GENERAL ASSESSMENT: –
- Putting surfaces were uniform in density and quality.
- Colour was generally pale.
- Surfaces were fairly smooth though not yet up to the standard expected for summer play. With weather conditions improving a spring feed should generate a rapid change in appearance. Putts that were observed ran well with little movement
- Moss has invaded some areas where the grass is weaker; control with iron has been started though we now have no chemicals that actually kill the moss and spores. It is thus important to deal with the reasons why the moss is present. This often involves dealing with shade or air flow but can sometimes be thatch and weak turf.
- The greens were firm and well drained.
- There was some light disease scarring.
- Organic levels were within the 1-2cm range with 1cm being the depth on most greens. The 4th and 7th both had slightly more organic matter and warrant additional aeration this year.
- A few new white roots were noted, to about 12cm depth but the ground has not yet warmed sufficiently for steady growth to be evident.
- Improved thatch removal is recommended in some areas.
- Additional overseeding to get better results and increase the rate at which bentgrass develops.
- The most obvious feature of the tees was the increased level of wear, including the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 15th.
- Adjacent to several tees we have the results of concentrated traffic and I such areas a hard path is probably the most cost effective solution, grass will not survive in these areas.
- Some of the forward tees were becoming mossy and had a heavier thatch, due to lower levels of play.
- Par 3 holes in particular are heavily damaged as a result of level of play.
- Some damage to tees is still caused by trees, the 3rd and 18th in particular. Abergele Golf Club.
- Surrounds to the 17th are being developed and should add to the general standard of presentation.
- The Course in general was well presented and like many others at this time is only just beginning to respond to warmer conditions. There were no major problems and where damage was noted it was generally in areas where traffic concentrates into narrow areas and grass cannot cope. This was noted on entrances to bridge crossings for example on the 18th.
- To the right of the 5th green we noted a Chestnut tree that has rotted internally, there are bracket fungi at the base and this tree is now a health and safety risk so should be felled as soon as possible.
Overall the Course is developing well and each year I can see an improvement and a greater level of maturity. In past years the bent grass sub-species has decreased as it is not suited to this area and Poa has invaded, as it does everywhere. We are now trying to restore bentgrass in the greens using a different sub-species of bent and there are good signs that seedlings have established in most of the greens.
The grass population is primarily meadow grass and the percentage can be easily seen at present because this grass is paler in colour whereas the bent retains its colour much better and the leaves are already growing. This grass does not present the best all year round surfaces but is acceptable in good weather conditions. Unfortunately, it is the greatest cause of thatch and demands a higher chemical input than other grasses because it is more vulnerable to disease.
For the longer term we should continue to target improving the type of grass in the greens.
The maintenance programme is already suitable for bentgrass development and we have good drainage in the greens. There are just a few areas where we might be able to make slight changes to help speed up progress.
We can accelerate the rate at which bentgrass takes over the greens if we can increase the number of times we overseed.
We should use about 2-3g/m2 of bentgrass seed each time we overseed, more seed per operation would be counter productive because the grass seedlings would simply compete with each other as well as the established grasses. Bentgrass needs reasonable weather for germination and establishment and so there is little point in adding seed before mid May. The seed can be bulked with sand if necessary to aid seeding. There are many good cultivars that should be suitable, Sefton, Heriot, Egmont, Bardot etc. Darren might like to consider these as he is not seeing good results from Aberoyal.
If we can only seed once per year the most successful and cost effective time would be late August/early September when conditions are usually good and this also allows the height of cut to be raised about three weeks later and members should accept this as they can see the greens are being prepared for winter. Seeding after this time is less likely to produce good results because light Abergele Golf Club.
conditions deteriorate and also because having germinated the seedlings need several weeks to establish if they are to survive winter. For example a seeding in late September will be in cooler conditions, germination will be slower, say 4 weeks, and will be into duller, colder weather.
is high that growing conditions will be poor and most of the seed will fail.
