Every year, ‘Augusta Syndrome’ can cause greenkeepers grief as the new golf season tees off.
Those pristine greens and fairways that millions marvel at during the Masters tournament can trigger despondency in even the most upbeat greenkeeper. Not at Harpenden Common Golf Club, however, where on the eve of the first of the Majors, the turfcare team is gazing over lush greens to rival those of Augusta National itself.
“We are enjoying our fastest-ever start-up to the season in our history,” states Course Manager Steve Brocklehurst. “The recovery we are experiencing is fantastic. Our greens look magnificent and members are amazed by the quality so early on in the year. In terms of colour, grass growth and coverage, the greens are in their finest condition in my 45 years at the club.”
The transformation follows the club’s switch to a soil biology management approach introduced by treatment specialists Soil Biology Ltd.
“We’ve applied products unique in the sector to reduce and control rootzone pH,” explains Soil Biology lead scientist Hillery Murphy. “This allows the grass plant to take up vital nutrients such as calcium, manganese, silicon and magnesium more readily, even in cold conditions. It is these nutrients that support the biological process.”
Head Greenkeeper Sean Brocklehurst adds: “The course looking this good this early gives us a head start in retaining members and attracting new ones. Subscriptions fall due around this time of the year and if golfers can see a level of visual definition between greens and approaches they would only expect to see at the end of April or early May, they may well want to join up now. Also, we can start management practices earlier in the year as the sward is already strong enough to take our triple mowers and we can begin Verticutting sooner.”
Hillery Murphy continues: “The pH in the rootzone on many courses is simply not low enough to promote thatch degradation and soil biology. Our Springload rootzone and Flex foliar treatments with added biostimulants reduce the pH of the spray water and that of the rootzone to trigger the early start-up.”