Aeration and Top Dressing of Greens at Princes Risborough Golf Club – 04.03.17

We understand that it is incredibly frustrating to turn up to the golf course, only to discover, in layman's terms, that the green is full of little holes or covered in sand. So we thought that you were owed some simple answers. This post will quickly explain why we aerate and top dress the greens with sand, what different solutions we use and whether you get 'relief' or not if your putt is disrupted.

When you consider that golf greens are generally only about 1% of the total area of the golf course, yet 50% of the game is played on them - we understand their importance to you and the intention of this post is to explain that unless we maintain the greens properly, we will eventually kill them. In short, we apologise for the short term disruption, but it is necessary if you want to maximise your enjoyment of the game across the whole season.

Our main greens enjoy a healthy combination of what are known as soil solids (minerals and organic material) and soil pores (space for water and air). This combination provides a healthy rootzone and ultimately healthy grass.

This successful combination is disrupted over time by one of two challenges; one is through an unhealthy imbalance of solids and the other through a reduction in soil pores through compaction.
If not managed appropriately, these can adversely affect the performance of the green in many ways, such as ball bounce, ball roll, reduced ball speed and in the long term, damage the soil structure, which may lead to expensive reconstruction costs and avoidable player down time.

Let's take compaction first.

Why do we aerate the greens?

Essentially high volumes of people treading on the greens will reduce the soil pores and eventually damage the health of the grass. We are blessed with a course with natural chalk and shale drainage. Whilst compaction problems occur on all courses, those with heavier soil bases such as clay tend to suffer much worse. So we are luckier than most, but our greens do still require relief from compaction.

Maintaining the correct balance of the soil solids is critical for sustaining healthy plant growth. The spaces between the particles of solid material however are just as important. It is in these pore spaces which create the environment for the plant to obtain the necessary water, air and nutrients it requires to drink, breathe and grow.

And what about healthy soil?

Why do we top dress the greens?

In short, our agronomists point to the 15 year study by Nebraska University and have made clear to us that getting sand into the root zone is critical to dilute the amount of organic matter that accumulates in the soil. Organic matter comes from dead roots and shoots, and is increased by the amount of fertilizer and water used. A green that has excess organic matter is soft and spongy, doesn't drain well, shows visible foot prints from golfer foot traffic, and is not a good putting surface.

How do we aerate?

The main aim of aeration is to penetrate the soil profile to create new pore space and we use two primary methods.

Hollow Coring

we have just hollow cored the new Short Game Academy Course greens. We did this because we wanted to both aerate the soil and change the soil composition to create an accelerated growth environment for new seeds. For the main greens we have invested in new grooming equipment to manage our thatch depth and the agronomist currently advises that we do not need to hollow core as a thatch removal mechanism.

Solid Tining

The problem with hollow coring is that it is very disruptive to play. Solid tining heals much faster. It works by using varying depths and diameters of tines to puncture holes in the root zone. During the spring we are using quick healing pencil tines to open up the pores and encourage health. Later in the season, depending on soil health, we will consider using deeper tines with a shatter action - but for now we are in good shape.

NB This year we will also be testing Aero Quick, a brilliant combination of 'slitting' and 'solid tining' which penetrates 6 inches through the thatch with minimum disruption to play - watch this space!!

When do we aerate?

Aeration should be carried out on a regular basis, when weather and soil conditions allow. It ties in with our other seasonal renovation programmes, such as dethatching (or grooming) and topdressing which we complete in the spring and autumn.

Summary of key benefits of Aeration?

* Improves soil surface drainage (water infiltration)
* Helps to increase soil temperatures
* Increases soil pore space - allows gaseous exchanges in the soil (oxygen in, carbon dioxide out) that improves root growth and development
* Aids integration of topdressings into the soil profile
* Aids the breakdown of thatch/organic matter
* Promotes better surface levels that will increase ball roll /speed
* Aids surface firmness/dryness, thereby increasing ball bounce and surface grip

We strongly believe that these benefits are worthy of a short spell of disruption and hope that this note helps to relieve some of the frustration you may feel when your game is impacted by this essential maintenance work.

