I am sure you are all enjoying the current course conditions – a real credit to Scott and his team.
Ronnie Lumsden, our course agronomist, inspected the course on April 18th. Please find a summary of his report below.
Please also remember that the next major course maintenance work will take place from 3rd to 7th July. This Summer programme is key to the overall great improvement we have seen in our greens over recent years.
HARBURN GOLF CLUB
REPORT ON CONDITION OF THE COURSE
DATE OF VISIT: 18 April 2017
The general condition is very good. If we consider the time of year and an inland course with less than perfect subsoil conditions the greens could not be better. Once again it would be hard to find better inland greens in the Lothians at this time.
The greens are firm, have good grass cover and most importantly there is a high proportion of the better quality “bent” grass. Without the regular sub-surface aeration and especially the coring over the last 10 years the greens would not be anything like as good as they are at this time. Some 10 years ago a higher proportion of meadow grass on a sub-surface that was dominated by clay would have resulted in weak grass cover and softer surfaces which would have been more prone to disease. And, at that time it is much more likely that the greens would have been played on much less often over the previous winter.
The overseeding of bent grass has had a huge impact on the surfaces. The improved quality of the sub-surfaces helps to make the bent grass cover sustainable across 12 months of the year. Having said that it is around the end of April that any meadow grass in the swards will start to establish and impact on the quality of the surfaces resulting is seed heads eventually disrupting the smoothness of ball roll, normally around mid-May to mid-June. So, once again this year take steps to minimise the negative impact of these with fine grooming and occasional verti-cutting when seed heads are evident.
The surrounds are fine and just need more cutting now. As you start to introduce the summer maintenance program these should start to look more evenly cut. The more frequent cutting, the better the finish. This is dictated by resources.
There are many well-defined approaches with good quality grass cover that enhance the course. However there remain the “usual” suspects” which appear untidy due to the impact of marsh type grasses which are caused by poor surface drainage. The front of the 14th, and 9th are clear examples. I think you need to try and find time to work at these areas quite intensely. Try to include in your regular work the following; aeration, scarification, sanding and more regular mowing. Once the areas start to recover include overseeding with dwarf rye and light fertilisation. I note that you will have the verti-drain in soon and I therefore suggest that all these weak areas be verti-drained during the 2 days. And if it is at all possible please apply as much sand as possible to the holes. Also during the coring of the greens, core and sand these areas as well.
I think the time has come to treat these areas with the intensity that you treat the greens if that is possible. We have excellent greens and in some cases these are attached to very poor approaches, which is a shame.
These are to be verti-drained soon. This will help with some of the weaker areas that are prone to moss. I think it is worthwhile also considering coring and sanding some weak areas at the same time as the coring of the greens is carried out. Generally they are fine and a priority may just be to consider mats on tees that become more heavily worn, such as 13 and 15.
FAIRWAYS AND ROUGH
Very little to say about the quality at this stage of the season. It will be important to establish an optimum height of cut for the fairways and an acceptable and achievable frequency of cutting to establish the desired quality of the finish on the fairways. Once the ideal height is agreed the quality is essentially down to how often these can be cut!
As for the rough I do believe that it is very important to establish areas that can be left unmowed to help release some maintenance time for other, more important work. During the visit we discussed a number of areas where rough could be extended by a metre or two without unduly affecting play. And some areas where rough could be extended “significantly” more than that. I think this is a crucial “experiment” to help to release some valuable time.