After renovation update.

 

We began our renovations on the 4th of September with the hope of boxing it off in one day. We had hired in a core collector and power brush to make the task easier. Unfortunately for us the core collector wasn’t the greatest so we had to collect the cores all up by hand, which is very time consuming. Day 1 we had 10 greens cored, dressed and brushed in.

As you will see later on in the blog through a weather graph the Tues (5th) was a complete wash out , nearly 19mm fell, which in one respect was great to wash in the dressing but on the other hand made everything else a complete nightmare.

So we went into the Wednesday with 9 greens to complete. Wet greens with wet sand was not going to be fun. We were having good success until the tines we had bought wore out with 3 greens to go, this is not normally an issue if you use them on drier greens, but due to them being sodden it wouldn’t pull a complete core out. The pic shows how the bottom of the tines have worn out. This meant we had to solid tine (12mm) greens 9,16 & 18 and the putting green.

All in all during these 3 day we got all the greens done and topdressed. We applied approximately 25, the target was 30 but due to the sand being so wet it was impossible. We overseeded on the Thurs with 30kg of bent grass seed.

Since we finished on the Thursday the weather really turned against us, making it impossible to carry out any remedial work that needed doing. The greens were only cut twice during this week because it was too wet, we couldn’t get on with the roller and more importantly we couldn’t get on with the feed because of the wind. None of the greens that needed topping up could get finished either, to be honest it was very very frustrating for the greens staff.

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The last of the heavy rain fell last Thurs (14th), 5mm from midnight – 5am. Thankfully after that storm had passed weather conditions became calm, we fed the greens that morning. Granular feed ideally gets watered in, as you can tell from the graph, since we applied the feed, rainfall has been minimal!!!!

 

The pictures above show the before and after effect of applying the feed. These photos were taken 4 days apart, there is still a lot more feed to break down and become available to the plant so every day the recovery will get greater. Due to the weather we experienced during this work I would say we are around 5-7 days behind where we would like to be, unfortunately it was completely out of our hands.

We managed to get another 5T of sand on Tues 19th, this has helped top up the majority of the un-filled holes. For the next 10-14 days we will let nature take over in the recovery. After this period we will apply small amounts of dressing every 2 weeks whilst the grass is still growing.

We have been advised by the STRI to stop tine aeration until the end of October, this is to try to limit the amount of eggs the crane fly can lay into our greens. Because of this we have rejuvenated our very very old slit tiner, this will be used early October to allow gaseous exchange and water infiltration.

Thanks for reading, please follow us on twitter @ashtonleagreens, this will give you daily reports on the state of the course and updates of what we are doing.

We also have a facebook page, search for Ashton and Lea greens. Please like the page and ask your golfing friends to like the page, make them aware of the good things we are doing and producing.

We are now also posting pictures on Instagram, search for ashtonleagreens, you should find us.

Any concerns or opinions on what we are doing please contact us directly on greens-ashtonlea@hotmail.com.

Thanks, Mark Shuttleworth ,(Deputy Head Greenkeeper)

 

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September greens work

Just a quick note to let you know what is happening next week on the greens. This year we are moving away from the Graden work after verti draining, instead we will be using 10mm hollow tines. This will be followed by top dressing and brushing in using a sweep ‘n’ fill brush.

We are not using the Graden this year after 4 years of using it during September work. There are two reasons for this.

  1. We are happy with the organic matter levels in the greens so feel this aggressive technique can be relaxed for a year.
  2. We have struggled all year with shallow rooting due to leather jacket damage, 10mm hollow tine will give the roots greater chance to establish.

We are planning to use the Graden machine next September, probably using it on a biennial basis. We are planning on getting around 35-40 tonnes of sand into the profile by using the hollow tines.

Work will commence on Monday 4th Sept, and hopefully finish Tuesday 5th. All weather dependent. On the Tuesday we will be over seeding the greens followed by another light dressing. There will be disruption all day long on these two days with temporary greens being used where needed.

Thanks for reading, please follow us on twitter @ashtonleagreens, this will give you daily reports on the state of the course and updates of what we are doing.

We also have a facebook page, search for Ashton and Lea greens. Please like the page and ask your golfing friends to like the page, make them aware of the good things we are doing and producing.

We are now also posting pictures on Instagram, search for ashtonleagreens, you should find us.

Any concerns or opinions on what we are doing please contact us directly on greens-ashtonlea@hotmail.com.

Thanks, Mark Shuttleworth ,(Deputy Head Greenkeeper)

Confusing time!!

