Grass Clippings, 14th April

Grass Clippings by Peter Bradburn, Course and Grounds Manager

It is always pleasing to see projects completed successfully and, after the anticipation of the planning phase and the process of execution, to be on the other side with the satisfaction of knowing it was completed with everyone in the team's best effort and participation.

The Ladies' Open Gold Challenge Cup and Men's Centenary Putter weekend preparations are no exception with the amount of time and effort that it takes to get to this stage beginning each year in late October. We start with the fertility plan for the course for the coming year and plan for the renovation processes to time the grass growth for when we think it will be performing at its best for play.
You can never be absolutely correct in your assumption as the weather plays a leading part on this stage and, being a bit of a prima donna, the weather always likes to have the last word. With this in mind, we are very happy with the state of the course given the challenging spring we have faced so far.

I know everyone on the golf team are praying for warmer days and not just so they can get back into their shorts but also to stimulate more growth in the grass plant and achieve the exceptional, true and fast greens that we have staked our reputation on.
The key role in achieving these aims is to have consistent dry days and warm soil temperatures. As anyone who tuned in to watch the 80th edition of the US Master last weekend would have seen, the lightning fast greens of the Augusta National Golf Course are attributed to the meticulous work of the course Superintendent Brad Owen and the cast - one of the biggest crews amassed for a golf tournament worldwide. But, the critical ingredient to bring the greens to their zenith for the final day's play, is a good dollop of strong Georgia sunshine to dry those greens out. By the end of the Sunday evening they are teetering on being so stressed and close to a wilting point of no return, that they were flooded with water as soon as the cameras panned over to watch Danny Willett don the green jacket.

Another project we have been beavering away on at the Club for the last few weeks is the main entrance approach landscaping area which borders the Visitors' Car Park. Over the past few years there have been many comments about how tired and lacking of any real feature the area had become and so it was one of the items that the garden team was asked to address. A key principle of the new design is to try to segregate the area into different zones and highlight the area that pedestrians see as they enter the Club along with retaining much of the good planting that has been created in the past, towards the back of the area.
This has been achieved by using seasoned timbers planted at different height levels to create a wave formation that meanders across the area to give shape and form. The timbers allow views through, from front to back but as you walk towards the Club entrance the view is obscured becoming apparent later.

Using limestone rockery terracing, elevated and lower areas have been created so pockets of planting flow from one area to another. Currently seasonal bedding has been planted as a stop gap for spring but in the main season a more 'lush' form of planting will be adopted to vary the leaf texture and architectural form of plants to provide interest and improve the aesthetic merits of the entrance to the Club. Many Members have also pointed out that the magnolia at the main entrance now stands out as a focal tree when previously it was lost. The central point of the design is the three standing stones that have duel significance. They relate to the three principle sports the Club is renowned for: raquets, golf and croquet but they also signify the values that are the foundation of the Club: good sportsmanship; camaraderie among Members and family. The stones are a purple schist which is similar to, but harder than, slate material. They have various elements such as iron impregnated in them which adds to the colour textures. In the best principles of conservation of resources most of the materials employed have been recycled from previous garden incarnations.

Your garden
For the keen gardeners of the Club, now is lawn-care time. Apply a high-nitrogen fertiliser to your lawn now for a boost to the start of the season and improve the root vigour and leaf density. Now is a good time to apply specialist weed killers to your lawn where moss and weeds are a problem, apply following showers and not when rain is forecast. Over seed the lawn also if it is looking particularly bare after the long wet winter. Buy seed from a reputable garden store, generally one with a high turnover of stock so you can be confident that you're purchasing this year's seed and not older material which would have been sitting around on the shelf. Check trees for any branch damage, following the storms earlier this month, and inspect tree ties to make sure the tie is not cutting into the trunk or, conversely, too slack. Water annual bedding with a liquid fertilizer feed to try to prolong flowering through the month and into May.



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