With the annual hollow coring of the greens now almost completed, attention for the month of October largely turns to nutrient input and timing of same in order to maintain sward vibrancy and colour over the winter period of negligible to no growth. On the greens this manifests itself in the first granular application since earlier in the year with particulate penetration of the greens canopy aided greatly by the presence of the coring holes. This is followed by a light application of liquid stimulants prior to the last application of USGA approved sand which would approximately equate to being in the order of 20% of volume of that which has been applied in the last week. As a side note, we may again treat the greens with a marine based substrate that works complementary to the natural biostimulants included in the course nutrient program for the off season. A higher than average rainfall for October will be the main determining factor in this regard.
Of late we have been leaning towards a greater use of seaweed extract in our nutrient program on tee boxes, and especially so in any given 20 day time span where the mean temperature fails to breach 12°C. Although more expensive than the traditional granular based fertilisers, they avoid an excessive flush of growth in the first four weeks post application and contribute to a more sustainable overall system. We find their efficacy is more notable in periods of low growth whereby colour retention can be symptomatic of the health of the grass plant. Tangentially, over the winter, we may move some of the white tee markers back to the blue boxes to aid in spreading the wear and tear; most notably on 14 where the reduced hours of sunlight coupled with the shade from adjacent trees conspires to make the white tee box on 14 the most susceptible to duress from traffic.
Over the past number of months we have been exploring the feasibility of accelerating the development of an on-course practice range. This has proved more feasible due to the influx of new members over the past year together with substantial expressions of interest from prospective new members for the year 2012. The location of same will be to the rear of the ninth hole, run parallel to the first fairway, and end short of where the topdressing sand is stockpiled prior to its use on the course. Length wise it will measure approximately 240 yards, incorporating in total a maximum of 1.5 acres, and is sited as such so that it will form part of the overall golfing complex. As a by the way, although the practice area's location and directional placement means that there is no actual need for a surrounding fence with high netting, this also will be installed so as to protect staff who will be using the land to the rear and side of the practice area in the course of carrying out their course maintenance duties. Furthermore, it is important to add that foremost in our thinking is that the most vital aspect of building a practice range should be that players should not have to contend with hitting balls into the prevailing wind. As is the case at other driving ranges, the golf balls used will be of a standard that ensures no balls will be able to be hit outside of the boundary fence. The practice area should prove a useful facility for players to get sufficiently warmed up prior to commencing play on the course as well as providing an adequate environment for the now regular golf lessons held over the Summer period which have proved immensely popular with young people in the Cregmore area. Preparatory work has commenced, with a planned for completion date early in the New Year. The bringing forward of this commencement date will have implications on the the time schedule for the construction of the planned putting green.
As a final note, it is something of a great source of pride to me when I meet other greenkeepers and invariably the discussion turns to pitchmarks after the weekends play, that I can always say that our greens are almost identical Sunday evening as they were Sunday morning such is the diligence shown by our members. This is not the case Saturday evening though, owing to the presence of particular societies/am-ams and general casual play. I have to say, it's at times difficult to reconcile how some visiting players can be so conscientious about not standing on the line of another person's putt, yet have no apparent qualms about leaving a small crater behind them on the putting surface. With that in mind, we have constructed a sign for the more casual/non member golfer explaining what a pitchmark is, how to repair it, and linking the act of repairing a pitchmark to actual player etiquette, rather than using the approach of asking people to protect a course they have no particular tie to. It may prove beneficial.