August Maintenance

General Maintenance

Keep mowing the greens frequently and set your mowers to their summer heights. As play increases and levels of competitions and societies do likewise, you will be required to keep the quality of the playing surfaces high while striving for good green speeds and a consistent roll. It may be tempting to drop the cutting heights to achieve these things but try not to do so. As an alternative

look at using rollers as part of your maintenance programme as these will not place as much stress on the sward.

Always remember to not bring the cutting heights down to more than one third of the total height of the plant at any time. It is also vital to make sure that as the mowers are being used a lot at the moment the blades are sharp - this will prevent disease occurring due to pressure. If disease does appear, then use your experience and judge whether it will 'grow out' in good growing conditions or if it will get worse.

Control horizontal growth by regularly brushing and verticutting every two to four weeks depending on your own situation. This should also help you control thatch accumulation as the growing season continues. If you groom and brush the greens before mowing to stand horizontal growth up before you mow, you will encourage a denser and more attractive sward.

Change holes once or twice a week but this will depend on how much golf is being played and competition requirements. Your first judgment when placing holes is to give fair results. Study the design of the hole as the architect intended it to be played, look at the length of the shot into the green and how it could be affected by conditions on the day such as wind, other weather conditions, turf conditions and holding quality of the green.

You must make sure there is enough putting surface between the hole and the front and the sides of the green to accommodate the required shot. If the hole requires a long iron or wood shot into the green, then the hole should be placed deeper on the green and further from the sides than if the hole calls for a short pitch shot. It is always recommended that the hole should be at least four paces from any edge of the green.

If a bunker is close to the edge of the green, or if the ground slopes away from the edge then increase that distance, especially if the shot is likely to be a long one. Keep in mind being fair to those golfers who play a decent shot but just miss the green.

Heading into August, grass growth levels will now be reaching a yearly peak, meaning a lot of mowing and a need for essential nutrients to be supplied. Monitor playing surfaces closely for any signs of nutrient stress and use this, and results of soil samples taking in the spring, to choose the fertiliser required to suit your course. Increased rate of growth will also lead to increased thatch accumulation so it is important to control this well.

You may also need to consider moisture management. Many greenkeepers now have weather stations which keep them updated on potential evapotranspiration rates within the sward. Don't let the soil dry out too much and keep irrigation practices as natural as you can. Soak the playing surface every few days rather than watering to a set schedule. Use moisture meters to help you understand as much as you can about what is happening underneath the surface.

Tees: You are unlikely to need to mow more than two times per week unless it is wet and growth stays strong. Cut at around 12mm but raise this for tees that are not irrigated and are suffering from drought stress. Playing levels will remain high so daily movement of tee markers and divoting regularly is advised to maintain good surface quality and presentation.

Additional watering should be enough to aid recovery and maintain turf vigour but also will help develop a good root structure. Solid tine with no more than 13mm width tines are an option to help move water from the surface.

Keep the surfaces clean and free from divots as well as picking up any broken tees on a daily basis while make sure all course accessories are cleaned and maintained properly.

Fairways: Definition between fairways and light rough can fade in August due to the dry condtions and much will dependent on how much rain falls, unless the fairways are irrigated. You will likely be mowing less frequently than in June and July but the height of cut will be the same - for most courses this will be between 14mm and 17mm. Divot damage may take some time to recover at this time of year, so you may need to divot the most badly affected areas.

Rough: You'll be mowing the rough areas less frequently this month unless it has been particularly wet and growth continues. The main areas of rough will be rotary cut at around 50mm. If you have any areas of intermediate rough, cut these weekly but limit to one or two 'bands' wide. You should continue to cut areas of deeper rough, aiming to collect the grass and lower the nutrient levels to encourage finer and slower growing grasses to thrive.

Keep an eye on playing quality standards (PQS) as well as the aesthetic qualities within the sward. Many factors could reduce either within the putting or playing surface. Closely monitor them and this will provide you with an excellent understanding of your course.  By recording your findings you can compare results from previous years. You can also gain insight from checking practical elements like consistency and height of cut using macroscopes and prisms.

This month, your bunker maintenance will see you continue to rake by hand or machine. As growth slows down, there will be only very slight edging or trimming but continue to focus on removing stones and weeds. Check sand depth and distribution regularly and if you have persistent weed problems on sand faces then spot spray with glyphosate, taking care not to let any drift onto the banks.