What About Those Aeration Holes - Do You Get Relief?

Those aeration holes may be around for a couple weeks. If your golf ball comes to rest on an aeration hole, what's the ruling? Can I get relief? The answer is NO. Aeration holes do not qualify as an abnormal ground condition, because the governing bodies specifically say they do not qualify as "ground under repair".

Hope this is helpful

Head Greenkeeper

New Short Game Academy Course: Developing the Greens – Feb 26th 2017

As many of you will know, we have been investing a considerable amount of resource over the autumn and winter months in developing the new Short Game Academy Course.

In addition to employing three greenkeepers rather than two, we now have the ability to cut both sets of greens simultaneously.  Our new cutting cassettes are ready and waiting for action!

We have also been investing in a green development programme which has involved a number of important steps:

Levelling the greens

Carefully removing the lumps and bumps which would create problems for golfers and the mowers. This is an ongoing and time consuming process

Removing weeds

Following the use of a variety of weed killers; last week we applied T2 Green Pro. This is a premium selective herbicide for the control of a wide range of weeds, including difficult perennial weeds.

Accelerating Grass Growth

Last week we applied pigment to the greens to improve the health and accelerate growth of the natural grasses present.

As winter turns to spring (give or take the odd Storm Doris) we move to the next critical phase:

Soil Aeration

This week we will be hollow coring the academy greens to create the ideal basis for turf health and ultimately a high quality playing surface. We are effectively reconstructing the soil composition and enabling a high quality rooting system for the new grass. As we are blessed with a high quality chalk and shale natural drainage system, this new rooting system will have every advantage.

Soil Reconstruction - Top Dressing and Seeding

Having removed the 'plugs' or 'cores' from the greens we will top dress with a high quality 70/30 mix of sand/soil. The newly created root zone will be fertilised and seeded to ensure that we achieve a rapid transition during the early spring growing season. We will continue to top dress on an increasingly light basis throughout the first season - between 4 and 6 times. The soil recomposition will be fairly rapid and with little existing thatch or compaction, healthy grass growth has every chance of success.

We will keep you posted...

Head Greenkeeper

Princes Risborough Golf Club Greens: More positive news… 26th Feb 2017

This is another significant investment year for the club and our "Spring into Action" campaign for the greens is in full swing.

As readers will know, PRGC's spring investment programme this year included the successful usage of a unique new pigment technology - a first for Princes Risborough Golf Club.  This has increased the metabolism and health of the grass and warmed up the soil to encourage healthy growth. We have received some extremely positive comments from visiting golfers and members alike - thank you for taking the trouble to tell us.

We also recently fed the greens with a 'spring starter' fertiliser and moss prevention agent - some of you may recall the temporary blackness on some of the greens as this treatment successfully kicked into action.

We are now moving into an intense period of activity to get our greens into peak spring condition.

You may have noticed Simon spraying the greens last week - we have achieved two important treatments:

Improving green health with Interface Stressgard™ Formulation Technology

The 1st UK turf fungicide formulated using Stressgard Formulation Technology! It offers a new standard in grass protection.  It provides superior disease control (specifically Fusarium) and manages disease stress. This leads to improved playability and visibly healthier turf. This amazing product remains on the leaf surface acting as a shield against infection. It also  creates a weather resistant reservoir on the leaf surface that enables continual penetration, leading to greater protection and longevity. How clever is that!

