Staff Training – BIGGA CPD Member Approved Certificate

On 06/07/2021 Course Manager Richard Johnstone was awarded with a BIGGA CPD Approved member Certificate in recognition of his continued education and training in 2021.

The BIGGA CPD Scheme is made up of members who are looking to improve their professional knowledge and competence within the industry while developing skills and personal qualities necessary for the execution of technical duties throughout their working life.

“No professional should stand still – we’re all learning, all the time.

Tournament Support – The 126th Amateur Championship

Course Manager Richard Johnstone, Deputy Course Manager Craig Mackay and Apprentice Greenkeepers Ryan Knox & Nathan Grant recently volunteered as part of the Tournament support for The 126th Amateur Championship held at Nairn Golf Club from 14th – 19th June 2021.  It allowed our staff the opportunity to strengthen relationships by networking with local greenkeepers and gain some great tournament setup experience at the prestigious R&A event. 

Richard, Craig, Ryan and Nathan joined other local greenkeepers to provide support to Courses Manager Richie Ewan and his team who had the 6829 yard championship course in truly fantastic condition all week.

Volunteering during tournaments as part of the tournament support team weather a local, national or international event is a great learning experience. The skills and knowledge gained during this experience will help staff develop and will aid in the progression of the course and facilities at Nairn Dunbar Golf Links

The opportunity also offered the four members of our team an unparalleled learning experience for our team with a list of benefits, including demonstrating personal growth development, develop professional skills, including problem solving and organisational abilities, advance BIGGA Continuing Professional Development credits ,the opportunity to network making new friends and contacts., experience another club’s operation and view what is involved in preparing a course for the best amateur golfers on the planet and a worldwide TV audience

I would like to thank Richie Ewan and Nairn GC for giving our team the opportunity to be involved as part of the tournament support for the biggest and most prestigious amateur event in the world.

Annual Meadow Grass Suppression

Like most Golf Courses in The UK, Nairn Dunbar Golf Links are trying to manage a percentage of Poa Annua (Annual Meadow Grass) within our Golf Greens, especially around perimeters and areas of increased wear due to traffic.

Due to the prolonged adverse weather conditions faced in the first 5 months of 2021 we have found the Annual Meadow Grass plant has started to seed around 4 weeks behind an average year and 8 weeks behind 2020. We find that being pro active and the use of data-driven decision making is important to achieve optimum performance of surfaces throughout the year.

Poa Annua is one of the most widely distributed weed problems that Course Managers in the Uk face as it is a prolific seed producer, producing 13,000 seeds per plant with no obvious dispersal mechanism. The seed can live for years in the soil and will germinate when it is exposed by a ball mark so this is why it is essential to repair your pitch marks regularly. Annual meadow-grass is also the most susceptible grass species to Microdochium nivale, the number one disease on fine turf surfaces in the UK. The surface conditions associated with annual meadow grass Poa annua are the polar opposite to those associated with the fine fescue and bent grasses. Greens which are dominated by grasses such as fescue and bent are typically firm, smooth, true and fast, whilst greens where Poa annua makes up the majority of the sward are typically soft, wet, spongy, unpredictable to play on and slow.

Total eradication is unlikely but management is possible and we are gradually reducing the content and improving the sward composition in favour of more desirable grasses suited to our links environment.

The timing of the following maintenance procedures have been key to try and suppress Poa Annua during the seeding period.

Apply Silicon – TurfRx Si is a potassium silicate formulation which is designed to provide efficient calcium and silicon nutrition, promote vertical growth, improve the plant health and wear tolerance. Silicon is deposited in the leaf cells, cell walls and cuticles which will result in a more erect and thicker leaf blade. This has made the removal of annual meadow grass seed heads easier when mowing by standing the seed heads upright. Enhancing cell wall structure will reduce ball markings, improve ball speeds, and improve overall playing surface performance.

Brushing – We have been using the Sports Metals brush attached to our greens mowers regularly. It follows the contours of our greens evenly which is ideal for standing up the grass before we mow to achieve an extra clean cut, removing as many seed heads as possible and obtaining a faster/smoother ball roll.

Reduce Water Applications / Apply Wetting agent – Over-watering only encourages the wrong grasses so we have only been applying enough water to keep the grass healthy and ensure the surface is receptive to incoming golf balls. Tri Smart wetting Agent has been applied to allow enhanced water movement through the profile, resulting in more aerobic conditions for efficient soil microbe activity.

Reduce Fertility – By applying a balanced nutritional feed will ensure the grass plant receives an adequate supply of essential nutrients without overfeeding. By lowering our annual nitrogen rates it will encourage more bents and fescues and less Poa Annua ingress.

Verti Cutting – This is the quickest most effective way of removing the seed and the stalks from within our sward. Verti-cutting allows for penetration to the base of the grass leaf and removes various unwanted weaker grasses and invasive species leaving us with a clean profile. Verti-cutting when the grass is actively growing is also an important cultural practice in the spring to remove any build up of dead material accumulated during the winter.

