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for excellence in sports surfaces The Kings Course - Gleneagles Richard Windows & Jay Dobson Turfgrass Agronomists
The Kings Course was presented well but poor drainage qualities to the greens and deterioration of heathland vegetation to the rough are the main issues to address to restore high quality and authentic heathland playing conditions and vegetation type.
Date of visit 11 th May 2012 Visit ObjectiveTo review the Kings Course, take objective measurements of greens performance and offer recommendations for future maintenance Present Mr Scott Fenwick– Golf & Estates Manager Mr Mike Doris – Head Greenkeeper Mr Gavin Speedie – Deputy Head Greenkeeper Mr Jay Dobson – Turfgrass Agronomist Mr Richard Windows – Turfgrass Agronomist WeatherSince March there has been very little growth due to low temperatures and cold northerly winds. Conditions on the day were generally dry, but cold at 5°C. 19mm of rain fell the day before. Visit Details
The Kings Course was presented well with attractive mowing patterns enhancing aesthetic quality. Grass cover to the greens was good and altered nutritional programmes combined with good sward species composition has helped reduce disease pressure over the last 2 years. The major issue with greens is from poor drainage performance and significant softening when wet. A combination of more intensive organic matter reduction and timely deep aeration, coupled with pipe drainage installation offers the solution for enhanced performance. To make a progress with the greens, it is essential aeration and organic matter reduction operations are implemented during favourable weather conditions. Executive Summary
Firmer and more consistent ball release characteristics to green aprons will be achieved with the extension of more intensive sand top dressing. Fairways offered authentic turf and playing conditions, but a programme of scarification and light feeding will enhance the consistency of lie further. Significant renovation and management of gorse, broom, woodland, grassland and heather is required to restore authentic heathland vegetation and enhance the wonderful landscape. Executive Summary (Cont.)
for excellence in sports surfaces Greens
Grass cover to the greens was generally good but scars from Graden scarification in March remained evident which was compromising ball roll qualities. Forcing growth with additional fertiliser and more refinement is required to perfect ball roll qualities for the season.
Sward species composition was good and offered a good blend of browntop bentgrass with annual meadow-grass in roughly equal proportions. Such species composition with sensible nutritional inputs has reduced disease pressure in recent years.
The main issue with The Kings Course greens are from poor drainage performance and soft underfoot conditions during wet periods and throughout the winter. This is compromising year round performance and the heathland character of the surfaces.
Poor drainage and underfoot softness is due to a combination of excessive organic matter in the upper soil profile (yellow arrow), shallow accumulations of sand top dressing (blue arrow) and heavy clay soil with poor natural drainage qualities to depth (red arrow). Both require rectification to improve performance.
Perennial ryegrass remains the main contaminant that compromise ball roll qualities. Rescue graminicide applications should be extended to all greens over the next few years. Intensive efforts have been made to manage organic matter with Graden sand injection (red arrow) and hollow coring (yellow arrow). These operations have delivered some improvements but to gain optimum effect more intensive treatments are required at more optimal times of the year and in combination with pipe drainage installation.
Earlier Graden operations combined with the lack of growth was resulting in compromised smoothness and trueness. Efforts are required to force some growth and increase ball roll qualities for main season play. Success with altered nutritional programmes using Symbio products has helped reduce disease pressure. Nitrogen inputs have been reduced from 200kg per hectare to 130kg per hectare over the past 2-3 years. Due to the commercial pressures at Gleneagles, maintenance operations to the greens have been compromised both in frequency and ideal timing. We need to address this situation to deliver progress in terms of improving year round playing performance and routine playing quality. Additional Observations & Comments
STRI Programme - Measurement Tools Smoothness and trueness Firmness Green Speed Firmness Soil Moisture
All the greens were consistent between each other, but significantly higher than the ideal target range for soil based greens of 15-30%. Following 19 mm of rain the previous day the poor drainage qualities of the greens were highlighted by the very high moisture values obtained. Localised very wet pockets e.g. back right of 15 th,16 th (50% & 57%) ad 18 th (50% and 53%) were evident. It is essential to reduce moisture retention by more intensive and timely maintenance operations to ensure turf and playing performance following wet weather is improved. Reducing moisture retention by organic matter reduction and pipe drainage is a key maintenance objective over the next few years. Soil Moisture Content
Due to very high soil moisture values, all the greens were well below the ideal target range of gravities for heathland golf courses. All the greens were consistently soft and ranged from 68g (18G) and 77g (6G). 16G was significantly softer at 60g and had lower values g to the rear and centre of the surface. All the surfaces (except 16G) were firm enough to avoid footprinting (normally above 70 gravities), but were certainly too soft for authentic heathland greens. While sufficiently firm to avoid significant footprinting, the firmness of the greens are low enough to cause deterioration under play and therefore ball roll qualities. Improving surface firmness at all times but especially following rainfall and during the winter by reducing moisture retention is critical to the future performance of the greens. Surface Firmness/Hardness
