Too much fertiliser will tend to stimulate top growth to the detriment of the roots and overfeeding of nitrogen in the autumn period should be avoided as this will only encourage fungal diseases such as Corticium and Fusarium. It is also important to control the levels of phosphate used as this tends to encourage Poa annua.

At the beginning of the season the greens and tees should receive a well balanced spring/summer fertiliser such as G9 Fine Turf Iron Booster 12-3-9 which should be applied evenly at 70g/m2.  This dressing can be obtained in the form of a slow release fertiliser which will stimulate root growth and help to thicken the sward without promoting a flush of growth.

During the summer months as conditions demand, it will be necessary to apply either the same fertiliser at a lower rate or another lower analysis granular or liquid fertilisers such as Basfoliar Turf Complete 9-4-6 to maintain active growth.

Golf fairways will benefit from a complete slow release spring/summer granular fertiliser such as GSR Tri-Phase 18-3.5-8

THE EXPERT’S OPINION

Gwynn Davies, originally from Malawi, has an agricultural background and has worked in the amenity, horticulture and greenkeeping industry for nearly 20 years.  He has a BSc (Hons) degree from Myerscough College and has worked at The Mere Golf Resort for a total of seven years – the last four spent as the club’s Course Manager.

Prior to joining The Mere, Gwynn was an agronomist and regional advisor for the STRI in the Thames Valley region.  In 2005-4 he completed the Ohio State Intern Program, spending 18 months in Southwest Florida gaining warm season grass management experience.

Gwynn has played a key greenkeeping role at two Open Championships (in 2012 and 2013) and at the Walker Cup in 2015.  He has also played a major part in hosting the R&A Regional Open Qualifiers at The Mere over the last seven years.

The key to successful golf course management is to remain flexible, to adapt to prevailing and preceding weather and soil conditions, to be open to new ideas, and to maintain detailed records of how and when each part of the course has been managed.

Developing a detailed and pre-planned over-seeding, fertiliser and maintenance programme which meets the specific needs and challenges of your course is the first port of call for any successful golf course manager.  But it is equally important to accept that adverse or untimely weather conditions and unexpected disease pressures will make it necessary, on occasion, to completely re-think and re-write your plans.  Flexibility is key.

Improvising and adapting the daily workload is vitally important, as is the willingness to listen to what your colleagues, club members and visiting players are telling you.  Just like you, they want the course to be in the best possible condition.  Treat them as an extra set of eyes and ears and you’ll have a better understanding of how the course is playing and which areas need additional care and attention.  You’ll also get a better feel for which course management techniques are delivering the desired results.

Seed reps and fertiliser experts are another valuable source of information.  With access to the latest research data and a wealth of experience from courses up and down the country, they can shed light on many of the common problems encountered by greenkeepers on a daily basis.  Don’t be afraid to ask for their advice or to talk to them about innovative products and the latest cultivars.  After all, they too have a vested interest in seeing your course perform to the best of its potential and might be able to offer a small piece of advice that makes a huge difference to the way you manage your facilities.

In conjunction with the ability to constantly adapt to changing conditions, so too is it important to maintain accurate records of how each part of the course has been managed.  By keeping detailed records, you will be able to look back and evaluate what has worked well and what has been less beneficial.  Next year’s management plan can then be adjusted and improved accordingly.

Gwynn Davies

Golf Course Manager, The Mere Golf Resort, Cheshire