It’s been a strange season this year, as a greens team we feel like we have been there or there about without getting to last years level.

We have done very similar things than we did last year, but for couple of reasons the results haven’t been like last season.

As you will have noticed early May we suffered from bird damage. The birds were digging for leather jackets. So we had the damage from the birds digging, but we also had extensive damage from the little grubs eating away at the roots of the turf.

This is the main reason why the greens have appeared patchy for most of the season and also appear to perform better after a little bit of rain. We took a core sample out from one of the struggling areas, very little rooting was found. This make sense now as to why the liquid feeds we have put on appear to work for a short period of time, before the feed washes past the shallow roots.

This is why we have made the decision to apply a granular feed last Thursday. We don’t like putting a granular feed on mid season as we always get a flush of growth. The granular will hang around in the top portion of the rootzone longer so will give us time to develop deeper roots. As you can see from the picture they are looking nicer to the eye and we had great feed back from last sunday.

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Although as you can see from the bottom of the photo a mottled affect, this is the 2 different types of grass in the sward. Our greens are made up predominantly of Poa and Bent grasses. The Poa doesn’t like being put under any stress, loves to be feed and watered. The Bent grasses can tolerate little feeds and drought conditions whilst maintaining a good colour. We are trying to promote the bent grasses in our greens because of the benefits  of them, less fertiliser, less fungicides, less water.

There is an extremely fine line in encouraging the bent grasses because you have to put the Poa in a stress situation. Poa doesn’t like stress, a good example of this was the 5th green. We will be working closely with Emma Beggs from the STRI to ensure we get the best results.

We had our annual STRI on the 17th, we have yet to receive the full report, although Emma told us that the organic matter (OM) in the top 0-20mm had increased. This is disappointing considering we applied well over 100 Tonne of sand last year. On the plus side the firmness of the greens were well in range for the 1st time. These two sets of results contradict each other in a way, if the OM has increased you would expect the firmness to decrease.

We are now well into the build up for Captains 2nd round, the weather so far has been an absolute nightmare 22mm already this week, with more rain forecast today (Friday). Because the granular feed has kicked in we have had to double cut the greens just to try and get reasonable speed!!  The speed of the greens for 1st round was 9’8″, i’m hoping to achieve similar for Saturday.

I will be doing another blog mid August to let you know of our plans for September renovations, we are still planning on using the graden but we are not 100% that we are going to because of the rooting issues with some parts of the greens, this will be monitored during the next few weeks before a final decision is made. We have got other options that will go ahead if we decided against the graden. The planned week is w/c Sept 5th. We will get around 40T of sand into the profile one way or another.

Thanks for reading, please follow us on twitter @ashtonleagreens, this will give you daily reports on the state of the course and updates of what we are doing.

We also have a facebook page, search for Ashton and Lea greens. Please like the page and ask your golfing friends to like the page, make them aware of the good things we are doing and producing.

We are now also posting pictures on Instagram, search for ashtonleagreens, you should find us.

Any concerns or opinions on what we are doing please contact us directly on greens-ashtonlea@hotmail.com.

Thanks, Mark Shuttleworth ,(Deputy Head Greenkeeper)

Tough Start

As the title says it’s been a very tough start to the season for us. We had 24/31 wet days during March, this put us back completing all our winter projects on time. Then we went to the other extreme of dealing with the driest April we’ve had for years.

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Going through our rain records April is a notoriously dry month, with 49mm avg. We only had 12.8mm last month. This gave us a few problems, on the course it meant that none of the G.U.R’s were germinating to recovery and on the greens it meant there was a lack of moisture to aid the grass into growth. Lack of moisture isn’t a bad thing as it drives the roots further down looking for water, but after a prolonged period like we had it does become detrimental to the plant.

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This chart shows the amount of water the plant lost from evaporation from the soil and transpiration from the plant ( Evapotranspiration), against natural rainfall. As you can see in 30 days, only 3 times did the plant receive more water naturally than it lost, not good!!!. This meant that we had to irrigate to get the moisture levels in the grass to an acceptable level. This had the greenstaff coming up at night to ensure that the greens had the correct amount of water to keep the plant alive.

As greenkeepers in this situation we apply water to keep the grass alive, we don’t do it to make the  green more receptive to a shot. To do that would mean applying a ridiculous amount of water that we haven’t got available to us.