Agronomy

This is now an ideal time to apply organic fertiliser. Two months of longevity means an application now will see you through to October, by which time it will be time for an autumn feed. Use Maxwell Turf Food Myco2 4-6-12+4%MgO to provide a hit of phosphorous, potassium and magnesium - perfect for plant resilience and colour without the amount of nitrogen that would stimulate excessive soft lush growth. The combination of mycorrhizal fungi with the phosphorous content  makes this excellent as a fertiliser when sowing seed.

While there may have been a risk previously of extreme drought stress, that risk can now be said to have passed and in any case, August usually sees plenty of rainfall. This moisture can combine with warmth and humidity to stress the plant from different directions. It is now very important to aerate in order to keep the ratio between soil and oxygen in balance. Use 8mm needle or 12mm standard tines to a depth of 200-300mm with a vertical aerator to let the soil breathe. You can also combine this with a pass on a weekly basis from a Star or Sarrel Tine aerator. This will increase the volume of aeraton into the sward.

You can carry on using polymer and penetrant wetting agents to manage soil water percolation and retention by getting the water moved away from the surface and deeper into the plant profile where it will be available when it gets hot and sunny.

We have experienced unseasonably high disease pressure in July and there are no signs that this will abate in August, with microdochium patch and anthracnose the things to look out for. Heritage Maxx fungicide is recommended to use as a preventative and early curative. Its systematic action means it is a sound choice during the growing season as well as being a good preventative before turf renovations. Brush and switch regularly, trying to keep the leaf blade dry, as this will be your first line of defence against disease developing and if it humid, then red thread may also be an issue.

Seaaweed will boost soil flora and it primes the plant to stand up against environmental stress as well as extending the longevity of any fertilisers used. However, it pays to be aware that is also excellent food and stimulation for fungi to make sure if you apply it, you time it to boost good fungi and not pathogenic ones. Keep an eye on the weather with your fungicide treatments - in brief, don't apply when fungal disease is active, apply about a week after you have applied fungicide. You would be well advised to apply with some Chelated Iron as this will strengthen plant cell walls.

Weeds, pests and disease

Weeds grow actively in August necessitating the use of selecting herbicides. You will get most effective use out of these when the plant is actively promoting growth and always remember to follow manufacturers' guidelines.

Undertake any damage caused by moles and rabbits as and when required.

Keep an eye on any attacks of fungal disease and use approved fungicides to treat any outbreaks. Scarring of the playing surface will usually be diminished as grass growth is dominant and vigorous in August, so you may not to use as much fungicide. You might still want to apply a preventative fungicide treatment in the build-up to important matches or competitions.

Be on the lookout for crane flies. Adults emerge from pupae in the soil in the late summer, while females mate and lay eggs in turfgrass within 24 hours. These hatch into wormlike larvae which are often called leatherjackets. They feed on roots and crowns of plants during autumn and spring. While they mostly remain underground, they can feed on the parts of plants above ground on damp and warm nights. In the winter, they stay in the soil but will only feed when the temperature rises. They pupate in mid to late spring just below the soil surface and the life cycle begins again when adults emerge in late summer and autumn.

Machinery & Materials

Any golf club will have made significant investment over the years in its portfolio of machinery, with mowers among the highest areas of expenditure.

Therefore, it is important to look after and maintain these pieces of equipment and carry out repairs and servicing on a regular basis, making sure your staff are also trained in this area.

Most clubs have wash down facilities and it is important to be in the habit of inspect and clean machinery after use. Keep consumables for your machinery well stocked up and ensure any damaged or worn parts are replacd immediately.

Make sure you have provided enough storage space for machinery, which need to be secured with good locks. Record make and models, or even better, take pictures of your equipment as well.

Other tasks this month

  • Empty bins and refill ballwashers
  • Remove broken tee pegs as these can damage machinery
  • Keep tee markers and other course furniture pieces clean and tidy
  • Trim hedges/inspect trees
  • Edge/mow bunkers
  • Rake/weed bukers daily
  • Divot tees daily and fairways when possible
  • Keep golfers away from areas under renovation
 
 
Dennis Mowers