In my last report I mentioned that we are to have the Sports Turf Research Institute on site to evaluate our course and especially start the ball rolling (pun intended) in gathering performance analysis data.
The main areas are
• Organic and nutrient testing ( laboratory)
• Trueness
• Speed (taking slopes and weather into context)
• Compaction testing
• Moisture levels (note it was dinging down on the day ;) )

Let me explain the trueness meter as that was pretty cool to be fair!!
The trueness meter
Ball roll characteristics of putting surfaces are critical. The roll of a ball should be smooth and true and not negatively influenced by the immediate turf surface. The objective is to reward the skill of the golfer who can read the topography of the green and accurately putt the ball. It is highly undesirable for the golf ball to deviate from its line of roll. As a result, non-topographic features such as pitch marks, earthworm casts, disease scars or even textural differences in the grass species growing on golf green can influence ball roll.

The STRI Trueness Meter™

There are devices that allow us to roll golf balls on the turf surface and measure the distance rolled to provide an indication of frictional properties. What has been missing has been a way to easily and accurately measure the amount of deviation a golf ball experiences as it rolls across a surface. The greater the degree of deviation, the greater the probability that the ball will be deflected off its intended line and miss the hole. To be able to objectively measure how smooth and true ball roll is on is any given putting surface, means that targeted maintenance advice can be given to improve this important aspect of surface performance.
The Clegg Hammer
The Tester consists of a compaction hammer operating within a vertical guide tube. When the hammer is released from a fixed height it falls through the tube and strikes the surface under test, decelerating at a rate determined by the stiffness of the material within the region of impact. A precision accelerometer mounted on the hammer feeds its output to a hand held digital readout unit which registers the hammer deceleration. For sports surfaces the readings are displayed in Gravities whilst for road applications the displayed readings are Impact Values (IV). The IV indicates soil strength and shows good correlation with Californian Bearing Ratio (CBR) test results.

The rest of the devices are very self-explanatory and a report will be generated soon that will allow us to have a direction, set targets and maybe think about progressing the course as a whole?!

We have completed the On Course work in conjunction with Scottish Golf, the R&A and the Golf Environmental Organisation and like the STRI reports we now have a starting point and up to date record keeping in regards to Environmental work. We have since asked to become Certified, here is the current list of certified courses that reach and maintain expected standards.
• St Andrews
• Auchterarder
• Fife Golf Trust
• Royal Aberdeen
• Castle Stuart
• Dundonald
• Gleneagles
• Blairgowrie
• Carnoustie
• Gullane
• Troon
• Kingsbarns
• North Berwick
• Royal Dornoch
• Montrose
• Machrihanish Dunes
• The Royal Burgess
• Trump Turnberry
• HCEG Muirfield
• Renaissance Club

20 clubs from over 550!! In which we are hoping to join, it isn’t a necessity but a standard and a case of being proper custodians of our courses to ensure they are run sustainably. We will be examined so fingers crossed we pass the test.

Weather has been absolutely garbage, no other word for it and we’ve struggled to keep play open and we have a water percolation problem from the top 25mm. I was going to wait until the STRI report but maybe we need to act faster, we have started to scarify the top surfaces of some of the problem greens which will help but we simply cannot do more than pick or chose selected greens for work. We simply haven’t the man power or the time so we adapt. It’s not a complaint it’s just feedback and observations but our fixture list has to be set in a way to help us out at this busy time, whether its essential aeration work or just “normal” work we have to have time to do this. I feel we must set aside time to have maintenance practices on the greens during the growing season so recovery is very short, leave it to winter when recovery is poor then we are chasing our tails for early season surfaces. Just a heads up really but we had one day every week at MH and on that day there was no golf allowed on the course before 9.45 allowing us needed time without disruptions, now again that’s no possible here because we haven’t the staff to push that as I allocated 10 on these specific days but it’s meant to plant a seed that we need to change our thinking in this regard.

I suppose it’s the classic statement of “how good do we want to be?” We have come on leaps and bounds but now do we just flat line and go along being steady or do we push and push but this means more strategy regarding comps etc.

Richard Mullen
Course Manager

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