Regular Sand Topdressing – Light Topdressing of surfaces using our indigenous sand has given Nairn Dunbar several benefits. It helps us produce a smooth, true and firm putting surface. This year we aim to apply around 100-120 tonnes of sand topdressing which also help us regulate our Organic matter percentage at around 4/5% . Regular Topdressing also helps us Protect the crown of the plant and it has increased ball-roll distance. It may Allow increased mowing heights in the future when we obtain the right environment to encourage a fine links like sward.

Nairn Dunbar Golf Links Course maintenance team will to continue to encourage Sustainable Golf Course Management and the promotion of Fine Links grasses by cutting down on fertiliser, pesticides and over-watering. The Links grasses (bents and fescues) need less maintenance/cutting and the greens will continue to be firm and true all year round.

Spring 2021 – How It Affected Nairn Dunbar

Like most Golf Courses in The UK, Nairn Dunbar was effected by the prolonged adverse weather conditions faced in the first 5 months of 2021. A harsh winter rolled into a very wet and cold spring which left grass growth and ground conditions difficult to manage. Our reduced team have continued to work right through the pandemic with ongoing improvement and course maintenance projects in whatever Mother Nature has thrown at us.

Spring got off to a settled start but soon turned unseasonably cold, a notable feature throughout the month of March with northerly winds, snow showers and a record breaking number of frosts recorded at 22 from 30 days.

By Easter Monday there were more snow showers in the North and the frosts just kept on coming. The mean temperature for the month was 1.5 °C below average, with overnight temperatures being lowest relative to average. April delivered only 39% of our average rainfall, the sixth driest April since 1862.

May 2021 can easily be described as “cold and wet”. The mean temperature for the month was 1.2 °C below the long-term average, making it the coldest May in the last 26 years. It was also the second wettest May ever with over 110mm of rainfall compared to an average of 49mm. We battled prolonged disease pressure that remained a constant issue throughout May with the combination of heavy dews, extended periods of leaf wetness and some mild nights courtesy of cloud cover. After the first 5 months of 2021 we had only accumulated 146 Growth Degree Days leaving us 4 weeks behind average and a massive 8 weeks behind 2020.

At Nairn Dunbar we find that being pro active and the use of data-driven decision making is important to help us plan and implement sustainable management practices and achieve optimum performance of surfaces throughout the year.

The introduction of an integrated turf management plan 6 years ago has helped us reduce organic matter levels and introduce finer grasses, meaning our surfaces are now much less susceptible to disease. Having said this in late October a combination of heavy dews, extended periods of leaf wetness and some mild nights meant we did have a few greens affected by Microdochium nivale which left small scars and imperfections on surfaces through winter and into early spring 2021. Early season weather conditions made if difficult to aid recovery but we have worked hard to provide a true and smooth surface heading into the 2021 season.

Before undertaking any maintenance we have to take into account current conditions, the day forecast, health and safety and potential damage caused. The Scottish weather ultimately dictates how/when the golf course maintenance can be carried out here at Nairn Dunbar.

Luckily Summer 2021 has got off to a flying start and recent feedback has indicated our surfaces are performing well after a difficult start to 2021.

Reconstruction of Bridge Crossing 16th Ditch

After the bridge showed signs of deterioration in early 2021 we took the decision to reconstruct the bridge using brand new sleepers and grip clad anti slip material.

The performance has been outstanding thus far, it has coped with the wear and tear of traffic and the anti slip material has performed well in all weathers.

A special thanks to handyman Charlie Duffy, Kenny Campbell and Alan Ewing for their help completing the installation of the new sleepers and GripClad anti slip materials.

We would also like to recognise the excellent service from Gordons Sawmill who provided the materials reinstate the bridge at very short notice.

New Machinery – John Deere 7500A & 2 x 2750 E-Cut Hybrid Mowers

Nairn Dunbar Golf Links are delighted to add a John Deere 7500A E-Cut Hybrid fairway mower and two John Deere 2750 E-Cut Hybrid Greens triplex mowers to our current fleet of machinery.

Nairn Dunbar have built a strong relationship with local John Deere dealers, Macgregors Industrial Supplies, having purchased several pieces of equipment over the last 10 years. The new pieces of machinery will replace two of our 16 year old Toro 3250D triplex mowers and 10 year old Toro 3100 sidewinder which were all becoming unreliable and costing too much money to continually repair.

In late 2020 we set out to demo different cutting equipment from three different suppliers to ensure we invested in best piece of equipment to match our needs. All members of staff had the opportunity to trial all the machinery and feedback forms were used to grade the performance of each machine. We found that the John Deere equipment came out on top on almost all aspects including comfort, ease of use, quality of cut, lower operating costs, noise reduction and ease of maintenance.

