Anyone who has played Moyola Park Golf Club in recent years will have noticed that the course condition is improving year on year. Moyola Park Golf Club is no longer a course that is constantly closed following heavy rain but a course that is open when neighbouring golf courses are not. The shift in weather patterns has meant that soft, wet playing surfaces and standing water have become common features at many golf courses and this in turn has led to more frequent course closures.
The Moyola Park Golf Club Committee recognised a few years ago that we must continue to invest, to ensure we remain open and that the course is enjoyable to play. Indeed this upgrade work that we have carried out within the last few years has seen Moyola Park GC, for the first time in our history, move into the Golf Digest Ireland Top 100 ranking 2014 at number 95. We are confident that that with future work we can make this golf course an even better place to play.
At the heart of our course development plans is good effective drainage. The basic theory which has been used on the course recently to good effect consists of primary drainage being installed longside the wettest fairways and greens; secondary drainage then runs in a perpendicular direction to the main drainage. To date we have installed over 5km of primary and secondary pipe using these methods and 2014 will see the completion of this main drainage work. The next stage in the process is to carry out extensive gravel and sand banding of the course to feed surface water into these secondary then primary drains, which will be done in-house using greens staff and volunteers and specialist machinery. We also brought in a specialist contractor to sand band greens and will continue with this work as the need arises; all this work extends the playing season and helps create optimum playing conditions.
In addition to these main drainage works greens staff and volunteers have carried out many smaller items of work such as: localised drainage solutions, extending/tidying up pathways, installing new marker plates, planting new hedges and trees, new slipway at the bridge and extending the practice areas.
Looking to the future, another five year draft course improvement plan, starting in 2015, has been drawn up and approved. The first few years of this plan includes for the completion of the drainage work with extensive sand/gravel banding planned (42km approximately); this will dramatically improve the fairways and lead to less course closures. The plan also includes improvements to the both the garden and larger practice area, the creation of a a new chipping area, improved pathways, improved greens drainage on the wettest holes, improvements to tee boxes and improved signage throughout the course.
Following on from this essential development and drainage work, Moyola Park Golf Club recently carried out their annual top dressing of greens and fertilising of the course during March and April 2014. Soil testing on the fairways revealed that the PH levels of the soil had fallen well below recommended values and has now become too acidic. We therefore have embarked on a plan to address this issue.
"Lime" is used in turfgrass management to raise the PH of soil. Lime is mined from the earth as limestone which is primarily composed of calcium carbonate. It is chemically altered and the
product we use is calcium hydroxide. Due to the type of soil we have and the amount of rainfall each year the soil gets acidic over time. 7.0 is neutral on the PH scale, and ideal soil PH for
growing turf in our area is between 6.0 and 7.0. The soil tests we undertook allowed us to base our fertiliser program on the test results. Some nutrients including phosphorus, potassium, calcium,
and magnesium get partially tied up and are not as readily available to plants at lower PH levels. A good indication of acidic soil is the
growth of moss which can be seen in some fairways. We plan to spread lime on fairways during late April /early May 2014 and monitor the PH levels of the soil in the coming months. We may have to re-apply this in the coming years to bring this PH back up to the levels required for healthy and thick grass on our fairways. We intend to use the granular version of the lime as shown on the attached photograph
Replace the divot, or add sand/seed mix?
During spring and autumn when turf growth is best, it will take at least 7 to 10 days for the seed to germinate using a sand/seed mix. Add another two weeks for the grass to fill in the divot area, and you're looking at three to four weeks at least to recover. If you replace the divot, it will look good right away and will be back to normal in a week. There are times when an iron shot off the fairway will break into many small pieces, and replacement won't work. Those are the times to use the sand/seed mix. So it is best to:
REPLACE YOUR DIVOTS! Thanks for your help.