Controlling Meadow Grass with Velocity Herbicide

We are embarking on a programme to gradually reduce Poa Annua (annual meadow grass) and to eliminate the potential for broadleaf weeds to grab hold. NB Poa is the dominant grass within 70% of golf greens in the UK. You will remember that we recently invested in 3 new grooming cartridges - these have been  nicknamed by the trade as "poa busters". Velocity Herbicide is the perfect partner in this quest to deliver the healthiest and most playable greens. Velocity can gradually eliminate both Poa annua and Poa trivialis enabling a better balance of Poa and bentgrass. The most important word in this programme is 'gradual'. We will be cutting in the spring and summer to between 3mm and 4mm in height. Bent grasses need a lot of support to thrive at these heights whereas Poa has adapted to it. It's all about the balance and we will be working with our agronomist to achieve the right green speeds and consistency as the season unfolds. Following our successful trial of pigmentation during spring. We will be further trialling pigmentation to establish whether we can better support our bent grass during the low cutting season. We will keep you posted.

Look out for further notes on aeration... this is a wonderful stage in our season and we are in good shape for a cracking season.



Head Greenkeeper

Coming to a driving cage near you…

We are delighted to confirm that the new netting is now on its way and our driving cage renovation will soon be completed!! The greenkeeping team have used the cold weather to their advantage in sanding down and protecting the cage with rust resistant paint. So please watch this space - the netting is on its way and very soon the cage will be driving like new 🙂

Lady Captain – February Update

Ladies February Golf Update

It's hard to believe that we have put January behind us already but here we are in the first week of February. Our playing schedule in January was disrupted by frozen greens and even when we weren't on temporaries it was seldom truly enjoyable to be out on the course.  Hopefully now it won't be too long before the weather improves as the days lengthen. 

During January we welcomed a new lady member to our fold and many of you will have met Anna Antonie already.  Anna is playing her three cards to achieve her handicap and is keen to be taking part in our competitions as soon as possible.  If you see Anna please do take a few minutes to introduce yourself - I'm sure we can all remember how daunting it is when you are trying to put names to faces.    

Our programme for February has been adjusted so please do take a moment to check your diaries against the following and read through to the end of this message for more information.  


All Mondays in February
Ladies Roll Up
Depending on weather conditions the Monday roll-up will continue throughout the month.  In principle players will go out in arrival order, playing 9, 14 or 18 holes as mutually agreed.  It can be disappointing if you happen to be the one who turns up when there's no one else around, so it's worth remembering that most ladies choose to go out about 09.00 during the winter months, a little earlier in spring/summer.  And if the weather does turn against us some ladies still pop into the club mid-late morning for a coffee (or hot chocolate!) and a chat. 

Wednesday 8 February
Ladies Informal Morning  (note this is a change from our original schedule)
The informal game this day will be an  Irons Only  competition.  Tee times from 08.45 onwards with ladies going out in arrival order in threes where possible.  This is a good opportunity to practise with your irons so get to the back of that garage and find the 5 or 6 iron that isn't usually in your golf bag and you'll be sailing down the fairway.  
A gentle reminder for our informal mornings - please hand your card into the clubhouse with your playing fee  as soon as you clear the 18th green .  This helps our organiser, Foxy, to tally up the results and will hopefully mean that we can most often announce winners before the early birds head off.