Multiple overseeding can be helpful but the seed will not establish well unless the height of cut can be kept up, certainly to around 4.5-5mm. This would usually mean a loss of pace unless the triplex or the rollers are used to roll the greens to compensate for the extra height. We have used Primo in the past to slow growth, reduce competition for the seedlings and also to help to retain pace when the grass is allowed to grow longer. If we seed the greens on several occasions and continue to use Primo we may slow down the growth rate of the new seedlings but this could help establishment by keeping it short and below the height of the mower blades.
Add seed to the surface around the old hole plug after hole changing, spike lightly with a nail-board first of all. Primo. This has been very helpful to improve density and slow growth. Slower growth means less thatch being formed and better speed as well as helping seedling establishment by reducing competition from existing grass.
If we follow the programme of Primo on the greens we can spray every 2 or every 4 weeks, whichever is most convenient. The rate is either 400ml or 200ml. Many greenkeepers last year suggested that spraying every 2 weeks gave better results. If the programme is interrupted it is still worth spraying just before overseeding, to reduce growth and competition, use 300ml/ha about 5 days before seeding if you simply wish to have a quick effect to help seeding and germination. With regard to when to start the Primo the best way to think about the greens is to wait until soil temperatures are at 10oC and rising but also to wait until the greens have fully recovered from any winter scarring or mechanical work otherwise the Primo will slow down the rate at which the greens improve.
The greens should improve quickly after they receive their first feed.
- As mentioned above we should err on the side of cutting higher if the finer grasses are to be able to survive. Poa annua is much more adapted to very short mowing and where we cut at less than 4.0mm this grass will always be dominant.
- If acceptable to members, continue to cut at 4-4.5mm minimum, use Primo and roll to maintain reasonable pace without cutting closer. This will give the bents a chance to survive. If height has to go down lower than this we shall lose some of the bents but restore the height again as soon a possible and triplex roll instead of cutting shorter if that helps.
- Verticutting will be necessary where we have dense Poa because its lushness slows down the greens. Verticut to thin the sward but if the density is not excessive, it isn’t at present, avoid verticutting. 3-4 passes per year should be adequate for the greens at present if the remainder of the programme goes ahead.
Abergele Golf Club
- As bentgrass levels improve it should only be necessary to verticut where we have to lift long bentgrass leaves into the mower blades to get a cleaner cut. Some small patches of bent tend to become a little coarse and woody at the base and this may create bobbly surfaces but verticutting doesn’t always solve this problem. I would rather use frequent brushing instead of the verticuts though it may take a little longer to improve the clumpy patches of bentgrass.
- The only exception to this would be if the new Fine Turf verticut units from Greentek are tested. Greentek have brought out the new units because they are much gentler on the grass surface and are much safer to use than the usual verticuts. I also attach a note on the triplex brush.
- The target has to be a sensible feeding programme that gives the grass sufficient nutrients to maintain health and to be able to recover from traffic and damage.
- The target feeding level should continue to be around the 100-140kg level but this figure is not cast in stone and can be changed as conditions demand. The best guide to nitrogen levels remains as Darren’s eyes. Nitrogen should be applied to maintain condition and health without over stimulating the grass and will probably be around the above level most years.
- Potassium is difficult to retain in the root zone because it is free draining and levels seen in the test results confirm this. This is not a problem provided the necessary amount of potassium is applied when the plant needs it. Keeping potassium levels a little higher during the summer stress periods can help against Anthracnose disease and it will also help against drought and cold stresses. Overall target a potassium application that is about 50% higher than the nitrogen level being applied.
- USGA greens usually benefit from a light dressing of phosphate but this is best applied at a time when root growth is at its maximum, usually may and then again in September. If applied just before overseeding it will also help seedling establishment.
- It is important not to stress the grass by reducing feeding levels too much because this causes loss of quality and affects everyday golf. Whilst colour isn’t important it can influence how visiting golfers assess your surfaces.
- Choice of fertiliser can be important and to continue favouring bents rather than Poa. The programme is now set and appears to work well.
- Seaweed is important to encourage root growth and microorganism activity. It also contains trace elements and should be a routine part of the programme. All greens should receive trace elements as a routine, probably via the main feeds but if not we should use a trace element package, e.g. Scott’s STEP at 7-8g/m2. Topdressing.
- The aim is to apply frequent but very light topdressings to maintain good surface levels, firmness and dryness without smothering the turf.