Grass need warmth to grow, we have had some decent day time temperatures in May but night time temps have been shocking. Last year we had a night temp of 13.8, this year we’ve been as low as 2.3. It’s the night time temps that are crucial for grass growth.

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Last year we had a cracking week from the 5th – 12th that got the greens going, we’ve had the exact opposite this year!!!, this has prevented us from doing greenkeeping tasks that bring the greens on, verti-cutting, top dressing etc.

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Because growth has been poor we have literally had to nurse the greens through. As the chart shows we had 4 days of decent growth so hopefully we are looking on the up. Growth potential is measured 0 (none) – 1 (exceptional), 0.6 is good growth. We have a feed going on Wednesday morning so with the chance for grass growth we are taking advantage of the first good spell we’ve had.

Hopefully next week we will be able to verti-cut and put down a decent amount of sand to smooth out the surface.

In other news we have had the air2g2 machine on the greens again, this machine pumps compressed air into the greens causing fracturing that roots and water can use.

 

If you play anytime soon you will probably see scars on the greens caused by magpies and crows digging for ‘leather jackets’, these are the larvae of daddy long legs. There is absolutely nothing we can do about this as we have had the chemicals to control the problem removed from the market. All we can do is repair the green asap. We are using coloured sand with seed in.

 

Thanks for reading, please follow us on twitter @ashtonleagreens, this will give you daily reports on the state of the course and updates of what we are doing.

We also have a facebook page, search for Ashton and Lea greens. Please like the page and ask your golfing friends to like the page, make them aware of the good things we are doing and producing.

We are now also posting pictures on Instagram, search for ashtonleagreens, you should find us.

Any concerns or opinions on what we are doing please contact us directly on greens-ashtonlea@hotmail.com.

Thanks, Mark Shuttleworth ,(Deputy Head Greenkeeper)

April update 2017

Spring renovations have been and gone, with the greens coming out of the other side in very good condition. We did things slightly different than planned, with a last minute decision to go with 18mm tines instead of 9mm.

We decided to do this because of how healthy the greens were going into the renovation weeks, we felt they were strong enough to cope with a more aggressive routine.

In total we tined them once and got a total of 45T of sand into the profile. Last year we tined 3 times getting 36T of sand into the profile.

In hindsight there are a few things i would do different to get an even better result, hire in a power brush and have all the sand on site prior to work commencing. This will happen in the autumn renovations (1st week of sept)

During the work we applied a feed to the greens to keep them strong, we used a product called ‘cold start’. It’s the 1st time we have used this and I was extremely happy with the response we got. 10 days ago we put on a second feed, this was a liquid that we used last year, like last year it is giving us good results.

Its been a strange start to the season weather wise. Although April is traditionally one of the driest months of the year, we are currently going through the driest April we have had in the last 10 years, 10.8mm!!! this time last we had 38.4 with only 4 dry days in April.

Even though we’ve had little cloud cover temperature have been average for this time of year, with night time temps 2deg higher than this time last year, this has helped with growth. We have had steady growth to start with, although we could do with a little more!!

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This chart shows us where we are against last years growth. According to our data we are tracking around 3 weeks ahead in terms of growth potential, from a personal point of view I would say this isn’t far off. In fact we are roughly where we were on the 7/8th of May last year. We are taking off a good box of clippings every cut this year.

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This chart is purely April growth potential, this year we have a cumulative figure of 5.11 opposed to 3.86 last year, a figure of 0.4 would give you good growth in a day.

We are aware that the greens a a little bobbly at the minute, mainly because of the different grass species in the sward growing at different rates. The Poa, which is dominant in the greens has yet to ‘kick off’ properly. We are brushing when cutting to stand the grass up giving us a better cut, the little and often top dressing will also even out the surface. Height of cut is currently at 4.75mm, this will be taken down further to 4.5mm this week. Summer height will be 4mm.

The long range forecast we receive shows us that the cold spell will last until mid next week, then on Tues/Weds (2nd/3rd May) the temperatures will improve greatly to late teens early 20’s, just like last year.

The only moan we have is the number of pitchmarks we see on a daily basis, please repair your pitchmarks as they have a detrimental effect on the putting surface.

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Our summer aeration plan will kick off this week with solid tining and a light dressing this Tuesday, this will help smooth out and bobbling. Hopefully weather dependent we will spray the greens Weds with seaweed and a wetting agent.

Thanks for reading, please follow us on twitter @ashtonleagreens, this will give you daily reports on the state of the course and updates of what we are doing.

