Q. How often are the greens cut and at what height?
A. In the main growing season from mid May until the end of September they are cut every day unless weather conditions dictate otherwise. For the rest of the year, as necessary. In summertime the height of cut will go down to 4 millimetres rising to 6-8 millimetres during the winter.
Q. Why do we cut the greens by hand sometimes and not others?
A. During the autumn / winter period and early spring the greens are cut by hand on a regular basis to save the big machines driving around the green surrounds and to keep the weight off of the surfaces. They look aesthetically pleasing and our pedestrian mowers have “groomers” attached to them which cut the grass vertically and stands the plants up prior to them actually being cut, for a better tighter finish. Our triple mowers do not have this facility. For this reason, prior to big competitions, we try to cut with pedestrian mowers, but this is time consuming.
Q. Why are we rolling the greens with the turf iron?
A. Rolling the greens produces a smoother, truer roll as well as increasing green speed. It also allows us to maintain the grass at a slightly higher cut thus reducing the amount of stress applied to the plants, therefore increasing the health of the greens, making them more disease resistant and reducing input of fertilizers and irrigation. Rolling the greens also returns them back to good playability quicker after aeration. The turf iron is not used in very wet conditions as it could compact the greens.
Q. Why is it that when the greens start to grow, for a time, they become very uneven and bumpy?
A. This is because there are more than one species of grass within the swards, different species grow at different rates. Some start growing at slightly lower temperatures than others. Some species have deeper roots, so they are in soil that has not warmed yet and therefore do not start to grow until warmth gets down to that depth.
Q. What grasses make up the Pyecombe greens?
A. Fine leaved fescues (festuca) and bents (agrostis) and coarser annual meadow grass (poa annua) dominate the swards with some ingress of weed grasses, namely ryegrass and yorkshire fog. We are actively encouraging the fine grasses to establish by overseeding with these species and trying to create conditions that they prefer. By the sparing use of irrigation and nitrogen input and actively keeping the greens free draining and aerated we can try to discourage annual meadow grass dominance.
Q. Is it possible to lower the height of cut on the greens to increase the speed?
A. Yes, it is. However it does not last very long, too much leaf is removed and the plant can no longer produce enough food to live. Mowing at a height of 3 mm for any length of time (even just a few days rather than weeks) creates excessive stress and the grass dies. Thus the age old term the quick and the dead. The recognised way to increase green speed is to increase the height of cut to encourage the finer species of grasses and to regularly roll the greens. Shorter heights of cut only encourages poa annua to dominate swards, thus eventually leading to a deterioration in the quality of the putting surfaces.
Q. How often are the holes changed?
A. The holes are changed at least twice a week, more often if there is a competition.
Q. Who decides the pin position on the green?
A. The Managing Secretary, Professional and Head Greenkeeper meet each week to decide pin placement for matches and competitions, for everyday play a qualified greenkeeper will choose.
Q. How often do you spike the greens and why is it necessary?
A. More often than you might think as some types of spiking will be virtually invisible after the greens have been cut. Through spring and summer ideally once fortnightly with pencil tines and in the winter months every 3 weeks depending on the weather and growth with chisel tines. The one that produces the most disruption is when we Verti-drain. This makes 200 to 300mm deep holes as well as lifting the whole surface shattering the soil underneath. This is usually done 2 or 3 times a year, in spring and autumn.
Timing is critical, as the soil has to be firm but not too hard. If done whilst the grass is growing well the greens will have settled down in a few days. The operation where the holes remain open the most is hollow tining where a core of soil is removed approx 100mm deep. This operation is used to allow the exchange of soil and remove thatch.
And the reason for doing all this? The all important roots of the grass live in the spaces between the soil particles and a balanced mixture of air and water is needed for healthy living and nutrient uptake. Your feet plus maintenance equipment squashes those spaces together stopping not only healthy growth of the grass but reducing nutrient uptake and reducing drainage rates as well. This in turn creates an unbalanced air/water ratio and roots will die.
Q. Why do the greenstaff not cut the greens in number order?
A. The Course Management Policy states the greenstaff complete their daily tasks by the most productive route around the course.
This is 1,15,2,8,3,7,4,5,6,9,10,11,12,13,14,16,17,18,19. This conserves fuel and manhours by not doubling back to the same area of the course.