Greenkeepers Report February 2020
Rain, rain and more rain!
There is only one place to start with this report, and that is with the amount of rain we have had. I must say it has been truly awful and I don’t remember a year where it has rained for such a prolonged period with the amounts we have had. It doesn’t seem to have stopped raining since last September and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight either!
For comparison in January and February 2019 we had 20mm and 37mm of rain (2 ¼”). In 2020 we had 65mm in January and so far, 108mm in February, or 7” of rain in two months!!! At the time of writing this, we have had 56 days in 2020, and on 31 of those days, it has rained.
However, we are doing very well compared to other courses in the area, who either have limited holes open or have a carry only policy in place. More often than not we are fully open, on main greens and trolleys are permitted. We have only shut the course for 3 days all year, and that was after 45mm of rain in two days.
We did manage to get the entire course cut on the week commencing 3rd Feb, and I’m glad we did, as it hasn’t stopped raining since then and we would be up to our knees in the grass if we hadn’t. I appreciate we need to get back out again with the mowers and as soon as the course is dry enough, we will.
Each year we test the soil in four greens, two on the front 9 (4th and 8th) and two on the back 9 (10th and 18th), to find the levels of the micro-nutrients in order to formulate a purpose-made feed program for the course. The micro-nutrients we test for are: Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Sulphur, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Organic Matter and the pH of the soil. Each of these has a role to play in the health of the plant and the levels need to be correct to achieve the best results.
I am pleased to say that generally the results are very good and spot on where they should be, we are slightly low in Potassium but nothing to be concerned about, this level has been low for years and we can tell from the results that this level is improving each year.
The pH is also slightly high, but as with the Potassium, we can see this level reducing, especially since we have stopped using the borehole water.
Overall the greens are in very good health, they drain very well, and the nutrient make of the greens is in good order. We do have issues with disease on a few greens but already this is beginning to recover and with the planned maintenance work I can see them recovering very quickly.
I plan to vertidrain the greens next week; this is where we spike the greens to a depth of 7” with 10mm solid tines. Not only does this makes holes for the water to penetrate the surface drying the greens out faster, but it creates space for air to get down into the soil which in turn helps the soil biology within the soil and also creates areas for the roots to penetrate deeper into the soil, creating a healthier plant.
Maintenance week we shall core the greens. This is when we remove a core 12mm wide, 3” deep and 2” spacing from the greens. This helps remove thatch build-up, reduces compaction, helps airflow within the soil, aids roots growth, we also add a ‘root’ feed which directly reaches the roots and finally topdress with sand. All in all, it’s s a breath of fresh air for the greens and gives them a real boost ready for the summer.
Winter construction projects
I am extremely pleased with the results of the bunker drainage we installed on the 1st and 14th bunkers. These were always flooded and now, even with all the rain we have had, they have never puddled and always been in play.
We have also cleared out all of the ditches around the course, we have seen the water flowing faster which will also help with draining the course as the water can get away faster. The rain we have had has also highlighted other areas we need to improve around the course; the business is keen to keep investing and improving the course and we will look at improving the necessary areas at the end of the year.
The high winds also damaged several trees, the one big tree at the end of the 6th fairways had a big limb break off last June, and half of the tree came down a few weeks ago. This left a very rotten limb with a huge fungus growing from it, so we had no choice but to removed it completely. We planted 7 trees last year and I have another 4 to plant. I appreciate when a big tree comes down it leaves a big gap, but we do try and plant a replacement tree. These are saplings so they are not so visible, but they are out there.