Make sure you continue to brush or switch greens and tees daily to remove moisture, aiding against the spread of disease and facilitating an improved quality of cut.
Depending on the growth of the grass mowing frequencies will vary from anywhere between daily and twice weekly. Local conditions, type of course, sward and mower type are all factors in mowing heights. the less stress placed on the grass at this vital time the better results will be during the season, so remember not to remove more than 1/3 of total grass height in each cut.
Greens - Mowing height should remain at around 6-8mm.
Tees - Mowing height should remain at around 10-15mm.
Banks - Mowing height should remain at 22-30mm
Fairways - Mowing height should remain at around 15-25mm.
Mow and tidy rough, semi rough grass areas - you can reduce build up of clippings by cutting little and often with a rotary or flail. Mowing height of cut during winter should be between 50-100mm, depending on type of course and the standard of play required.
When conditions allow aerate greens, tees and fairways, put to use a wide range of solid, hollow or slit - this is essential for the green to maintain air and gas exchange and alleviate compaction.
Inspect, weed and rake bunkers, as well as checking for any damage from rabbits or other animals - maintain the sand up the face to prevent erosion and sand loss. If you have experienced the flash floods repair work may be necessary, continue or undertake bunker construction works.
Also make sure to inspect greens, tees, flags and holes for damage or vandalism, which you can find increases during the winter period.
Changing holes should be done regularly, but the frequency will be dependent on a whole host of factors such as green size, tournaments and amount of play.
You may find, during wet weather, it’s likely the hole will wear and result in a crowning affect, which can become more apparent if the green has thatch problems. You should be looking to change the hole position more than three times per during some wet periods.
In recent years we have seen a number of products that can be applied during the winter months to aid recovery, as such fertiliser programmes should be tailored to suit the grass plants needs.
Greens will be sodden with grass roots requiring some air. Once they’ve dried sufficiently, do some aerating as the holes will make a huge difference in the plants recovery.
A slow release low nitrogen feed will be in order, as temperatures are unusually high, to nourish the sward.
Aeration is key to keeping the golf course open through the winter periods. When conditions allow aeration programmes should continue, using a whole range of solid, slit and hollow tines.
Aerate fairways with solid tines to increase air and gas exchanges, when ground conditions are favourable. Deeper rooted grasses are more likely to overcome stresses in the following year, so encouraging deeper rooting of fairway grass is important.
Weeds, Pests & Diseases
It’s important to keep the sward brushed, particularly in the mornings, as diseases can occur during these spells of mild weather. By knocking off the dew you remove surface water and allow it to dry out.
Fungicides can be used to control diseases, with a wide range of products on the market that have the active ingredients Chlorothalonil and Iprodione.
Keep an eye on the square and treat accordingly, as worm activity can be quite prevalent during the winter months. Worms treatments can be carried out but make sure you understand why worms are present. You may find pH levels, organic matter and your cultural practices on the square need to be assessed.
Foxes, moles and rabbits can become a problem, employing approved pest control services to remove them from the site may be a solution.
Warm and wet weather, early morning dew and diminishing daylight all are factors which increase the risk of fungal disease outbreaks.
The typical types of diseases you may come across this time of year are:
Machinery & Materials
Repairs on things such as mowing equipment should be nearly complete. Sharpening of reels and blades are a key requirement, so it’s important that all such replacement parts are in stock.
Now is also a great time for an early spring clean of the mess rooms, toilets and garages. It’s always good Health & Safety practice to keep working areas clean and tidy.
January is also a time to reflect on the work achieved and what you want to plan for next year. Many golf clubs have their budgets set in January, so it is a good time to prioritise your spending.