At this time of the year, mowing should be occurring on a regular basis, with the mowers set to cut at their summer heights. With the level of play on most golf courses at their peak, there is a need to ensure that the quality of the playing surface remains high, with good green speeds and consistency of roll on the fairways.
There will be a temptation to drop cutting heights on the greens, however, it is better to look at utilising rollers to ensure good speeds without placing stress on your sward.
Suggested Cutting Heights - Greens - around 3.5-6mm.Tees - around 10-15mm. Fairways - around 15-20mm. Rough and Semi rough – Just mow and tidy up these areas.
Horizontal turf growth can be reduced through regular brushing and verti-cutting, with the latter occurring between two to four weeks. This should also help prevent thatch accumulation during the growing season. To encourage a denser and more attractive sward, groom and brush the greens, to stand horizontal growth up, before mowing.
Changing the hole position should be done once or twice a week depending on use, wear and tear to the green and/or competition requirements. In determining the position of the hole, it is important to judge what will give fair results. Take into account things like - the length of the shot to the green and the probable conditions for the day - wind and other weather elements, conditions of the turf from which the shot will be played, and holding quality of the green.
For instance, ideally there should be enough putting green surface between the hole and the front and the sides of the green to allow for the required shot to the green. Should the hole need a long iron or wood shot to the green, the hole should be located deeper in the green and further from its edges than if it requires a short pitch shot. Generally, it is recommended that the position of the hole is at least four paces from any edge of the green. If a bunker is close to the green edge, or if the ground slopes away , the distance should be greater, especially if the shot is more than a pitching wedge. Consideration should also be given to a fair opportunity for recovery after a reasonably good shot that, say, just misses the green.
The fertiliser requirements, especially on USGA specification greens, will be high at this time and as we move into the summer period of less rainfall and more sunshine, we should be utilising a better ratio of nitrogen to potassium. Potassium plays a big part in the plant at this time, by affecting chemical and moisture transfer through the root system, as well as allowing better stomatal control by the individual plant. Use something with an NPK ratio of something akin to a 9-7-7 or a 12-0-8.
Watering the greens will be become more of a consideration as the soil temperatures reach high levels in places and the surface dries out under a warm sunny sky .However, do not become reliant on this practice to reduce drought stress. Where possible, hand watering should be employed, especially on high spots, to help reduce the chance of dry spot.
Try and water as close to nature as possible, soaking the surface at irregular intervals, rather than using a little and often approach as with topdressing.
Water management is key in July, as most courses will be looking to utilise wetting agents where possible, to save money and resources. Find the product that suits your course and your resources both financial and human. Try to record and monitor the effect they have on your own course’s soil for future reference. A moisture probe would be ideal for this. Once applied, remember to water the products in well to avoid scorching.
Advantages of growth regulators are in producing healthier root system and reduced top growth, whilst also reducing mowing requirements and wear on machinery.
Top dressing and aeration
Apply no more than 0.5 tonnes per green of top dressing and use pencil tines or similar when aerating using the little and often approach should help ensure a smooth putting surface, whilst also increasing the general health of the root system.
Deep aeration should not be required during July, due to dry soil conditions, but regular spiking will give more oxygen into the rootzone, aid root development and drainage potential,l during periods of heavy rainfall that occur in summer.
As you know, it is important to survey and measure the performance of your facilities; these can include measuring sward height, composition of grass species, soil temperature, weed content, levels over a 3m level, hardness and infiltration rates (porosity) of the soil rootzone etc and GPS mapping devices that can measure, chlorophyll, moisture content and deviation in levels with Soil tests determining soil type, nutrient status of the soil, organic matter content, CEC capacity and soil pH.
Monitoring these parameters will give you a better understanding of what is going on within your playing surface and enable you to make better decisions on what maintenance inputs/products and resources you will need to undertake and maintain your surface playability.
Weeds, pests and disease
During recent months, we have seen incidences of turf diseases such as Microdochium nivale (fusarium) on greens, Fairy Rings are in evidence and Red Thread has swept spectacularly through a lot of outfield turf. Disease activity in mid-summer is at a height and preventative action may be required as an effective form of control applying a systemic fungicide such as Heritage Maxx.
Weed growth is very active during July, and herbicides may be required as well. These are more effective when the plant is actively promoting growth. Always follow manufacturers' guidelines.
Mole and rabbit damage can be repaired as and when required.
As most golf clubs invest a lot of money in buying equipment it is important to keep them all regularly serviced and maintained to minimise on unnecessary capital expenditure and machinery breakdowns.