left Michael Gilligan: Course Manager at Vicars Club Golf Course
right Paul Moreton: BSH Amenity Sales Technical Representative (Midlands and North West)
An ongoing programme of overseeding with AberRoyal Browntop Bent has proven the key to revitalising the greens at Vicars Cross Golf Club near Chester. Originally constructed on heavy blue Cheshire clay, a renovation scheme on the parkland course has seen all of the greens gradually rebuilt to USGA standards with 70 per cent sand.
However, as course manager Michael Gilligan explains, getting the turf up to scratch has been another matter. “When the greens were rebuilt, the original turf was simply replaced.. I explained to the committee that we would need to overseed the greens to introduce bents, but there is a perception that this is a one-off task. It was important to make it clear that overseeding would be an ongoing process, part of our routine maintenance regime.”
He began overseeding in the autumn, but in discussion with Steve Oultram from Wilmslow Golf Club, decided to extend the operation to the spring as well.
“Steve said that I should take every opportunity to increase the percentage of bent in the greens, so I use all suitable windows for overseeding. In spring it can be more tricky to get the right temperatures for germination, but if you can get the seed in it will come through when it is ready, which can take two or three weeks or even longer if it is cold.”
In order to ensure the best possible germination Michael uses a Huxley scarifier to prepare the greens for seeding in the autumn, top dressing before overseeding and then applying a further top dressing. “Because bents are so fine, I like to fill the grooves made by the scarifier to stop the seed going too deep,” he explains. Spring treatment is equally specific, with seed applied after a pass with the sorrel roller and before top dressing.
Michael chose AberRoyal Browntop Bent after reading favourable reviews in the groundcare press, but says that the variety’s characteristics appealed to him anyway: “I liked the idea of a British-bred grass for British greens, and while I also looked at Velvets, I felt that AberRoyal would be more suitable for our conditions. Its ability to outcompete Poa and resistance to disease were also very attractive.”
He comments that the overseeding is already proving its worth, producing greens that retain their quality and perform well all year round. Another benefit is that Michael has been able to reduce the amount of water and fertiliser used on the greens.
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