So far in 2014 we are way ahead of where we were last year
The weather may have improved recently with some sunny and warmer days but it’s worth remembering that it’s still only March and it may be a while before we see any consistent growth on the courses here at the Home of Golf.
This can be a difficult time for greenkeepers in the UK as golfers often watch PGA Tour events from the likes of Florida and wonder why, when they arrive at their local golf course for the first time since October, it doesn’t look and play the same as the ones they’ve seen on TV!
Many of the grass types which make up or courses need a consistent soil temperature of 8 degrees Celsius before we see reasonable growth. This will also help to fill any blemishes or gaps caused by winter play, pitchmarks or disease scars. At the moment the temperature in the soil is still around 4 or 5 degrees Celsius at night.
Some grass types require even higher temperatures and due to this we experience inconsistent growth which can lead to the ball bobbling a little as it rolls across the surface. This is a time for patience as no amount of cutting, fertilising or watering will improve the situation. In fact, watering makes the situation worse as a wet soil takes longer to warm up than if it’s dry. It is important, however, to make sure the grass has adequate moisture to keep it alive.
What’s required is frequent, lightweight rolling and regular, light topdressing to help smooth out the imperfections and protect the plant from the cold winds and low evening temperatures we are still liable to experience.
These types of operations keep the surfaces dry and firm which leads to less footprints and, in turn, smoother greens until temperatures warm up.
So far in 2014 we are way ahead of where we were last year. In 2013, constant cold, easterly, gale force winds really held everything back. This desiccated the grass and many other plants around the Links like gorse; some of which still hasn’t recovered.
Let’s hope the good weather continues and we don’t experience a repeat of last spring!
Words by Gordon Moir, Director of Greenkeeping