The reliable, robust design and ‘easy to use’ operator controls, make these machines very ‘user friendly’ with the standard features of the 2750 E-Cut including diesel engine w/ electronic throttle control, electric Reel Drive, consistent cut quality regardless of operator, tech control advanced supervisory controls, frequency of Clip mode, premium contour following, increased level of supervisory control with advanced passcode protected TechControl display, walk Greens Mower-like cut quality , budget and operator-friendly Eco-mode, excellent cut quality in undulations and perimeters using three-axis contour following system, accessible, easy-to-use grass catchers on the open platform, more efficiency and lower operating costs with an electronically controlled, liquid-cooled diesel engine, reduce the risk of a damaging hydraulic leak with an electric reel drive system that eliminates hydraulic leak points, power reel drive motors with 56-V alternator, requiring no additional batteries onboard, minimize potential marking in turns with Turn Speed setting and accurate, crisp clean-up cuts provided by innovative Clean-up Pass mode.

The 7500A E-Cut fairway mower also features a powerful turbocharged diesel engine for increased performance, load match electronic setting compensates speed of machine to keep power to the cutting units to maintain cut quality, tech control display maximizes performance and up-time by allowing more control in operation and diagnostics, grip all wheel drive traction system provides superior traction by reducing wheel slip, eHydro hydrostatic pump and large capacity wheel motors for serious hill climbing capabilities, easy accessible daily service points mean less maintenance time and more time working and the cutting units are stable and fold inside the front tyres for easy transporting.

The hybrid mowers fit in well with the club’s goal of becoming GEO Certified® as the machines have lower RPM, reduced emissions and reduced hydraulic components which will result in less oil spills on the course.

A huge thanks to the management committee for showing their desire to invest and improve.

Reconstruction of 13th Hole Greenside Bunker

As part of our ongoing winter maintenance projects we took the decision to reconstruct the front left greenside bunker on hole thirteen. The previous bunkers revetted face had began to deteriorate, so it was essential that we reconstructed the bunker as part of our winter projects 2020/21 . We have dropped the bunker a little deeper into the ground and have shaped the bunker to fit the surrounding contours which will now stand out better to those playing shots towards the two tier green.

The old bunker face was removed and a terram liner was installed before the new revetted face was built to guard the left hand side of the green. The revetted face was built with turf from our turf nursery and the surrounding area has been turfed with fescue to match the surrounding area. Fresh sand has been added before the bunker is taken back into play for the 2021 season.

ETL / R&A Soil Sample Analysis

During the visit from R&A Agronomist Richard Windows on 19/04/21 we received the results from our soil samples taken last month. The soil samples were taken from 3 of our indicator greens to establish a detailed analysis of our soil profile and provide us with information to plan the management and development of our surfaces.

The soil testing service ETL provides will cover aspects such as; Organic Matter Content – organic matter levels are highly influential in determining the quality of our soil structure, water infiltration rates, nutrient and water holding capacities of our turf. The organic matter content in our soil profile will be measured from these core samples we are providing them with. This will give a percentage of organic matter concentration at four depths within our soil’s profile.

Nutrient Testing – this will Provide us with an additional insight into the condition of our sports turf and will identify the probable causes of any turf stress. These tests will indicate problem areas that are not yet apparent in the turf and can help save us time and money by identifying and dealing with these before they cause any damage to our surfaces.

This advanced service will provide the R&A Agronomy team and the Course Manager with detailed data and analysis of the performance of our surfaces, which feeds directly into our management and maintenance strategies and plans.

The data shows a consistent set of results with almost all within target , meaning no extra management is needed to rectify any issues

This is down to all the hard work from the team over the last year to make sure there was no negative effect from reduced resources due to COVID 19.

Reconstruction of 13th Hole Fairway Bunkers

As part of our ongoing winter maintenance projects we took the decision to reconstruct both of the fairway bunkers on hole thirteen. The previous bunkers face had began to deteriorate, so it was essential that we reconstructed the bunker as part of our winter projects 2020/21 . The bunkers have been moved ever so slightly nearer the fairway and have been shaped to fit the surrounding contours which will now stand out better from the tee.

The old bunker face was removed and a terram liner was installed before the new pot bunker was built which will now gather errant shots played towards the right hand side of the fairway and guard the line for those chasing distance off the tee in an attempt to reach the green in two. The revetted face was built with turf from our turf nursery and the surrounding area has been turfed with fescue to match the surrounding area. Fresh sand has been added before the bunker is taken back into play for the 2021 season.

Staff Training – BIGGA CPD Approved Member Certificate

On 15/04/2021 Course Manager Richard Johnstone was awarded with a BIGGA CPD Approved member Certificate in recognition of his continued education and training in 2021.

The BIGGA CPD Scheme is made up of members who are looking to improve their professional knowledge and competence within the industry while developing skills and personal qualities necessary for the execution of technical duties throughout their working life.

“No professional should stand still – we’re all learning, all the time.