Wednesday 15 February
Ladies Informal Morning
The format for the game this day will be announced on 8 February.  
Saturday 18 February 
Alternative day for the February Stableford  (note this is a change from our original schedule)
If you're planning to play on this day please remember that it's off the yellows and that you will need to book a tee time at Reception.
Wednesday 22 February  
February Stableford   (note this is a change from our original schedule)
The sign-up sheet has been posted on the noticeboard in the Locker Room so don't forget to sign up soon.
Saturday 18 March
Distinguishables v Incorruptibles.  This is a match between a 'captains' team and a 'management' team.  If you have a current handicap and you'd like to take part watch out for posters and sign-up sheets over the next couple of weeks.  This is a shot-gun start and there's no need to have a partner - we will be sorting out playing order etc.  
It looks as if all the first round Winter Pairs matches will have been completed by 5 February - well done ladies.  There are now seven weeks before the semi finals must be played but please don't leave it until the middle of March to find a date and if possible please avoid playing these matches on a Wednesday.  
With the approach of Spring it's a great time to think about brushing up your game.  Our pro, Bruce Loome, will be running group coaching sessions in the sequence of putting/chipping/pitching/driving and this is an excellent way to eliminate those bad habits that have crept in over the winter months.  Bruce has put up lists in the Ladies Locker Room - do consider joining the group, or if you'd prefer to have individual lessons then I know that Bruce would be delighted to hear from you.  
This is the time of year when the Handicap Committee meets.  Some of you will have heard from Jill about changes - both up and down.  This is a reminder that those of us with existing handicaps must submit three cards each year if we wish to retain a competitive handicap meaning that we can take part in any competition.  There is no rush as our year runs until December but I have been asked by Jill to say that it is advisable to avoid N/R (nil return) cards, particularly if you are in a position where you hope the Handicap Committee will review your handicap.  Reviews can only be based on the evidence of submitted cards.  
Some of you were at the Club a couple of Wednesdays ago when the new website was launched. I hope that you'll like the fresh style that has been adopted and find it a really useful resource.  To be sure that you get to the new  website use this address:

The up to date members calendar can be found here

Finally, you will already have received an up-dated telephone list from Beryl - please make sure your records are up-to-date.  
That's all of the news for now ladies.  I hope that I've covered everything, but please don't hesitate to get back to me if you've got any questions (or ideas!).
See you all at the Club very soon
Best regard

New Lunch Time Menu – Going Down a Storm

Further to our recent post on Upping Our Game - Nick and Michelle have been enjoying considerable success with their new lunch time menu trial.

Freshly prepared... Toasties, Sandwiches and Jacket potatoes with mouth-wateringly tasty fillings - available 7 days a week.

The Chilli Con Carne Jacket Potato has been particularly popular with the ladies...

"I had some great feedback today from ladies about the food yesterday.  The jacket potatoes with chilli con carne went down a storm and their availability at short notice was much appreciated" ... Sue D'Arcy

Great work Nick and Michelle!!

Further Enhancing the Greens this Winter

Further Enhancing the Greens this Winter

Per previous posts we are working with our Agronomist to maximise the health and playability of our greens during the colder, low light winter months.

Over the next two weeks we will be applying a revolutionary pigment technology which increases soil and surface temperatures and creates a more desirable microclimate for growth. In short it increases the grass plants photosynthesis rate and its metabolism in periods of slow growth.
This is used on the top courses in the USA and we are trying it here!

Key Benefits...
* Increases turf quality and playability during periods of slow growth
* Increases turf colour in the colder, low light winter period
* Looks and works in tune with nature

I will keep you posted

Head Greenkeeper

Lake balls on the 3rd are part of the lake bed – remove the balls … destroy the lake

Please note that having thinned the level of lake weed on the 3rd and filled it with fresh water – low and behold we have exposed a treasure trove of golf balls.

Please note that these balls belong to the lake – they are now part of the blue clay structure that holds the water. If you remove them you will damage the integrity of the lake bed and will reduce the effectiveness of the clay bed to retain the water.

We invested heavily in blue clay rather than a lake liner because it is more natural. Because it is more natural we ask that you respect it’s frailties and resist the temptation to gather a few free golf balls at the cost of the lake bed.

Thank you
Head Greenkeeper

Feeding the greens… preventing disease and moss

We are currently feeding the greens with a 'spring starter' fertiliser. It comes in a fine granular form which dissolves relatively quickly and so should not interrupt your putting but if you see some granules - you'll now know what they are!

The fertiliser we are applying delivers multiple benefits...

* It contains potassium and iron to improve disease resistance and minimise the incidence of moss
* It is premium 'fine granular' to ensure even coverage and response (it also means minimum to zero disruption to play)

This is one of a sequence of procedures that our agronomist is prescribing as part of our drive for outstanding greens this season.

We will keep you posted on all the green enhancement activities taking place over the coming weeks - particularly where they may impact on your putting in any way.

Head Greenkeeper