Thursday, March 24, 2011

Practice green

As mentioned last week the Bentgrass practice green is under an enormous amount of stress from its location and traffic wear and tear and it has got to the stage now that the green is now closed to all play.  This late burst of hot summer type temperatures and humidity hasn't helped and I could see no alternative to closing the green.  As a greenkeeper there is nothing worse than watching one of your greens slowly going backwards and this has been the case with the practice green over the past few weeks.  The green is in desperate need of a renovation but the temperatures are still way too high to allow this just yet.

The West greens in general are struggling with this recent weather and the 120mm of rain we received last week end wasn't much help.  As soon as the weather cools, the West greens will be deep tyne aerated to allow some much needed air to get to the root zone. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Encroachment 5

I have had a few comments about the foreign grasses that are appearing in the West course greens which I did mention a couple of posts ago.  It is a perennial problem at this time of year when the Bent greens are at their weakest after a long hard summer and the invading grasses are at their healthiest and therefore more prominent.  This is particularly the case with the encroaching Couchgrass which is at its worst at this time.  Its a bit like "groundhog day" as this problem is raised at this time every year and a quick perusal of old Course Committee minutes demonstrates this.  I actually have a copy of minutes from 1980 (March 1980 by coincidence) that mention the encroachment of Couchgrass and even contains  a recommendation to convert all greens to 328!!  In years gone by the method used at CTHGC was to fumigate and either re-turf or re-sow the entire green and this would require a temporary green to be in play for anywhere up to 16 weeks.  Fumigation is not available now so either a total kill spraying program or re-construction would need to take place, meaning even a longer period of interruption to play.  I have adopted a containment strategy on the West greens as there is no one product that can selectively remove Couchgrass, in particular, from Bent greens without causing damage.  As mentioned a couple of posts ago the Bent greens are under enough stress and the addition of weed control products would only put more pressure on them.   A lot of encroachment information was covered in posts last year and you can quite easily refer back to them for more information.

And whilst speaking of Bentgrass under stress there is no other green at Cool Tweed under more stress than the Bentgrass practice green, especially now that the fan at the 17th West seems to have had the desired result.  The practice green has a total area of just 225 sq metres with only 182 of that available to be cupped, which is probably about 15% of what it should be.  The green is in an incredibly tough position with the massive trees to the south competing for air, moisture and nutrients and preventing air circulation.  The retaining wall also reflects an enormous amount of light and heat and then you have the volume of traffic that the green is subjected to.  We are regularly quizzed on why there are only two holes on the green and the reason is simply wear and tear.  Each hole location has a severe wear area around it of 16 sq metres (4 x 4 square if you like).  That means that there are a total of twelve possible hole locations on the green and the holes are moved every second day meaning every sixth day we need to go back to a worn area.  The amount of wear that the green receives does vary, but last Sunday for some reason, the green was nearly worn out around the holes and as of today has still not recovered, which reduces even further our positions available for cupping.
Wider view of wear from last Sunday

Close up view

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Growth Regulator

We use a growth regulator during the summer months particularly on the fairways but also on greens on both courses.  The fairways are treated monthly from about September thru to April.  Indeed they are just receiving the final application for this year.  The growth regulator has a number of benefits such as;
  • Eliminating seedhead.
  • Reducing vertical turf growth by approximately 60% whilst using plant energy and resources to encourage side shoots and particularly the root system.
  • Fines the leaf of the turf plant down which results in an improved surface and a smoother ball roll on the greens.
  • Reduces clippings meaning a much cleaner mowing job.
  • Reduces mowing frequency.  We can get away with as little as two mowings per week on the fairways.
  • Reduced mowing frequency means less fuel used and with diesel fuel on the rise the savings are considerable.
  • Assists in keeping thatch under control.
  • Improved colour.
The photos below show a strip that was missed and the resultant effect on the surface and the appearance of the turf.

Missed strip on 18th River fairway

Close up of missed area scalped and unsightly

The product is also used on greens and although the difference is not as pronounced on the surface as on the fairways, it is an integral part of greenkeeping, especially on the Couch River greens.  On the Bentgrass West greens the product assists in keeping Wintergrass (Poa annua) under contol as well as assisting root growth.  The photo below shows the effect that the product has on Bentgrass roots with the turf plug at the top of the photo treated and the bottom untreated.

Effect of growth regulator on Bentgrass roots

The tees have responded well to the recent fertiliser and have a great cover of grass heading towards winter.  The downside of this is the Wood Ducks feeding on the lush turf and the resultant droppings.  This is one of the reasons I try not to overfeed the golf course because as soon as there is any juicy turf available the ducks are straight on to it and as they are one of the most prolific spreaders of weed seeds, we then create another problem for ourselves with weed eradication.

Wood Ducks feeding on 13 west tee

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Another week

Well the weather just held out for the work that was planned this week but as is so often the case not everything went to plan.  The removal of tree roots on 11 and 16 River tees would have been a major job once some initial excavation took place and it is too late in the season for that type of work so they have been put on the spring "to do" list.  The drainage pits on the 6th River dam went in quite nicely though they took a lot more time than I had planned which then delayed other works planned for the day.  The pits got a nice workout on Thursday night with 45mm of rain falling in quite a hurry with no wash evident.  Time ran out to be able to investigate the sink holes on the 8th River fairway but we have already repaired some other sink holes there and pretty much know what to expect and may finish up having to replace the entire pipe.  Another for the "to do" list!  We did get some tree trimming done on the chute at the 13th River tee and the tee will be turfed on Monday along with the buggy path run off at the 9th River tee which gets badly affected by tidal waters which we are hoping to have diverted away from this area with a small bund.

9th River tee

The weather towards the end of the week wasn't conducive to photography so hopefully I will get a chance to take some photos so as to be able to report on the growth regulator as promised last week.

The River greens have been fertilised again and should show some strong growth in the next few weeks and the tees were also fertilised just in time to take advantage of the rain on Thursday night so they should also show some good growth in readiness for the onset of winter.

There has been a virtual explosion in the spread of "Mullumbimby Couchgrass" in the West greens and in particular the practice green.  Two treatments have had nil effect so far and further treatment is planned.  Successful treatment can take up to two weeks and you can't afford to panic and put too much product on the Bent greens at this time of year....they are under enough stress already.  "Mullum" Couch is a member of the Sedge family of plants and is a particularly difficult weed to control.

"Mullum" Couchgrass