Abergele Golf Club
- The topdressing programme is an essential part of managing organic matter as well as greens speed and consistency.
- We don’t want to risk adding a layer of topdressing above the organic layer and so topdressing should routinely be after aeration. This will get the dressing inside the organic layer and will help to keep the thatch open and improve its decay.
- With the 4th and 7th greens we found a little more organic matter than on the other 16 greens. These greens should receive more aeration to prevent topdressing protecting the thatch against removal.
- Regular brushing to lift prostrate grasses and also to aerate the surface, the Turfwork striplex brush is an improvement over existing brushes because it doesn’t require extra time and an extra machine to do the work. Over a short period it will cover its costs by reducing labour costs. It costs about £1600. It is worth a trial.
- Aeration should continue throughout the year as it is essential to get air down to the roots, to get water off the surface and down to the roots as well as to break up organic matter. With a light layer of thatch on all greens it is important to keep this open for air and water movement.
- Aeration has to target different depths if it is to achieve all that we expect from it. To maintain the greens we should target aeration at least monthly throughout the year. Pencil or micro tines can be used to keep the surface open but holes from micro hollow tines last longer than those from solid tines.
- The Vertidrain has a good range of tines including 8/9mm diameter tines that are long but not disruptive and don’t need to be used with heave. They are ideal for deep summer and winter work.
- Using a Sarel Roller type aerator every 1-2 weeks will also help to get air and moisture down to the roots.
- Whilst most greens have just about the right level of organic matter on the surface we have two, the 4th and 7th, that have a little too much. These gall greens should be aerated using the micro hollow tines but the two wetter greens should have additional treatments to reduce the thatch level to 1cm like the other greens. This probably means 2-3 passes with the micro hollow tines this year, at least on the lower sections of the two greens.
- One or two high spots were discussed because they appear to be drying out quickly. Such areas can be helped if a water retentive material is added. Axis, Profile or Zeolite will improve water retention but also aeration and should help to retain grass on such slopes and high spots but will also improve drainage in low areas.
Abergele Golf Club. Wetting Agent.
- Wetting agent to maintain a uniformly wetted profile, we get better results if this programme is started early in the year while the rootzone is uniformly moist after winter rains. Some fungal mycelium was noted in the rootzone and you may need to use “Clearing” on any greens with a fairy ring/thatch fungus history. This is simply a complex wetting agent that can kill thatch fungi and fairy rings. It is costly so only worth using if the rings we discussed become a problem. The alternative is a wetting agent and heritage combination with two treatments four weeks apart, again this is only if the problem worsens.
- Rolling can be used to maintain pace while the grass is allowed to grow a little longer to help seed germination and establishment. Two or three passes per week should not cause harm to the grass, particularly if you use sand topdressing. During periods of slow growth roll instead of cutting. This is a way to reduce stress in greens but maintain pace for golfers.
- Fusarium disease creates bare areas but the weather conditions of last year favoured the disease and many clubs sprayed 3-4 times after disease appeared. It is not good practice, and it is very expensive, to spray several preventatives just in case disease attacks. Far better to first apply good management to try to avoid disease.
- Maintaining balanced nitrogen and potassium is the first step, particularly with potassium being used at times when stress might encourage disease. Anthracnose is a risk but the disease is spread in early summer even though symptoms often only appear later on when the grass is stressed. Maintaining a generous height of cut and adequate potassium is an excellent start in the programme to avoid the disease.
- I would not wish to apply a preventative just in case we get disease but if 2009 is another very wet year I would apply a preventative, Syngenta’s Instrata is a new combination of three very effective products that work systemically and as a contact and should prevent most of the damage.
- Dollar Spot. Balanced feeding should avoid the greatest risk but this disease does appear on areas where nutrient levels are low. Irrigating in the early morning can help by reducing the period of leaf wetness. If necessary spray with Banner Maxx or Instrata.
- Grass cover was poor on most of those we checked and the main requirement for these is a complete overseeding, already planned by Darren, using a fine leaved rye for quick effect.
