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Course Maintenance Report / Plan - February 2020
Hot, sunny and dry. Just 8.5 mm so far this month.
Irrigation of greens only, was our priority. Large parts of surround turf has been severely stressed by the drought. Overnight watering, with whatever targeted, daytime, watering possible has kept the turf alive across most greens. As well as the garden hoses, our 650 litre chemical sprayer was used as a last resort to keep the grass alive.
The summer, low impact, verti-drain and verti-cut operation went smoothly, this surface aeration, together with lots of hand spread wetting agent, helped the irrigation water penetrate the soil. While the verti-cut groomed and refined the grass at the surface.
The routine soluble fertiliser application, with added insecticide, and another preventative fungicide spray, fed and protected the greens for the month. So, with a little grass growth it was possible to prepare the green surfaces for the big events. The irrigation was adjusted to keep surfaces firm, the height of cut was kept at 4.0 mm, but the frequency of cut was increased. First to nine cuts per week, then to twelve!! Although this is a very safe way to have speeds of 9’6” to 10’, the morning after the Expol ProAm the greens did look a bit tired. Careful watering, and a couple of days without mowing, and we are ready for the Fox event.
Once this fixture is over, we have the autumn renovation of the greens. Verti-drain, de-thatch or verti-cut, followed by a couple of soil top dressings are planned for March. The degree of disturbance will be adjusted hole by hole, subject to ground conditions, and weather. Restoring putting surface smoothness, as quickly as possible. will be our focus. The aim is to take good greens into winter.
Tees, Surrounds and Fairways
This has been a long drought period, and it is not over yet. Rainfall for November to February, was 161 mm compared to an average of 495 mm.
With the exception of immediate green surrounds and par 3 tees, which have been kept just alive by a little irrigation, on the rest of the course, the turf is dormant. All areas were mown once, but this was really just cosmetic rolling.
Once we have some decent rain we can work on restoring healthy turf. We have plans to borrow an overseeding machine, and concentrate on covering the first 50 metres of approach with top grade browntop bent seed. Further out, shallow coring, and seeding with bent / fescue mix is planned. All these operations will include lots of aeration, either spiking, slicing or coring, to encourage long term deep roots and drought tolerance. Also, the path at 14 will be resown. We just need some regular rain, before it gets too cold.
Paspalum and Carpet Grass.
The drought conditions have been ideal for our spray program to reduce paspalum. This weed grass stays green when all the desirable grass has gone dormant. This year is year two of the three to five year process, and the results are encouraging. Paspalum in the rough looks very sad, except where a patch was missed lby the sprayer last year. Here we can see what it looks like un-sprayed. (e.g. the clump at the start of fairway 7). Once this job is completed, we can spray all greens and surrounds with Image, to continue our regime to control carpet grass in green surrounds and greens.
OJI Expol and Fox
Preparations for this season’s big tournaments was hugely helped by a number of hard working volunteers. Every tree, path, yardage post and fence post was trimmed by weedeaters. Tree debris was raked up and removed, and the whole course looked good. Also, for the Expol ProAm, a small crew of volunteers raked the bunkers. Many thanks to all.