The process of caring for a golf course is long and complex. Through this page we hope to keep members informed on a regular basis of what is going on so John has everyone's backing and understanding.
10 Dec 2020 - Winter project 2: bunkers
Today was completion day on the new fairway bunkers on the 4th/13th fairway.
It's hoped these bunkers will give members and visitors a bit more of a challenge from the tee. The hole was quite a bland short par 4 beforehand, with a massive landing area. The bunkers are small but fair, tempting you to get somewhere in between them from the tee. Or if you are a bigger hitter it narrows your landing area when having a go at the green. Wind will also be a factor when deciding on how to play the hole.
All the turf & topsoil mix used to make both bunkers was harvested from the 9th fairway and the practice area.
Both bunkers will now be given time to 'bed in' until spring. They will remain G.U.R (ground under repair) until such time, then filled with sand.
Thank you for your understanding while the work has been carried out. I hope you enjoy the bunkers and don't end up in them too often.
3 Dec 2020 - Winter project 1: new 5th tee
The new 5th "tiger" tee has been completed. This new tee will give the option of going back from the previous maximum distance of 162 yards to between 190 & 198 yards.
Six tonnes of harvested topsoil was used to create the base and turf harvested from the 9th open ditch was used to complete the tee.
It will be managed through the winter months and will be ready for play in Spring 2021.
2 Dec 2020 - Greens Maintenance
As most will know, it has been mild so far this winter but very wet. The water table always increases in the winter months, none more so than on Skye. The course does tend to drain quickly, but it's still imperative to give the greens a helping hand.
Over Monday & Tuesday (Nov 30th & Dec 1st) the greens were solid tined. This is an essential part of greens maintenance, particularly during the winter months. There is no more important maintenance than aeration. It helps the greens breathe whilst also allowing water to pass through the profile more easily.
After solid tining was completed, the greens were given a vibe roll with our electronic hand mower. This helps to smooth out the playing surface.
Thank you for your understanding.
26 Nov 2020 - Greens Application
Today some may have seen me out spraying the greens. I was using a new product, an advanced soil penetrant. This is designed to minimise any disease outbreaks. It also disperses water from problem areas on the greens and can remove dew for a period of 20 to 27 days. Importantly, at this time of year with low overnight temps a regular occurrence, that prevents white frost from gathering on the greens' surfaces. Keeping the plant as healthy and strong as possible is a priority, all through the year.
This product is friendly to the environment and cost-effective. The spray solution is in clear form, with a bubble effect upon turf interaction, so the greens have had no artificial (plant extract) colouring. The bubbles absorb into the plant after around 30 seconds, displaying clearly what has been sprayed for a short enough period to allow another pass.
Today was the first application so I am looking forward to seeing the results. As anticipated the rain arrived in the afternoon. This was planned as the product needs "watered in". Hopefully, we all see the benefits soon.
25 Oct 2020 - Bag/Trolley Park
To try to minimise pathway congestion, the committee enquired if a permanent area could be created at the foot of the pathway leading to the gents' 1st tee. Having the option of using this new area or taking clubs or trolleys up to the 1st tee should minimise the chances of the pathway getting congested with golf bags and trolleys, particularly for golfers going from the 9th green area towards the clubhouse.
The new area was created on Friday, October 23rd, and is ready for immediate use. I'm sure you will see it on your way to the 1st tee. Please feel free to use it. It's been designed to take golf trolleys and carry bags, with a one way on/off system.
Thank you for your understanding. Pathways and bridges are all being looked at and will be given some TLC where possible over the winter months.
16 Oct 2020 - Height of Cut (HOC)
As you will be aware we have recently been conducting greens maintenance. This is vitally important to continually improve the greens.
The greens will recover quickly but you will notice they are gradually getting slower in pace. This is a result of the HOC (height of cut) being raised gradually over the past few weeks. This is common practice throughout greenkeeping.
Summer months provide the ideal weather and soil conditions to cut golf greens to their lowest desirable heights. It's a flip situation when moving into autumn and winter. Protection is the name of the game. In summer months greens are cut anywhere around the 4mm mark. Sometimes even lower than this depending on a whole range of factors. We did, at one point, have the greens cut at 3.6mm.
A common misconception is golf greens have to be cut super low in height to be fast. This couldn't be further from the truth. There's a wide range of factors involved in increasing speed.
Currently, the greens are being cut at 4.9mm. The HOC will continue to rise gradually to anywhere between 5.5 & 6mm. This will help the plant survive against cold air temperatures, cold soil temperatures, reduced sunlight hours, lack of growth, and disease pressure going through the winter months.
