The below average rainfall continued through August which has continued to keep the course in relatively good shape through a period when we are typically used to seeing some very wet course conditions. It was only during the period from the 19th -23rd of August where an inch (26mm) of rain fell which saw a temporary removal of carts but this was short lived as a return to mild and dry weather closely followed. With the temperatures starting to warm up there has already been a noticeable change in growing conditions and the couch grass has a nice green tinge which promises to see a significant shift in how the course plays over the month of September.
With the warmer than average weather we begun seeing an increase in growth on our greens and with that we made the decision to renovate earlier than what we typically would. By doing this it will see our greens fully recovered by the end of September giving all golfers a longer window through the warmer months to enjoy nice putting surfaces to play from.
This was the first time we have renovated greens without relying on contractors which not only saved us several thousand dollars in costs but gave us the freedom to undertake these jobs at a time that suited us. This also allowed us to pick a time when weather conditions were ideal which played a huge part in helping us complete the work in a respectable timeframe while also making the greens recovery process faster due to having perfect temperatures for grass growth. If you compare this to back in March where we were forced to undertake coring in extremely wet conditions the positives of being able to choose the right time is hugely beneficial for the greens recovery and overall playability.
In regards to the nutrition that we added it was quite different from the past few years. Upon taking over as superintendent five years ago our greens were heavily deficient in phosphorous which is the key nutrient in assisting root health/growth and a vital component to healthy turf. Through a vigorous program that saw us needing to drop the PH levels to allow the Phosphorous to become available within the soil, we now have them at a perfect level meaning we can now apply this nutrient more at a maintenance level.
Potassium continues to be a key focus and we applied this at higher rates than Nitrogen to help conquer the deficiencies we face in K levels. Potassium is very mobile in soils which means it leaches through much more quickly then other nutrients making a continual struggle to maintain the appropriate amounts. With potassium being vital for plant strength it’s an extremely important nutrient to manage correctly and this is even more paramount for golf greens which are continually stressed from constant low cutting and high amounts of traffic.
With the greens being in such good shape prior to renovations and weather conditions being ideal both during and post coring I expect us to be returning to excellent putting surfaces by the end of September.
Im sure some would have noticed a distinct ‘’yellowing’’ of the winter grass in the couch grass areas over the last few weeks after we sprayed a herbicide to eradicate these grasses. This will ultimately help the santa ana grow free from competing grasses allowing it to spread and dominate the turf surface which is exactly what we want.
Although the santa ana hasn’t started growing yet the noticeable color change over the past week is a clear indication that the growing season isn’t far away and this will have a positive impact on playing conditions as the next few weeks go by.
We now plan to start doing some small renovations to tees and high traffic areas in surrounds which will be a similar process to greens. Being that these areas are quite large it will likely take us several weeks to complete this work and will only be done when we can fit it into the schedule. We will look to punch 14mm solid tines into these areas to help alleviate the heavy compaction that the soil in these areas have accumulated over many decades which will help with drainage and healthier roots. This will be the first time we have renovated these areas which promises to have some really positive impacts on these playing surfaces as the months and years go by that we continue to do this.
With winter out of the way we look forward to the course conditions improving and some great golfing weather to enjoy over the next month.