This is our first course up date from our Head Green keeper. Updates will come out fornightly through out the year to keep you updated on whats going on.
As I write this update the course is closed again due to very wet weather which seems to be a repetitive theme through the autumn and winter season. Too much water and not enough dry time in between doesn’t allow drying out time sufficiently enough for the weight of water to dissipate and the drainage channels to open ready for the next deluge! We find ourselves constantly fighting the weather conditions and essential and good maintenance practice. Only last year we were in semi drought conditions and not enough rain fell over the winter period to fill the aquifers along with hard frosts and course closures due to snow 23rd Jan-2nd Feb thereabouts, a very different early winter. It’s at times like this that I have to remind myself that comparing the playability of the course under these extreme circumstances to previous years is very misleading and now with ever more evident climate change it is far better to deal with the conditions as they present themselves.
Picking the right time to do essential maintenance is critical when even the forecasters can’t seem to forecast weather and that old saying of making hay when the sun shines often comes into play. Sometimes maintenance has to be done on a weather break when normally it wouldn’t and we have to accept that some damage will be done in order to keep the course open and playable, especially with higher than normal temperatures and good grass growth!
The changeable conditions and the reduction and banning of chemical management is presenting wider issues like the worm casts on a few fairways and a different approach will be needed to reduce the conditions that the worms like and encourage the casting ones to stop. Gone are the days when a chemical can be sprayed to stop the worms casting and a physical approach will be now needed over the next seasons to reduce their impact.
The greens have been managed for over a year now biologically (the old way) rather than chemically due to the banning of chemicals and the reduction of active ingredients. One side effect was the fusarium bloom which has scarred the greens, effectively the chemical use over the years had suppressed the fungus and with then the perfect fungus growing conditions from September a huge bloom appeared with all of those previously suppressed spores growing in a massive bloom. Once the bloom was killed it left small bare patches and scars on the greens that will repair without problem in the growing season and hopefully that will be the last massive bloom we get in autumn.
Generally the biological management is working very well with good grass coverage and replacement of annual meadow grass with bents and fescues that are more disease resistant and drought tolerant and now we are not reliant on putting chemical fertilisers and cures on our greens.
This time of year one of the most important jobs is to lift the overhanging branches around the course and open up the canopy so that balls can be found and that machines can cut into the longer grass. With a little bit of good weather we will be re-sanding bunkers and re-seeding the surrounds but that may be some time yet.
Finally we are fortunate that the course drains fairly well and we can open quickly after the repetitive rain torrents but it’s far from ideal conditions and good golfing, with standing water, muddy fairways and wet and spongy greens but I have to remind myself it is January in one of the wettest periods we have had for some time.