A standard golden rule is never to increase or decrease heights of cut instantly. Everything must be done gradually. This is vitally important.
Thank you for your understanding. If you ever have any questions please feel free to contact me on the course.
8 Oct 2020 - Fertiliser Application
This week greens maintenance has been in full swing. All efforts have been made specifically to continue improving the surfaces and drainage quality of our greens. This is a never-ending cycle, with many different methods.
After hollow coring, overseeding, and topdressing it's important to give the greens a bit of TLC. This was carried out today, after cutting and rolling, with our last granular fertiliser application of the year.
The circumference of a single granule of granular fertiliser, on this application, is between 0.5mm & 1.7mm. This is designed to make minimal impact on the putting surface. Granules are layered, each breaking down over time and working their way through the profile. Key to this process is moisture. I always try to get the application down just before rainfall, effectively washing it in.
Golf greens, and any fine turf, are exactly like us. They need regular maintenance to be in the best of health. This latest feed will provide the plant with a nice boost, whilst the iron element will guard against the cooler temperatures.
Thank you for your understanding. If you have any questions please feel free to chat with me on the course.
5 Oct 2020 - Hollow Coring
If you are on the course this week you will see that greens maintenance is in full swing. Disruption to play will be limited to one green at a time - with a temporary green in play while maintenance is underway.
I've mentioned a few times on this blog, but I'll do so again, aeration is THE most important element to improving surface quality. It relieves compaction, allows oxygen & nutrients to flow freely through the profile, and, furthermore, removes thatch.
To do all the above, the greens are being hollow cored. Afterwards, they will be overseeded, top dressed, and brushed in. With the current soil and air temperature still acceptable to sow seed, we should see new shoots appearing in 10-14 days time. This process will be boosted by an application of granular fertiliser when weather conditions allow.
This is all designed to give you, our members and visitors, the best possible putting surfaces to play on. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
I would like to thank all the members who volunteered their time. Everyone's help was very greatly appreciated.
12 Sep 2020 - Aeration
Many golf club members the world over often don't realise why it's important for the more aggressive maintenance work on greens to be done regularly. If that maybe describes you, please click on the image (left) for a USGA video, or follow the link below for a useful explanation from the turf-care industry on this side of the pond...
Today I started to prepare the locations for our temporary greens. I know they are not to everyone's liking but they are essential on many fronts. Coming towards Autumn and Winter we need to be prepared for adverse weather, challenging ground conditions, and greens maintenance taking place.
In a few weeks' time, weather permitting, the greens will be hollow cored, overseeded, and topdressed. This is a vital operation to make sure our greens keep improving going forwards. A temporary green will be in play while the operation takes place on the main green. This is obviously for safety and practicality reasons.
The temps were cut at tees HOC (height of cut) as I went around cutting them today. Over the course of the next few weeks the HOC will be gradually lowered to present a better temporary surface. White lines denote the temps and G.U.R (ground under repair) has been put in place. Should your ball currently land on the temps please take relief - free drop - to the side, not nearer the hole..
11 Aug 2020 - Progress with the Greens
This morning, before the three-hour drizzle shower, we had the perfect conditions to get down our 3rd granular fertiliser application (from Agrovista) for the season.
This should give the greens a nice boost post solid tining, provide much-needed nutrients & fight disease pressure. The greens won't be cut for a few days to allow the granules to break down and work their way into the profile. Thanks for your patience and understanding. This is all part of an ongoing process to improve the quality of our putting surfaces for you, the members, and visitors. Greens maintenance is extremely important. It's a very time-consuming process but it's absolutely essential and must always be a high priority.
Today I also had the pleasure of having a long-standing club member, Calum Beaton, drop by to give me a welcome hand. Calum sacrificed his free time to cut the rough and made a great job doing so. A big thanks for your time and work Calum, it's certainly appreciated.
3 Aug 2020 - The Dreaded Tining
As you will notice, this week I have begun to aerate the greens using a solid tine. This means I'm not removing anything from the green - unlike hollow coring - but merely punching solid holes into the surface of the green.
The purpose of aeration is to perforate the soil with small holes to allow air, water, and nutrients to penetrate to the grass roots. This helps the roots grow deeply and produce a stronger, more vigorous sward. The main reason for aerating is to alleviate soil compaction.
