It seems Spring is well and truly underway with temps hitting 18 degrees last week. In contrast to February rainfall has been minimal (18mm March compared to 41mm Feb) which has had a marked effect on the golf course . Despite the warm weather we have been delayed each morning by frost. This week all bunkers and tee banks have been flymoed and trimmed and the fairways and approaches mown. The fairways have been sprayed with a folia feed which will help growth and enhance the sward in the run up to Maintenance Week. The coverage and composition of the fairways has improved greatly following the hollow coring and over seeding last year. They are in better shape coming out of winter compared to last year and will improve again as the season progresses. The tees have been successfully over seeded and with a decent forecast the seed should germinate and ‘pop’ within a couple of weeks. The tees will be sprayed with a folia feed and growth suppressent – Primo-Maxx. Extensive reasearch in the USA shows that applying Primo-Maxx allows the new seedlings to complete against the existing grass and aids establishment. The folia feed allows the Primo-Maxx to be taken up by the plant more efficiently and helps thicken the sward.
The main objective this week is to apply a further top-dressing or ‘dusting’ to the greens towards the start of the week which will help maintain a decent surface. With the verti draining now complete our attention has focused on clearing leaves from the ditches around the course. There have been several comments from members regarding leaves. As stated before leaves play an important part in suppressing weed growth and contributing to the health and ecology of woodlands. We recently attended a seminar at Burhill Golf Club run by the Sports Turf Reasearch Institute (S.T.R.I.) which discussed the importance of sustainability, management and ecology of golf courses. It was interesting to note that the S.T.R.I. advise not removing all wood, branches and leaves from the floor of woodlands, indeed dead and decaying wood is as beneficial and important as living trees: an area devoid of leaves in a woodland is un-natural. At Burhill they have a policy of clearing an area of 2 metres into the woodland around each hole. There has to be a compromise, with the playability of the golf course an important consideration. Here at East Berkshire we aim for a balance between the two: with leaves cleared from ditches and areas around the course while leaves remain confined to wooded areas. The weather looks set to stay warm with some rain forecast for the middle of the week. This will be ideal for the seed and heather turf while easing the need to hand water and irrigate!.