After taking over as course manager in March I was expecting a pretty ‘normal’ year.. little did I know I’d be taking over just in time for one of the wettest March on record and add snow into that equation and let’s say my first month was incredibly tough, since then we have had the wettest May on record and the driest period since 1976 and is still currently going, I think there’s a possibility that I’m cursed!
The period of rain and snow did hold back some winter work on the greens and bunkers as it was too wet for any machinery but we carried these out in May and June.
Since we are still in one of the most severe droughts to date I have changed the way my team is organised and have a member of the team do a split shift so that we can carry out watering in the evening once the temperatures have cooled down, this helps the plant take up as much water as possible without it burning off instantly, and again in the morning we water greens to keep the plant cool for the morning, this has helped tremendously and I’d wish to thank my team for their dedication in getting this done.
In spite of the dry weather I keep being told how receptive the greens are, it is hard work but I am pleased that the members and guests appreciate the end product.
Unfortunately our greens watering routine is not leaving much room for other areas to be watered, we do water tees and selected green surrounds on a daily basis during the day but because of the recent heat some of the water that goes in does evaporate hence why the tees and surrounds have struggled.
Going forward, I have various concerns and wanted to share these with you and explain what I intend to do to in anticipation:
- There are parts of the course that may not recover once the rain does arrive again, the main problems will be the walk on walk off areas and the cracks that have appeared on the fairways, the grass itself doesn’t usually die during drought periods but simply sleeps so I am sure most of this will be fine as long as we get some rain fairly soon and the cracks we intent to fill with rootzone so that when we eventually do have some wet weather it will close up without any issues. When we get a bit of rain, I will clear areas of the course that have clearly died and reseed ASAP, in the hope it recovers before the winter comes. It should give us 2 months of growth for the new grass to come through. You may therefore see some roped off areas on surrounds and even fairways.
- When the rainy season starts again (I thought the rainy season was 12 months of the year in this country, it seems not!) from September (fingers crossed it will start earlier…), we will be facing another challenge: grass disease. With the plant so weak and under stress after the lack of rain, it is very likely we will see disease spread throughout the course. We can expect anthracnose, fusarium, dollar spot and even fairy ring.
We have kept the greens as healthy as we could, but I am still expecting to be hit. With the new ban on Iprodione which is a preventative and curative for the likes of fusarium patch, and other grass diseases we will be in unchartered territory and it will all be about keeping the plant healthy, getting oxygen to the roots, help reduce the amount of thatch in the greens and in general keep the Ph as neutral as we can.
This latter point takes me to the coring planned for August. I am still going to do it, although I will do it slightly differently than expected. I have ordered the sand to dress the greens and I will hire in some machinery to help me carry this out within the week, to limit disruption to a minimum. I expect the recovery to take 2 to 3 weeks. So from week starting 20th August, I will be grateful if Members and Guests understand that we have to get the job done and some of the greens will be worked on as you play. If you are in a match, you can always agree that you get 2 putts once you reach the green and move to the next hole.
I will look at carrying out smaller maintenance projects through the winter, although these should not affect play as much.
If you wish to make comments on some of the points in this blog or ask me questions, please feel free to do so on this page.
I will take this opportunity to once again thank everyone for the kind comments and the support I have received since March.