21 May 2018 – Feeding Selections And Performance Testing.

A Course Manager’s role varies from day to day. One of the most fun aspects is assessing the surfaces and collating performance in order to select what cultural practices will come together in order to maximize the performance of the turf.

Today was no exception, when  mixing fertiliser, the beauty of applying nutrients in liquid form is the fact that you can adjust rates of each product to suit the needs of the surfaces at that particular time. In this mix we applied Primo at a 150% more than usual to burn off poa seed heads and slow growth, pushing the grass plant out to create better cover. The Praxys in the mix is a herbicide to kill any new pearlwort weeds that are coming through. Consolidate is a fertiliser that has a nirtogen source that gives the plant food very subtly and steady over a longer period of time, SOA or Sulphate of Ammonia is a nitrogen source that gives the plant a quick feed, Elevate Fe is a liquid iron and nitrogen that is available fast and gives the grass plant colour via Iron, all of these fertilisers are all spoon fed, which means they offer very small amounts of food to the plant, in this instance 4kg of Nitrogen over 1 hectare (roughly the size of a football pitch), we aim for around 50kg a year. The note below would be a typical note passed on to the spray technician on the morning of the application.

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Performance testing is something that has been touched on during previous blog posts. Every year we have our organic matter levels tested around now, the cores are sent off to the labs at the STRI (Sports Turf Research Institute) and the results come back along with a visit from them in July. We have steadily reduced levels of organic matter by around 1% a year, 4 years ago we were as high as 10% OM in the top 20mm which causes all sorts of problems: soft greens, poor drainage, disease, poor roll, too much poa annua amongst other things. We are aiming to hit targets of around 4% so there is still some way to go with greens averaging around 6.4%. We do feel that the more we decrease the organic matter the better the greens become. We do this through applying topdressing. the levels could have been reduced a lot sooner however we do have a busy diary and we feel that is important not to disrupt golf too much with heavy sand applications, we are a golf course at the end of the day. a wet winter and spring could well mean that we haven’t reduced OM quite as much as we would have liked however we will keep up the same strategy as it has been successful so far.

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The greens that we test are the putting green, 6,15,18. Along with this we test speed,  moisture, smoothness and firmness each month and the data is recorded to see how they are progressing.

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The spreadsheet shows us the month of May. It is evident that the 15th and 18th greens are a little behind when it comes to reducing the OM however they are performing well in other areas. The spreadsheet has been set up using conditional formatting so certain numbers create coloured boxes which makes it easy to see how good or how bad something is.

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These targets change with the seasons, for example, it would be unrealistic to be looking for the same firmness in January which is generally a wet month with short days and very little evaporation, to that of August which is generally very dry.

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16th May 2018 – Rough and Rescue Work

After a horrendously cold and wet winter we have had a short spell of warm weather at the start of May which has accelerated the growth. With all of they cutting and collecting, burning and Rescue work we are now seeing a massive improvement in playability and general aesthetic appeal. This area to the right of the 1st hole would be completely unplayable 6 years ago. even though it may look thick in this photo it is not, a ball can be thrown in and every time the ball can be found as there is no lush bottom growth, they are now thin and whispy. Any areas that remain a little thicker will be topped off with a strimmer.

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The definition is fantastic at this time of year, fescue seed heads usually turn white round about August which adds another look to the roughs. Currently all of our hights of cuts are as follows:

Greens Pedestrian – 4.75mm,

Greens Triple – 4mm,

Tees -6mm

Fairways – 10mm

Rough – 35mm

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The roughs have been drilled with an ultrafine dwarf rye grass and thickened out with Urea which gives them a slow steady growth. In the picture below we can see an area that has been sprayed with rescue and on the right an area that has been missed:

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The area on the right looks like it has been cut however it has not. the Yorkshire Fog is hampering any nice fescues that would have pushed through the sward and grown tall. The left side is exactly what we are looking for. a half shot penalty but the golf ball should be found in most cases.

 

15th May 2018 – One Giant Leep!

This week Keith ventured in to the unknown this week and pulled the engine out of our Toro HDX utility vehicle to make a repair inside the gear box. a pin that connects to the clutch lever had snapped. Keith is not a trained mechanic however he thrives on challenges like this. This is quite a complex job as there are a lot of pipes and cables that need disconnected and re connected along the way. The entire job was a huge success and the machine was up and running a day later at very little expense.

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Keith is constantly surprising us with all of the new tasks he takes on and has been the key to the teams success over the past few years. He now spends 90% of his time in the workshop making sure all of the machines are well serviced, clean and maintained. He is responsible for setting all of the machines for cutting which means we can maintain a consistent standard through out the year. Keith also maintains accurate records on each machine so we can see how they perform and how much money is spent in order to help  us come to a decision when certain machines need replacing. He is also a dab hand at grinding and attends courses to enhance his skill set. We would be lost without him!

14th May 2018 – Nick Machin’s Talk

Today Nick went to Berkshire College of Agriculture to deliver a talk to some students on his experience before, during and after winning the Toro Student Greenkeeper of The Year. The closing date for this years competition if the 18th of May, another student will have the opportunity that Nick had which is potentially life changing.

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Nick’s public speaking is fantastic and he has now delivers a few since winning the competition, this is an essential attribute in golf course management and we are hoping Nick carries on delivering more talks on different subjects mixing stories with facts and humour.