Greenkeeper’s Address June 2021
Ben Archer, Brailsford’s Head Greenkeeper is delighted to to take this opportunity to give you all a quick update as we enter warmer months…
I think we can all agree since golfs’ return in March, the unpredictable weather has not only impacted play but also presented issues for the course.
Whilst we are all becoming well versed in dealing with the ‘unusual’, I was surprised to see Poa Annua showing seed heads as early as April this year. This is unheard of as it usually reproduces during mid to late May. Following a very dry April with just 6mm of rainfall, May bought us 163mm and cooler temperatures. The heavy rainfall in May was, however, very much needed and indeed appreciated.
There has been an increase in the yellowing of the turf in areas from mid-April. This is in fact not down to lack of moisture or nutrients but down to pests. The pests in question are called Leather Jackets, these are the larvae of the European Crane Fly (Daddy Long Legs). These pests live under the surface during the day munching away on the roots of the plants and then at night they surface to eat the leaf blade which also causes the yellowing effect. We then have a secondary issue as crows, badgers and other animals look to eat them. Wildlife will rip up the turf in search of the abundant natural food supply. This is something we are going to have to manage going forward as the use of pesticides was prohibited 5 years ago under EU regulations. We have been trying to remove them culturally by laying black sheeting down on the greens to draw them to the surface overnight, we will continue to persevere with this technique.
The 8th tee box was seeded in the middle of April. As with any aspect of green-keeping we are at the mercy of mother nature with frosts still occurring up to the 23rd of May. We are however, pleased to announce that the tee received its first cut on 1st of June and we are now just waiting for the turf to thicken so its suitable to play off.
Through the growing season we will continue to Verticut and top dress the greens. Doing this work means we will manage any thatch accumulation through the growing season. We continue to aerate the greens by using the Multi-tiner, which creates a hole down to 100mm allowing water to drain away from the surface faster.
Summer maintenance is scheduled for the week commencing 16th August. The work to be carried out includes a double Verticut that opens up the top of the sward allowing more sand to be incorporated into it. We are then scarifying down to 15mm with 1mm blades to remove thatch. We will then over-seed with a blend of Fescue and Bent grasses into the prepared seedbed which is subsequently covered with 1-1.5 ton of sand on each green. 25mm solid tines then punch holes through to 10inch. All of which will help to remove thatch and increase the drainage characteristic of the greens.
The 3rd path is nearing completion which I think we can all agree will be a job well done. Ever since we lowered the beech hedge adjacent to the path it had exposed the overall poor state of the path. As part of the redevelopment of the path we have also decided to increase the height of the 16th tee. The reasoning was to allow for a slightly easier tee shot over the trees, the trees will eventually become too much of an obstacle and we will reassess the playability of the hole as and when needed. We hope to have the tee seeded mid-June and fingers crossed for a quick grow in.