Annual Course Report December 2015 As stated in our end of year report for 2014 the plan for the course was (a) to continue the improvement in course quality and standards of presentation and definition, (b) to try and improve the condition and appearance of the waterway/ponds. This was to be achieved by the continuous implementation and development of the course management programme. The weather pattern this year was completely different to 2014. In the first quarter of the year a cold spell delayed growth by approximately two weeks but by mid April the greens had made excellent progress and had almost fully recovered from the aeration treatment. The fairways were also in great condition with good turfgrass development despite the delay in growth. However, even late into May growth had been slower than normal due to poor weather conditions, particularly the very cold night-time temperatures. This was followed in June by very low rainfall (25mm versus the monthly average of 71mm) which resulted in a soil moisture deficit of 60mm that adversely affected grass growth and produced drought conditions resulting in the browning of green surrounds, fairways and tee boxes. The fact that the turfgrass recovered rapidly once 47 to 60mm of rain had fallen in July was due to the growth regulator treatments that maintained turfgrass condition and resistance to drought stress. Unusually, the course maintenance programme continued into October and November with regular cutting of tees , fairways, rough and green complexes. This was due to the above normal temperatures experienced resulting in strong turfgrass growth and development. For instance, the average daily temperature for the first two weeks of November was 11C against a normal monthly average of 7.2C. However these conditions led to extremely high disease pressure from Microdochium. As a result this disease attacked all the greens to varying degrees but was brought under control with a fungicide treatment programme. All greens are expected to recover fully from the damage caused. A number of new procedures were added to the greens’ programme this year. Air injection to depths of 7 and 10 inches into the root zones reduced compaction and increased percolation rates through the root zones. This allowed water to penetrate faster into and through the root zone and the easier exchange of gases. Another innovation was the control of the amount of nitrogen applied over the year to the greens. This development is due to a relationship between temperature, growth potential and nitrogen uptake of the turfgrass, i.e. Growth Potential of 100% at 20%C requires 3.6gm/sq. m. Average monthly temperatures in Ireland vary between 5.1C in January to a high of 15.7C in July. The aim of this is to provide the turfgrass with the exact amount of Nitrogen it requires for it to achieve it’s maximum Growth Potential each month. Controlling the Nitrogen input this way not alone saves on cost but should assist in reducing disease incidence, as too much Nitrogen produces soft tissue which is easily attacked by disease. Following a review towards the end of last year with the Water consultant, it was decided to treat our waterways and ponds a little more vigorously while at the same time not interfering with, or damaging the environment or wildlife. This has been achieved and there was a noticeable improvement in general. However Algae remains our major problem and will continue to be so. In 2015 we had a total of 10 treatments carried out, compared to 14 in 2014, but this is purely as a result of the different weather patterns we experience this year.
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