We also have a facebook page, search for Ashton and Lea greens. Please like the page and ask your golfing friends to like the page, make them aware of the good things we are doing and producing.

We are now also posting pictures on Instagram, search for ashtonleagreens, you should find us.

Any concerns or opinions on what we are doing please contact us directly on greens-ashtonlea@hotmail.com.

Thanks, Mark Shuttleworth ,(Deputy Head Greenkeeper)

Greens plan next few weeks

Just a brief blog to let you know what will be happening in the next month leading up to the start of the season.

Greens renovation work will start next, Mon 13th. The plan is to solid tine (19mm tine) to a depth of 100mm at spacings of 50mm x 50mm. The holes will then be filled with sand then brushed in. We are hoping to put around 12 tonne on.

This will occur 3 times over a three week period, we are doing exactly what we did this time last year. We are planning to complete the task in one day. The weather will have a roll to play so although the plan is to do it on three Mondays, we may be doing it other days also. During the task there will be some temporary greens in play, we will keep disruption to a minimum.

Next week we will also put on the second feed of the season on the greens to help them trough the work and also get them ready for the start of the season. We are all extremely happy with how the greens are currently  performing, both play-ability and health.

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The data we are getting from our weather station is telling us we are about a week ahead in growth terms from last year, so hopefully we might get a decent growing start to a season, something we haven’t had for a long time.

Hopefully the bunker base will be completed this week, the weather has been a complete nightmare for us and the contractor. The stone must have a low % of moisture and the polymer must set, so it needs to be dry.

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The graph above shows what we’ve had since 13/2. Hopefully we are coming to the end of 19 consecutive days of rain. This time last year we had 272mm, this year we’ve only had 122mm, yet the course is absolutely saturated.

Thanks for reading, please follow us on twitter @ashtonleagreens, this will give you daily reports on the state of the course and updates of what we are doing.

We also have a facebook page, search for Ashton and Lea greens. Please like the page and ask your golfing friends to like the page, make them aware of the good things we are doing and producing.

We are now also posting pictures on Instagram, search for ashtonleagreens, you should find us.

Any concerns or opinions on what we are doing please contact us directly on greens-ashtonlea@hotmail.com.

Thanks, Mark Shuttleworth

 

Woodland Management

Woodland work has been continuing throughout the month of February. Trees play an extremely important role on golf courses offering strategy, aesthetic and ecological value. All three aspects are desirable but have to be maintained within a wider golf course plan. Tree work is now being carried out to the woodland in between the 7th and 12th hole. These trees were planted over 15 years ago and have matured to the stage where selective management is vital to the health of the stand.

Trees which were initially planted only metres apart have started to crowd one another out to the detriment of both. The weaker of the two trees are now being removed to the benefit of the stronger specimen (see photo)

 

This selective tree removal will also aid the maintenance of the turf by allowing a machine into areas that were previously maintained by pedestrian methods such as strimming. This labour intensive activity can now be replaced by a faster more efficient approach.

The thinning of trees will also have a positive agronomic influence over the 12th green allowing a greater flow of air and increased light penetration to the greens’ surface. Changes to these environmental aspects should decrease the time the surface remains moist during times of heavy dew. The result of which will be a healthier turf more adept at resisting disease instance such as Microdochium patch (Fusarium).

A less dense stand of trees will reduce the penalty of an errant golf shot. A ball that lands only a few metres from the semi-rough could result in a player having a having to play out sideways due to the number of densely planted trees. The thinning of the stand will allow a golfer to advance the ball more easily thus reducing the penalty incurred. An additional benefit to this should be a speed up in play.

Whilst very much an ancillary benefit to the removal of trees but one that shouldn’t be overlooked is the use of the timber to extend the log wall to the rear of the 5th  green. This feature has been extremely well received by members and visitors alike. It has also caught the eye of the STRI Golf Environment Awards and contributed to the highly commended award in this years competition. A big thank you to all the hard work put in this year and especially to our volunteers who gave up many hours of their own time.

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Thanks for reading, please follow us on twitter @ashtonleagreens, this will give you daily reports on the state of the course and updates of what we are doing.

We also have a facebook page, search for Ashton and Lea greens. Please like the page and ask your golfing friends to like the page, make them aware of the good things we are doing and producing.

We are now also posting pictures on Instagram, search for ashtonleagreens, you should find us.

Any concerns or opinions on what we are doing please contact us directly on greens-ashtonlea@hotmail.com.

Many thanks

Tom Jacques

Greens info @ Ashton & Lea G.C