- The par 3 holes suffer most of all and would benefit from increased divot filling. If golfers are keen to maintain their course they should be prepared to use divot boxes. These boxes can be refilled every Friday, the old divot mix being spread by staff onto the tees before the box is refilled.
- Otherwise selective weed control, a balanced feed, routine aeration as for greens, and divot repair cover the main needs of the tees.
- The tees that have been turfed still show the old soil layer and this tends to be incompatible with the underlying rootzone and leads to rapid surface wear. Aeration is the only way to deal with this problem.
- Tees must be large enough to cope with the level of expected wear and tear if they are to maintain condition, where they fail we have to resort to mats. Golfers do not generally like mats and would prefer to be on grass all year and at Abergele they are fortunate in being able to use grass all year. The price to pay is increased wear and renovation costs.
- Being able to keep golfers on grass all year is a good selling point for any club and perhaps, for the future, additional grass teeing area should be considered wherever it is possible.
- Next to the tees we have areas of concentrated wear due to foot traffic. In such areas a hard path is the only solution but also helps by giving golfers somewhere dry to walk in winter and is a very useful addition to the Course.
- Use primo on the tees to reduce maintenance costs but also to improve shoot and root density.
- An ongoing topic at many clubs where, over many years, trees have grown into a problem.
There are still some areas that will benefit from further work but on the 18th tee there is little that can be done as the trees are not the Club’s. Any tree thinning would help this tee but otherwise its location means that occasional returfing is needed to maintain quality.
- The chestnut to the right of the 5th green should be removed for safety reasons.
- Where moss has developed it is well mixed into the grass but has been sprayed with iron. It may yet have to be verticut out to allow the grass to recover and improve density. Control will be achieved as conditions improve, i.e. become drier, and as grass vigour improves with better weather. Moss and Pearlwort are opportunists that invade weakened turf or bare patches and last year’s weather pattern was sufficient to create a short term problem.
- Lawn sand is the best available product at present and it will scorch the moss but does not kill the spores. Some raking is then needed to remove the damaged plants. As always with such weeds it is more important to find out why the moss is present and deal with the cause otherwise it will return. The wet weather is one factor but other common causes are the pH and thin or weak grass.
- Anything that weakens grass, compaction lack of feeding, close mowing, shade etc can all be responsible for the moss. A good remedy is therefore to raise feeding levels a little to improve turf density and avoid close mowing and aggressive work such as verticutting. On the 18th tee, we have an obvious reason for Pearlwort and moss, shade, but there is little that can be done to these trees.
- Only briefly discussed during my visit. The 3rd, old green location, would benefit from aeration and topdressing with a screened soil to improve water retention and improve grass cover.
- Otherwise grass cover was good and definition was clear.
Types of Reed Bed Construction, just a brief note on these for information only at this stage. I also attach an advisory leaflet on biobeds that might be interesting.
- Surface Horizontal Flow (SHF)
This design allows water to flow over the surface of the bed between the stems of the reed plants which are planted in earth. The water is visible, usually to a depth of around 150mm. The design is effective for settling out solids prior to further treatment, or to balance flows into further reed bed stages.
- Subsurface Horizontal Flow (SSHF)
This design allows water to flow below the surface of the reed bed through gravel media. The reed plants are planted in the gravel. There is no visible water in the bed and as such presents no public safety of odour problems. The reed plants are allowed to dieback in winter and form a warm composted layer which protects the biofilm below. This design if effective in reducing SS, BOD, COD and partial ammonia removal. It is also effective in removal of hydrocarbons, some heavy metals and nitrates.
- Down Flow or Vertical Flow (VF)
This design requires dosing of the bed’s surface using a network of pipes using either a pumping or a siphon system. The idea is to flood the surface of the reed bed a number of times per day. As the water flows down through the bed, it draws air in, creating the right bacterial environment. VF reed beds are very effective in removal of BOD, ammonia and some heavy metals and take up less area for similar treatment compared to SSHF. The efficiency of SSHF and VF reed beds may be improved by adding certain chemicals to the water during the treatment. This dosing technique can be used for phosphorous for example. Water can be treated progressively through multiple reed bed stages and some or all of the above systems can be incorporated into a complete treatment system. Please let me know if anything else is needed or if any of the above need to be clarified.