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Dear Guest,


Agronomy Report - July 2022

As my time as Course Superintendent has just surpassed the four-month mark, I would like to outline my observations of the current agronomic and maintenance structures of the golf course and define my team's future goal's and procedures to improve on an already very well-maintained golf course.

Ben Simons - Course Superintendent




Advancement of Root Depth and Root Health

Why?  The current root depth on some of our playing surfaces has fairly short root systems, resulting in shorter-term nutrient and water retention.  This is most evident on our fairway and tee surfaces.  Our goal is to create greater root depth and health as this will result in a long term higher quality playing surface.  We need to encourage a deeper root system in all playing areas of the course to create a more sustainable and consistent playing surface.

What It Means For Maintenance?  As the rooting systems are very shallow, water and nutrient fail to store for long durations of time, which means more water and fertilizer need (at a cost) to be applied to keep the grass alive and in a suitable state.  This also has an impact when wanting to present a "hard and fast" and more sustainable golf course.

How To Improve This?  More aeration is required such as vertidraining.  This will create channels at greater depths and allow roots to easily establish and develop into a deeper area.  This will be of no additional budget cost and can be achieved easily, however, this task is time-consuming.  (We have started this in some areas).  A small amount of surface disruption will occur, however, this process is essential for long-term surface quality.

The application of wetting agents and root stimulants to these areas will not only encourage root development but help with moisture and nutrient retention.  We have started applying this to greens and tees.  This comes at a cost, however not outside the restrictions of the current budget.




Inconsistency Of Different Grass Types On Putting Green Surfaces

Why?  A result of having a mixed sward green surface i.e. bentgrass and poa annua.  This results in different leaf sizes, growth rates, grain direction, colour, and many other different attributes alongside different cultivators and characteristics of the same grass type i.e. bent grass.  This in turn creates inconsistencies when it comes to ball roll and green speeds.  e.g. putts into the grain are slower due to putting into a longer more laid over leaf.

What It Means For Maintenance.  Our battle is always to try and produce greens that are most importantly, consistent.  We currently brush the greens surface 1-2 times a week when possible to stand the leaf up straighter and therefore get a more effective and cleaner cut on areas with amounts of grain.  We however can only brush greens every 2-3 weeks as sand from top dressing is still present after a sanding application.  This has become much improved with the new sand we are currently using to top-dress.  This procedure does help reduce the grain and improve consistency to a point.

How To Improve This?  Hopefully with finer sand and higher growth rates through our warmer months, we can brush greens and reduce leaf size and grain in part.  I also believe the purchase of verticutting blade attachments for our greens mowers will be greatly beneficial to improving the consistency of our greens.  These blades cut vertically and help to thin the grass leaf as well and remove small amounts or organic matter and help to reduce grain dramatically.  This task would be carried out monthly with little disturbance to greens quality or play.

Below is an example of different grass species and different leaf size - 12th green.

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Tree And Tree Root Management

Why?  Trees and shrubs around the course have matured over years and I feel are having a negative impact on turf quality and adding little purpose or visual pleasure to the golf course.  Trees and shrubs that grow at ground level are impacting the pace of play and are a great space for vermin and pests (which we are working to eradicate), to live and nest.  Tree roots are reducing the effectiveness of our watering plan, naturally sucking moisture from golf course playing surfaces resulting in poor turf quality.  In an ideal world, we would identify 'spare' land throughout the property and plant more native trees going forward in replacement of the trees we remove.

What It Means For Maintenance. Currently, we struggle through our warmer months with any areas where trees and tree root systems are near.  The roots suck most of the moisture from our playing surfaces and we are constantly trying to apply and retain water to these areas with the use of sprinklers and hand-watering.  If not managed properly, we do lose grass cover in these areas.

How To Improve This?  The maintenance team can undertake most of the tree work safely.  We will prioritise trees and shrubs and work through the course from high priority to low.  We have started to clear low limbs on the right-hand side of 7, and the left-hand side of 5.

The trenching and cutting of tree roots alongside fairways will need to be completed.  We can achieve this with machinery we already have, however, a small trench will be visible in these areas for a small amount of time.  This will be essential for much-improved turf quality.

Some areas are highlighted below.



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Shrubs growing at ground level will be removed. Not only slowing down play but a great habitat for vermin and pests to live. (LHS 12 green)

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Poor grass cover and turf quality due to tree roots. These areas will be trenched and under surface roots pruned which will hopefully improve moisture retention and turf quality. (RHS 2)

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Trees very close to fairways to be discussed for removal. These currently dictate our mowing lines and impact water retention and grass health in these areas. Also, future fairway mow line changes may occur when new irrigation system is installed. (LHS 2)

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Low limbs will be removed to ensure no golf swing is impeded and will improve pace of play (photo R.H.S 7)





Health & Safety Tree Management 

As part of the club's health & safety processes, periodic tree assessments are done to ensure there is no risk to members and visitors.

This assessment is undertaken by Darryl Judd from Urban Scape, a member and corporate sponsor who completes the work when height work is required as our team are not equipped for this.

As part of the recent assessment some work has been identified and will commence this week and be completed mid-next week.

Whilst an act of nature is still possible it is important that we maintain any trees that have been damaged from wind or storms and remove any debris and loose limbs.

All work areas with be cordened off to allow for the maintenance to be done. 

Hastings Golf Club
(06) 879 7206
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