We had an incredibly wet winter, followed by a very dry spring. Added to that, for the last 5 weeks it hasn't stopped raining. This has resulted in a soft 1 - 1.5 inches below the surface and a solid band of dry soil underneath that. Water is struggling to pass through the soil profile, hence the need to aerate. This will also de-stress the sward from disease pressure.
I have used our new electronic greens mower, with the vibrating roller attachment, post solid tining. This will smooth out the surface and minimise disruption over the next few days. Thank you for your patience during this necessary work.
Special thanks to Calum Beaton who came along today and strimmed the tee tops for me. That's was greatly appreciated.
23 Jul 2020 - Combating Fusarium
As I'm sure you have heard or seen on the website blog, we encountered a disease outbreak on the 7th and 9th greens. The disease in question is fusarium. It's not nice and action needs to be taken immediately when outbreaks occur.
I chose to act by spraying chemical fungicide on all the greens, trying to prevent a mass outbreak all through the rest of our greens that had no signs of disease. Added to that, I've spiked the areas of outbreak (images attached) on the 7th and 9th, top dressed, and brushed. This two-pronged approach I'm hoping will check the disease.
This muggy, damp weather we are experiencing provides the perfect environment for outbreaks of most grass diseases to occur. Dew forms in late evening and coats itself on the greens until I come in early the next morning, removing it by cutting or with our new dew brush.
I will continue to monitor the situation. If you see me out spraying anything on the course, rest assured you are safe. There are stringent guidelines I must adhere too and all products used have a very low dosage compared to years gone by. Signage will always be placed at the clubhouse to make you aware of any form of spraying going on.
23 Jul 2020 - More about that moss
This week I've tackled one of the areas on our greens where moss was really prevalent. The image displays the right-hand side of the 1st/10th green.
As you may recall from an earlier blog, I mentioned the high percentage of moss on the greens. Last year when I started it was alive so it wouldn't have been highly visible. I couldn't attack these areas then for a variety of reasons. This spring, however, was the start of an ongoing programme to reduce the moss content. The greens were given a high dose of iron that killed the moss, thus giving us the black areas where it once thrived. The greens were then scarified, top dressed and overseeded.
My plan going forward is to slowly take back the dead black areas by spiking the greens. I can create seedbeds by spiking the greens which give the grass seed the perfect environment to germinate. These areas will then be top dressed and brushed in. After 10-14 days we should see new shoots of grass coming through. The larger areas will be done using machinery, and the smaller areas using hand tools.
Please bear in mind this is a slow methodical process. Its objective is to give you, our members and visitors, better putting surfaces going forward. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
20 Jul 2020 - Not astroturf greens, honest!
If you were on the course today, you'll have noticed the odd colour of the greens.
Whilst I was going round cutting the greens this morning I noticed some small areas of disease (Fusarium) on the 7th and 9th greens. Most of the areas directly around the greens also have some pockets of disease (Red thread). The weather conditions we have been experiencing lately are common for Autumn, not July. By that I mean heavy dew in the morning, daily rainfall and close, muggy conditions. This is the perfect weather combination for disease outbreaks.
Dew starts to form on the greens anywhere around 8 or 9pm when the sun starts to fade away. Effectively the dew sticks to the plant all night, until I come in early the next morning and remove it by cutting or with our new dew brush (picture attached). As you can imagine, damp, wet conditions for a prolonged period of time won't do anything the world of good.
There are different ways to combat disease. Today I chose the chemical spraying route (Intertebloxy) as I had some left over from last year. You will notice the greens appearing "very green" over the next few days. The term "chemical" sometimes scares people. Please do not worry, it's not going to harm you. The chemicals are absorbed quickly into the plant. Hopefully this application works and we keep the disease at bay.
7 Jul 2020 - Latest Contraption
The latest method for golf ball retrieval is being trialed this week. As you know we have had two previous methods that had both positive and negative elements. No method in place until we return to golf in its "original" form is going to please all golfers. However, the feedback so far has been very encouraging on our latest "Covid-19 method" of safe ball retrieval. You simply pull on the lever with you putter and out pops the ball.
This one has been brilliantly put together by a committee member in his spare time. We owe him a great deal of thanks for this. I have found the committee at IOSGC to be extremely helpful and forward-thinking since my appointment. Recently, through these challenging times, many have put in excessive amounts of unpaid voluntary work that should be commended, all for the benefit of the members.
Please don't hesitate in contacting the committee or me to give us your feedback on our latest gadget.