The smoothness and trueness values were well above the ideal target range for summer play. They were also higher than the acceptable range of 25mm/m that provides decent playing surfaces for the time of year. The combination of Graden grooves, underfoot softness and the lack of growth is the reason for compromised smoothness and trueness values. Green speeds were acceptable but on or below the target range of 8ft 6 in for routine play. Operations to encourage recovery combined with better growing conditions and additional refinement is necessary to improve ball roll qualities for main season play. Additional measurements later in the season will provide a better assessment of ball roll qualities at their summer best and this will help inform any changes to the routine refinement programme. Ball Roll Qualities
Organic Matter Content Notes Analysis at 0-10 and 10-20mm were taken to provide accurate assessment of organic matter in the immediate upper soil profile. Measurements at 20mm increments below provided an assessment of levels in the soil profile. The agreed target range was 3-5% at 0-20mm and less than 4% lower down. Organic Matter Content – Kings Course Loss on Ignition (%) 4G6G12G16G17G18G 0-10 mm mm mm mm
Levels are too high throughout the top 60 mm of the profile and are above the target range at each depth. Levels at 0-10, and mm are particularly high and should be the focus of targeted reduction. The strategy should involve Graden sand injection coupled with hollow coring 2-3 times a year. We should look to impact 25-30% of the surface each year via cultivation for the next 2-3 years coupled with intensive sand top dressing at a rate of 200 t/ha/yr. Using kiln dried sand which is brown in colour will help ensure the holes/grooves can be filled and visual disruption to play is minimised. Organic matter reduction should also be coupled with pipe drainage. Organic Matter Content Summary
Soil Chemical Analysis Notes Soil pH is within the desired range of for heathland soil based greens and requires no rectification. Soil phosphate was on the low side and would benefit from inputs during the spring and autumn to get levels to mg/l. This will help spring growth. Potassium inputs are satisfactory so sustain existing inputs. Soil Chemical Analysis – Kings Course pHP 2 O 5 (mg/l)K 2 O (mg/l) 4G G G G G G
for excellence in sports surfaces Greens - Recommendations
A more intensive organic matter reduction programme is required involving a combination of hollow coring and Graden sand injection scarification. Three renovation operations are scheduled between now and the end of the year with the target of impacting 25-30% of the surface. These operations should be achieved during favourable weather conditions and when recovery will be rapid so some disruption to the playing schedule will be required. Timely deep aeration using the Verti-drain fitted with 12mm tines and minimal heave would be beneficial to improve the structure of the underlying clay soil. This must be done when dry to gain optimal effect. Localised and trial use of the Gwazae air injection unit should be trialled to assess whether this improves drainage performance. Key Recommendations
A change from the existing Fife Silica FS9 Sand to a darker material would aid increased routine sand top dressing as it is less conspicuous at the turf base. The aim should be to supply sand at a rate of tonnes per hectare to the greens over the next few years. Due to the underlying soils, organic matter reduction and deep aeration must be coupled with pipe drainage installation to deliver the desired improvements to the greens. Plans should be made to insert pipe drainage at close spacing i.e. 2.5m centres in all the greens over the next few years. Sourcing suitable possible outlets will also be necessary as part of this process. Key Recommendations (Cont.)
Nutritional programmes using the Symbio products are working well, but the aim should be to further reduce nitrogen inputs over the next few years. The initial target being to get down to approximately 100kg per hectare per year. To accelerate recovery following the Graden work, some light liquid applications based on potassium nitrate in foliar form are required over the next few weeks. Key Recommendations (Cont.)
for excellence in sports surfaces Other Points of Discussion
Traffic routes to green surrounds were weak and worn which detract from presentation of green complexes and make recovery around greens difficult. More intensive maintenance involving hollow coring, sand top dressing, dwarf perennial ryegrass overseeding, deep aeration and increased feeding is necessary along with traffic protection where possible.
Where grass cover is stronger to surrounds, intensive sand top dressing coupled with Verti- draining is necessary to optimise surface drainage and avoid sward deterioration in wet weather and during the winter.
The fairways supported finely textured and authentically tight heathland lies. To optimise consistency and quality of lies further and reduce moss populations some liquid feeding (e.g. Farmura Porthcawl or similar) along with scarification and annual deep aeration would be beneficial.
The general quality of the vegetation to the rough is poor and does not fit with the heathland character of the course. Many areas are degenerating and require significant maintenance input to restore the heathland character of the course. This is an essential objective over the next decade.
As part of the heathland regeneration plan to the rough, intensive grassland management involving twice yearly cutting/collecting and scarification. This should ideally be extended to all rough grassland but at the very least to an 8-10 metre band to each hole, which can be termed ‘Golfing Rough’. This will provide thinner and wispier swards and aid pace of play.
Conifer plantation management is also necessary to certain areas to improve light and airflow as well as help improve surrounding grassland that has become thick and coarse due to the moisture retention from the trees.