to give control over the nutrients applied and we do not irrigate. I have overseeded twice since I came to the club and followed a low input regime. Poa content is now about 80 per cent, which we are looking to reduce year on year."
Nutrients are provided by N-sure slow release nitrogen fertiliser and Solufeed, mixed with Seamac Ultra (summer) and ProTurf turf hardener (autumn through to the spring), together with TE-Mag plant elicitor to enhance the sward's resistance to disease. "We put this on every couple of weeks depending on the conditions, and the tournament programme, and find that it gives consistent quality and maintains plant health at times of stress," Rob said. Headlands programme also called for C-Complex organic mineral fertiliser after hollow tining to offer great recovery after turf renovation. The addition of Vertex K is also used when a quick response is needed.
Promoting turf health was key to helping prevent fungal disease, with the wet summer and autumn increasing disease pressure. Rob says the humidity was a big issue in 2012 and the amount of Poa in the greens meant that Fusarium was always a risk. A big issue for him was to avoid scarring, especially when they had imminent tournaments.
Blanket sprays of preventatives were used in May and June after which they did not have to treat again until February - there was no sign of Fusarium. Liquid iron was used to harden the turf before two applications of the fungicides Throttle and Surpass Pro. He adds that after an application in June 2012 no further fungicide was needed for the rest of the year, but a decision to use Throttle and Surpass Pro in January 2013 proved wise as it preceded heavy snow and avoided an outbreak of disease.
"We work closely with Headland," says Rob. "Their programme is straightforward to use - plant hardeners and stress tonics from April to August, with seaweed based products and turf hardeners singled out as the most important for our low nitrogen regime. Andy will pop in to see the results of a treatment and there is always help at the end of a phone line." The results are faster greens at 10-11 on the stimpmeter, with turf quality improved significantly.
Limpsfield Chart GC now feels on a par with the other leading clubs in the area which they see as an important transition. The members are amazed at what has been achieved and it is now common practice for Rob to hear comments that the greens have never been better.
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