Aeration and infiltration

Tomorrow, Monday the 22nd of June will be our summer aeration window on the putting greens at Phoenix golf club. We have done no major aeration since our hollow core just before lock-down and its well over due. We had certain restrictions placed on us from the R&A and England golf, some of which I didn't agree with but nether the less best not to upset anyone, especially as I'm avid twitter poster, too many eyes watching 👀. 
Since reopening of the golf course the traffic has been immense, lots of play from members, visitors and squeezing extra large field competitions in has its detrimental effect on the compaction of the greens and ultimately infiltration of water. (below is the results of the last test, you can spot our suspect greens!!).
Infiltration is measured in mm/hour and is the rate at which soil can allow water to move into and through the soil profile, this allows the soil to store the water for plants and soil biology but also release excess water. Sandy soils i…

Poa flower in putting surfaces

Here at Phoenix we have been managing Poa annua on our golf greens ever since they changed to being a high percentage of Poa probably 50 or 60 years ago. The old management techniques have certainly given us some problems underneath in our soils and consequently on top on our surfaces. High kg of Nitrogen per annum, too much water, height of cut too low and lots of disturbance to keep on top of organic matter has started the circle of decline and has given Poa annua the advantage it seeks over other more preferred perennial species like Bents.

There are several sub species of Poa annua, old established push-up greens like here at Phoenix are 95% Poa, but I would have a guess that 90% of that is Poa annua var reptans which is the preferred species. This so called annual actually grows as an annual, a biennial and a short lived perennial. The pure annual species is more prone to death from disease and drought so is definitely not what we want in the green.

All grasses flower and set see…

Just when the weather improves!

It’s been a while since my last post with the dreadful weather since the 3rd week in September, enough said about that the better. A couple of topics to cover briefly on this blog post with topics covering the improving weather and the course conditions, greens maintenance and of course the topic on everyone’s mind, the dreaded Covid19.

Firstly after the poor autumn and winter, a dry forecast is what we wanted and looks like that’s what we are getting. Spring is in the air and the course should dry steadily as a consequence. Instead of counting mm of rainfall I can look at my other graph regarding Evapotranspiration (ETs). ETs is the sum of evaporation and plant transpiration from the Earth's land to the atmosphere. Through winter low numbers mean little chance to dry especially you have no drainage and water falling from the heavens. This last week and the coming week have seen these numbers climb due to lengthening days and this strange orange thing appearing in the sky!.
All th…

Temporary greens (why?)

Firstly I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas and I wish everyone of you reading a happy prosperous new year. Let’s hope 2020 is a drier year and certainly in the next few months.

This brings me on to my blog nicely. Phoenix golf club is trying to offer no temporary greens for frost situations. Although damage does occur from playing in some types of frost and thaw situations, I’ve never seen this damage become irreversible and by spring when the main root development occurs we usually have decent recovery. This theory hasn’t been tested for a few years now at Phoenix and if the results go as I’m predicting, then this will continue on into winter 2020.

Why the temporaries then? I hear you ask.
Well firstly the only greens being put on temporary greens (and I’m careful not to call them winter greens) are the 7th, 10th and 17th. This is due to a phenomenon called hypoxia. All living things that need Oxygen can suffer hypoxia. In humans a treatment of an oxygen mask and iron inputs are…

What a year...what an autumn

Unfortunately for the out of golf season and our winter sports at Phoenix, this autumn has been as wet as I’ve known it since 2001 and in fact the yearly rainfall data for 2019 looks like a record breaker (see graphs below). We’ve had 399mm since September and 959.9mm all year, well away from 2018s 615.8mm all year. Last Wednesday into Thursday we recorded 105mm in one hit flooding the golf course, the whole complex and most of Rotherham/Sheffield for that matter. Ok Im hitting you with bad news and one I know you don’t want to hear, but this may strike you has hard to believe but I don’t want to hear it either. In my first year leading this team and wanting to take this complex and golf course to the next level, this has certainly been a set back. We had plans for the winter which are now looking very unlikely to happen unless a miracle happens.

The long term forecast for the uk is for a hard winter and a beast from the east, again!!. If this happens it may be a good thing as long a…

Greens drainage

You may notice over the next week or so a few drainage channels on a few greens. This is vital work that will ensure the survival of the turf with all the wet weather we have been having.
Early summer was wet with August our best month and a total contrast to the dry 2018 we had, the middle of September onwards has been a constant barrage of Atlantic low pressure systems dumping way too much rain and well above average (see graph). We actually over took our yearly total average in the second week of October and we haven’t hit winter yet, great!.
All this rain means one thing for turf, lack of oxygen. Most people think that turf grows in soil, and while that’s correct in one way it’s actually wrong. The soil is literally an anchor for roots and supply’s vital nutrients, but the roots of the grass plant actually grows in the gaps in the soil and there for grows in an oxygen rich environment. When we have excessive rain this forces the oxygen out of the soil, the roots begin to retreat t…


Drainage is categorised in to two main groups, primary drainage and secondary drainage. Primary drainage is the mains and lateral pipe work set deep within the soil profile and is designed to pull or carry larger quantities of water from within the soil profile or carry the water to an outlet like a pond or dyke and in drainage terms your dykes are primary drainage. Secondary drainage is any act upon the surface through soil profile linking up to your primary drainage. This can be anything from your vertidrain to sand slitting or gravel banding and is usually accompanied by an inert material like sand or gravel to help infiltration of water through the soil profile.

On Monday the 26th and Tuesday the 27th of August thanks to Ben our business manager for the investment and agreeing funds and Danny Boardman for agreeing the short term disruption for long term gain, we are performing secondary drainage on four of our worst performing greens, in the form of sand drainage channels. The san…