Update from John Mann – Course Manager

It has been another wet period, with 102mm of rain falling in the past 30 days. There is no growth in our fairway and tee grasses with some areas not being mown for four months. The Bayer soil temperature chart illustrates how far current conditions are away from optimal warm-season grass (fairways and tee) growing conditions. Our current soil temperatures are around 8oc.

The cold conditions and warm-season grass dormancy has provided the opportunity for non-selective herbicides to be used to control Poa plants which are resistant to other herbicides on the market. The results so far look promising, with significant yellowing off of plants in all areas of treatment.

The storage dam is now at full capacity, and the bores are resting. The lake will start to be filled over the next  two months so that it is full in time for the commencement of the irrigation season.

Organic matter testing was undertaken on three greens in October 2018 and then again in June 2019 to monitor the amount of organic material built up from the last renovation. The results have shown that current practices such as dusting, and solid tine aeration, have maintained organic matter levels within the target range. Therefore a major renovation is not required at this stage.

In May of this year, testing was carried out using the STRI trueness metre. The trueness metre is a machine designed to measure smoothness (vertical movement) and trueness (lateral movement) in the last 2 metres (6 ft) of a putt. The purpose of this was to measure the ball roll on our greens, following different methods of greens preparation and compare the figures to data collected at tournament venues around the world. The data showed that following both mowing and rolling singularly, the ball roll on our greens is within the tournament range for standards around the world.

We will continue to monitor and assess our practices and adapt our programs accordingly.

The winter period is a peak time for annual weed grasses to germinate in native plantings. The staff and the green team have targeted these areas over the past months, and all native plantings have been hand weeded and sprayed where required. Off-target irrigation from the summer continues to cause issues in native plantings with the back of the 11th green being a great example of how sprinklers throwing into the native plantings, reduces the native plant’s natural ability to out-compete weeds, while also wasting water and creating more work for the staff.

Pruning of the more woody heathland plants has been started, to encourage plants to grow to fill out laterally and cover more ground, while improving playability if your ball comes to rest around these species. From January 1st this year, an average of 60 hours per week has been spent maintaining native vegetation around the course.

There has been some slow growth of plants in the 8th and 13th. Encouraging early signs are the newly planted Hibertia beginning to flower.

Assistant Course Manager Hamish Buckingham is heading over to Gleneagles to shadow senior management during The Solheim Cup tournament week. The logistics of preparing for a major event and co-ordinating 100 hundred maintenance staff, will be a great learning experience in his development.

Published on 16th August 2019 in Course News