With it being April now, hopefully all cultural maintenance has now been carried out. With temperatures beginning to rise, hollow coring, scarifying and any other work if not carried out already should be done in the next couple of weeks. Followed by a good topdressing. If you do hollow core, make sure you fill the holes to the very top, do not leave holes open too long or this will lead to a bumpy surface when the holes close. (When you hollow core, you are removing thatch which needs to be replaced with clean, dry material).
The frequency of mowing will start to increase now but I would suggest keeping height of cut slightly high until the first feed has kicked in and the coverage/sward of grass is good and healthy, there is no need to start stressing greens with excessive height of cut or excessive mowing this early in the season. Also, if you use a groomer I would wait until May before using it and only use on weekend days to speed the greens up. Excessive use of a mechanical groomer on pitch and putt greens will only lead to stressing of the turfgrass which will lead to problems such as moss, scalping and diseases. This is particularly prevalent on the clean-up lap especially on greens with slopes. This will stop a ring of moss developing on the outside of your green. Make sure to do a clean-up lap only every second or third time you cut.
When mowing, make sure to mow in a different direction every time. If mowed in the same direction everytime the turfgrass will develope a nap and the grass will just lie down rather than be cut.
Although changing holes may seem simple enough a lot of clubs wait too long before changing positions. This leads to smaller holes and raised cups particularly if you have soft greens. There is a rule regarding the size a hole should be. I recommend changing 6 holes per week so over the period of 3 weeks all holes will be changed. This also means every week the course is slightly different for competitions.
Now is the time to get the first Spring feed applied. If on a spraying programme, a 6-month granular base feed can be used to start and then lead into your regular spraying every 3 to 4 weeks. I strongly recommend every club no matter how good or bad your greens are to get a soil sample done. Contact your chemical supplier to avail of this. For a small fee, you will learn the make-up of your greens which could explain problem’s you have with certain greens and more importantly you will receive a nutrient programme specifically designed to your greens based on the results.
LASTLY ON GREENS, DO NOT START WATERING YOUR GREENS. AFTER ALL THE RAIN WE HAVE HAD MOISTURE LEVELS WILL BE HIGH.
After the wear and tear of winter I would recommend clubs give their fairways/rough a granular feed. A 6-month outfield granular application will do the job. This will help recovery and drive the growth on and will help supress the onslaught of weeds which will encroach on areas left weak from winter play particularly around the greens. To give an idea of amount required, 10 bags will cover the Old County course. If you do not have the finances to do the whole course, I’d recommend doing a lap or two around each green. Make sure to blow off any excess fertiliser they may land on the green.
During the month of April and into May you will see an increase in weeds, more so in Daisy’s and Buttercups. It is possible to get outfield granular fetiliser with a weedkiller incorporated.
Contact your supplier for more details. Another more expensive option is to hire a company to do a blanket spray of your course. Prices can vary from approx E650 and up. If getting this done wait until early May, if done to early more weeds may grow after initial application.
The forgotten part of the course, bunkers, need just a little bit of work to be maintained properly. After the winter a lot of them will be rock solid. Start by giving them a good strimming and edging. Then give them a good digging and raking to see how much sand is actually in the bunker. If sand is required, I recommend using topdress sand. Its less expensive than bunker sand and can easily be brushed into the green after play.
Best of luck for the season.