The diversity in weather conditions, and in particular rainfall, continued throughout October with parts of western UK recording more rain in one day than many parts in the south and east for the whole of the month. This trend in a north/south and east/west divide has been a feature throughout 2011 and, as such, turf managers have had to adapt work programmes accordingly.
For some, moving water off site and through the profile has been of paramount importance to keep courses playable, whereas a number of courses were still requiring some degree of irrigation during the first 2 to 3 weeks of the month. With the entire country now receiving rain, some degree of normality has at last returned.
October, for most, has generally been a mild month with early morning ground frosts largely confined to the more northern parts of the UK. Mowing has continued to most areas while increasing amounts of time have also been required in blowing leaves from greens, tees, fairways and parts of semi-rough which, if left uncleared, would result in lost ball searches. With higher moisture levels, worm activity has increased along with the inevitable risk of disease attack; the typical sign that winter is just round the corner!
Although temperatures remained favourable and growth continued, anyone carrying out extensive aeration and top dressing programmes last month would probably have experienced annoying delays, either due to rain or dampness. However, better late than never, and also while there is still time for at least a slow recovery while warm southerly air streams remain.
For November, recent trends have tended to be relatively mild and wet, particularly 2009, but last year was drier than average for many. With around half the country still at rainfall totals well short of the norm, there is every likelihood that this could be ‘balanced’ out by a wet end to the year, therefore it is important to being prepared.
Early morning frosts have tended to be few and far between, whereas mild and wet conditions will raise disease pressure as well as heavier infestations of worm casting for many courses. With reduced hours of daylight, morning play can be particularly busy but afternoons quiet, and it is during this time when most work can be completed with only minor interruptions.
November is also the month when clearing leaves becomes the daily routine, although not all courses are affected. Our 130 or so links courses and those on open downland do not have to allocate time for this task, and are also fortunate not to be affected by problems of shade.
Greens that are blessed with good levels of light and air movement tend to contain the more desirable fine leaved grasses, cost less to maintain and provide good, year round playing conditions. It is, of course, no co-incidence that golf was generally restricted to these open links up until the end of 19th century.