AUTUMN LEAVES MAY be falling but the workload out on the course is certainly not dropping. The next couple of months will see the start of the autumn aeration work. The greens will be deep- tined to 14″ deep followed by regular deep slitting to loosen up the compaction caused by many feet and machinery in order to get as much air into the soil as possible.
The height of cut at which mowers are set will also be raised to ensure there is enough grass cover to last the winter months. As growth slows down with the shorter days the frequency of mowing is reduced. The greens have been cut every day since early May and this will now go down to three times a week, then once a week depending on the weather and how the growth is.
The greens and the tees have all been oversown together with any bare areas of fairway. Fairways and tees will continue to be cut at least once a week until growth tails off.
Autumn fertiliser will be applied to the tees and a turf hardener applied to the greens. All greens will be sprayed with a pesticide to kill off leatherjacket grubs (the grub of the crane fly). Leatherjackets are laying their eggs now and, as they favour moist areas, greens provide the perfect target for them.
The grubs live on a diet of grass roots and can be devastating. A close eye will be kept on other areas too for any sign of activity such as fungal disease appearing in damp autumn conditions.
There are roughly four miles of ditches and streams running across the two courses and now is the time to give them that last strim out to make sure that the winter rain can flow unimpeded. New winter tee mats are being installed on some holes of the West Course and, over the next few months, repairs will be made to any damaged area of tee boxes and some will have levelling work undertaken.
The irrigation system will be put to bed after another busy year for it, pumping out half a million gallons of water from the reservoir. The rainwater harvesting side of things will be serviced to make sure as the rains come in water will be pumped up to the reservoir, which now provides home for some attractive residents (see photograph above.)
As it is autumn, leaves will be the next major battle with daily clearing of greens and surrounds and this is also the time worms come to the surface to drag leaves into their burrows for winter food. Unfortunately they leave a deposit behind in the form of worm casts a sticky mixture of mucus and soil.
These not only smear on the putting surface but are the perfect seed bed for weed seeds. As all worm killers (vermicides) are banned, greens and tees have to be swept daily. At Ashdown a suppressant is used that will be sprayed on badly affected areas that will keep them deeper underground for a while.
It is also time for a final trim of hedges surrounding the courses and the topping of the long rough areas such as the carries. And once that is done it is time for one last clearance of weeds that have sprouted over the warm summer months.
And, with the Treasurer working hard on next year’s budgets, it is time to estimate any capital expenditure on fixtures, fittings and equipment. At the moment it is very much, all go!