6 Jul 2020 - Staying Sharp
We recently conducted a regrind of some machinery cutting cylinders & bottom blades. This is standard practice, normally carried out annually. Ideally, you want to be doing this before the cutting season (early Spring) but, due largely to Covid-19, this was delayed. For obvious reasons sharp cutting cylinders and bottom blades are essential, allowing each machine to cut at maximum efficiency. This not only aids course presentation but helps minimise potential disease outbreaks. Cutting with blunt cylinders & bottom blades does the grass & machine no favours at all.
As you can imagine it is a time-consuming task. Machinery needs stripped down, parts removed, checks carried out, and cutting units hoisted up on to the grinding stations. Then all that in reverse once the task has been completed. The unit of a fairway mower, for example, is not light at all. I was lucky to have Brian return to assist. He really did a fantastic job.
26 Jun 2020 - John's doing his rain-dance!
Today was, according to the projected forecast, the optimum time to apply a batch of fertiliser (summer feed) on the greens. It rained through the night and stopped as I started at 0530 this morning - perfect damp conditions to apply any form of fertiliser. Now, where are my forecasted showers?!
Fine turf, like golf greens, needs four keys things to sustain itself: oxygen, light, food, and moisture. Very much like humans! In NW Scotland, water is normally in abundance. We do get long "summer" days & nights. We also have lots of airflow around the greens which is ideal. What we have to do is provide the greens with food. This keeps them healthy and limits stress and disease. When mowing heights are so low and having lots of footfall, it's essential that greens are kept in as good condition as possible. This in turn provides a better putting surface.
This morning I applied what's called a granular fertiliser. It's exactly as it sounds: really fine circular granules that are coated with different components. Once applied, these slowly dissolve, each layer of the granule working its way into the soil profile, providing the required nutrients. Hopefully, they're then washed in with a shower or two! It's applied using a fertiliser barrow. This has to be calibrated to give the correct dispersion rate as per the supplier's instructions.
You may previously have seen me apply a liquid fertiliser. It's good to have both forms in supply. Some weather conditions or on course circumstances require spraying over granular applications. All applications are to provide you with the best playing conditions and keep our greens nice and healthy.
7 Jun 2020 - Verticutting
A few more words of wisdom from John, this time about what work he is currently doing on our greens...
Our new Infinicut electric greens machine really is brilliant. I gave all the greens a very light verticut on Thursday morning using the new machine. Not only does it cut the greens extremely well, it also has interchangeable heads (cassettes). This allows me to carry out different jobs using only this one machine. The photos show the machine set up for verticutting.
Verticutting is exactly as it sounds: cutting in a vertical motion rather than the conventional horizontal motion. This cleans the green’s surface of dead grass and matter (thatch). In turn, that allows the healthy grass to breathe and water & nutrients to pass through the profile. The blades actually cut into the surface level. I set the depth accordingly, depending on ground-conditions and the recent or impending weather.
The process stands the grass up vertically, so the next conventional cut is clean and crisp. This increases the green’s speed as there is now less drag on the putting surface.
I would really like to use it more aggressively but at the moment the greens are very firm. Once the greens soften I can become more aggressive. The tiny channels the blades make can be over-seeded and then top dressing applied - ideal for reducing the size of the dead (black) areas of moss.
3 Jun 2020 - Hole Contraptions - mark2!
Since last Friday we have been putting into holes made shallow with old CDs so we can pick the ball out without touching anything except the ball. They proved successful for the short term, though we've probably all had a few "bounce outs"!
However, due to a mixture of the elements and human interaction, the "discs" are no longer proving to be viable. They were needing fixed or replaced regularly.
26 May 2020 - What has John been up to in our absence?
We asked John for his opinion about the moss in our greens. This was his answer...
"On my first walk round the course, before my interview, I immediately noticed we have a high moss content on the greens. Moss is invasive, and when it's green, like last year, it's not overly noticeable to the majority of golfers' eyes.
"It's also stubborn, and it's a slow process to eradicate it but well worth the effort. Regular applications of iron-based products kill the moss, then it's continual coring, scarifying, overseeding, and top dressing. Moss sucks up rainfall and moisture, then spreads horizontally into spaces in close proximity that it's slowly killing off by starving them of sufficient moisture.
"Prior to starting around this time last year the season was already 'panned out' for me in a way. Get to know the machinery, the course, make it look as good as possible & use the fertiliser that had already been paid for and delivered. This year it's different. It's operation 'annihilate moss'! Long term it will be great."
So, when you visit the course and you see black areas on the greens, know that this is for our long-term benefit.