It must be June as the rain is non-stop. This is the 9th green on Saturday, the supposed Day 1 of the Club Championship. Let us contrast this with May as demonstrated in the photo below
Both months have posed different challenges. But let's start with May and we'll answer a few questions with it too. We followed April (cold nights, frosts, drying winds, very dry weather indeed), with quite a warm, dry May.
The photo above demonstrates the perimeter of the 4th green. Localised dry spot (LDS) was evident on several greens. I think in the case of the 4th green, several issues played a part in this; thatch dries out quickly in the surface and any roots (from shallow rooted poa annua) suffer without constant water. Warm, drying winds will also contribute to turf deterioration. But what is perhaps a bigger issue - and it is very common on parkland golf courses - is tree roots. Ultimately the height of a tree will indicate the width/extent of the tree roots, and tree roots care little for what is in their way, be that a golf green or a land drain, as long as they are able to access water.
The photo above with the screwdriver shows a tree root in the collar that is a yard or two from the dry patch on the green. Coincidence? I very much doubt it. Luckily, we are moving in the right direction with large tree removal like what has taken place in the woodland adjacent to the 4th green as shown in the photo below. When turf (and particularly turf on a golf green) is compromised by tree roots then the question is - what is the bigger priority - trees or the golf course turf?
Another question asked recently (related to dry patches on greens) was whether the greens had been irrigated. If irrigation was not being used, then surely the whole green would look dry. The fact that the patches at the 4th green and those seen at the 6th green, below, are surrounded by green turf demonstrates that the problem is localised and is not an irrigation issue. I think that the areas affected on the 6th green are partially due to tree roots but also due to the affected area being on a south facing slope. Let's not also forget that sand based golf greens are also prone to drying out too.
At least with the onset of June, these areas are no longer affected. Perhaps if we get a mix of a little rain mixed with a good dose of warm, dry weather then we will be onto a winner!
Other work that has ben carried out includes mowing rough slightly shorter. We are now mowing at 2 inches and this has benefited by making the rough look less patchy, more tight and giving better definition too. Maybe it helps, it being shorter, of helping with recovery shots too.
We are also looking at other small areas on the golf course that we can improve. The woodland edges near the 7th and 16th tees have been sprayed to knock down weeds and to improve the aesthetics of these areas. A small improvement but that said, it is progress and eventually small things contribute to the aim of continually improving the golf course.
We are able to present the greens fairly well at the moment but one obstacle we have to overcome during May, June and July are the poa seed heads that are present on the greens. Poa seeds because it is an annual (weeds are annuals and also produce seed heads). The seed heads produced by poa are due to stress (e.g. heat, cold, lack of moisture, lack of nutrient, mowing etc). The problem for golfers is the seed heads can often affect ball roll and give a 'snakey' ball roll. We use a plant growth regulator to tighten up the turf, reduce clipping yields and as top growth is reduced, the seed heads produced by poa sit closer to the surface.
You can see the white seed heads above and they are very noticeable at this time of year. Often, the greens can look 'white' from a distance. The seed heads will eventually set as seed at the height of summer and will produce future generations of poa annua. Getting rid of this weed grass is next to impossible. It is germinated by seed that is often carried by wind and will germinate anywhere. All it needs is moisture and that is in abundance in the UK.
As I write, the Club Championship has been postponed due to the heavy rain of Saturday. Hopefully, the course will be drier next time around which should make for more enjoyable golf and enable us to produce slightly faster greens.
Have a great weekend and enjoy your golf.