26. august, 2021
As we have written you before, we have a very strong focus on making our great golf courses even better. We have invested heavily in the new water reservoir, we continually try and improve the layout, and we will keep looking for all sorts of ways to improve the quality.
In this newsletter we would like to share some thoughts about our greens.
The putting surfaces are the most important part of the golf course and the area of the course which the greenkeepers spend the most resources. It is also the most sensitive because of the nature of the fine turfs used and the extremely low hights in which the grass is cut.
It is a very fine and tricky balance between creating healthy grass plants with strong roots and a controlled amount of organic matter (thatch) and producing fast firm surfaces that are optimal for players.
At The Scandinavian our philosophy is and will remain “health first”.
In our region, a turf problem caused by unhealthy grass plants cannot simply be quickly recovered like regions with warmer climates and huge choice of available chemicals. The colder temperatures and shorter growing season mean recovery time can be slow. We have seen recently on hole 11 just how difficult it is to recover the green surface from a problem.
What does that mean for golfers?
To create healthy grass plants on the greens, it means that at certain time of the season the plant must be protected. This can be in the spring when frosts are evident, in summer when the conditions are dry and irrigation water is required or in the autumn / winter when the growth in minimal because of the soil temperatures.
Protecting the greens is done in many ways and the correct use of fertilisers, aeration practices and continual top dressing all helps create a healthy environment but increasing the height of cutting and therefore stress on the leaf is also essential during these periods.
What can happen if you don’t do this?
Without correct maintenance practices on the greens and protection this fine turf, its inevitable something severe and damaging will occur. I am sure we have all seen pictures of greens covered with disease, mould or moss and this type of problem in our region could damage 2-3 months of our short season.
Like with all living things, nothing is guaranteed and there is no specific timeline for this and sometimes greens can continue to perform well for many years without good maintenance practice. However, the common view shared by all top greenkeepers is this is “pure luck” and is the reason the best continually maintain their greens in a safe and conservative way.
The Scandinavian Greens Cycle
The life of the surface of a green goes through a relatively consistent cycle each year. This cycle can vary slightly depending on the weather but not hugely. We use this cycle to predict the time of year with the best conditions and this is the time of year when we choose to play our biggest club competitions (June, August, September) and aim to produce our best performing greens. Like Augusta in April rather than November!
During these periods when the conditions are optimal, growth on the greens is consistent and roots are often deepest, that is the period where the greens can be cut at their lowest and green speeds are often fastest. (Approximately mid-May – end Jun / August and September)
This is also the reason why we don’t play our biggest events in April, November, or July. During these periods the fine turf areas need protection from the cold temperatures, frosts or the opposite high temperatures and drought periods. During these times we choose to protect our greens often resulting in slightly slower surfaces.
We anticipate that during August and September you will now enjoy the best period for the greens whilst we play our biggest club tournaments.
What will happen to our greens in the coming years?
Our greens will never be the 100% pure Bent grass surface they were when newly built and the natural influx of poa annua grass will continue slowly. As the greens get older and more played, they require more maintenance to produce the same quality surfaces.
In 2020, over 32.000 rounds were played across the courses compared to less than 18.000 in 2017 and even fewer in the clubs’ early years. We also, now enjoy a season which in the last few years has been 4-6 weeks longer in the autumn / winter, this additional traffic on the greens during this period create additional challenges.
However, our greens are built to the highest USGA specification which is one of the reasons why we can continue to enjoy them in heavy rain periods and enjoy the good surfaces we enjoy currently for the 8-9 months we are open, and this can continue with quality maintenance practices.
Our goal remains the same, to produce the very best putting surfaces possible with good firmness, true roll, and good coverage for the longest period possible whilst always keeping a healthy plant to avoid major problems.
We believe strongly that this philosophy and the good maintenance practices is one of the reasons we avoided disease / mould during the spring.
Over the past 12 months we have changed the sand with which we top dress, enabling the team to increase the volume of top dressing without impacting your enjoyment. We have also added the summer maintenance period which will help us continually strive to firm up the greens and create the best surfaces possible for you to enjoy.
We are fully aware of many golfer’s desire for fast greens, and we will continue to do all we can to achieve that wherever possible.
Data based decisions
We do not publish the speed of the greens as we feel this information is generally irrelevant for golfers, after all we don’t have any flat putts at The Scandinavian and no two putts will ever be the same.
We do however measure almost everything else. Measurements are taken using our own soil testing equipment such as a GPS Pogo to measure PH, Soil temperature, moisture level and root depth and Clegg hammer to measure firmness. Annually we also send some soil samples to European Turfgrass Laboratories to measure some of the aspects more difficult to measure. All the data we collect, as well as the information from the laboratories helps us make the correct decisions for the long-term health of the greens.
You are welcome to ask for more information
We are extremely proud that in eleven years, our skilled team have consistently produced greens that roll true and remain healthy across an increasing long season with growing numbers of rounds and we hope that you will continue to enjoy the greens even during the periods when we are protecting them, and they may not be as quick as some of us would like.
We hope that this piece has answered many of your questions and given you a thorough understanding of what we do and why we do it.
If you still have unanswered questions or would like even more detail, we would be delighted to discuss further during the greenkeepers course walk, the upcoming AGM on 3 October or alternatively privately over a coffee in the clubhouse.
The Greenkeeping Team