Machrihanish Dunes Golf Course Update – June, 2014

Our monthly golf course update from our Head Greenkeeper, Simon Freeman:

I am usually the first to moan about the weather, but in truth it has been quite kind to us during the past month. The result of this favourable spell (and a lot of hard work by the Dunes greenkeeping team, of course!) is that we have managed to improve the greens to the point where we are now able to concentrate our efforts on steadily improving the surface of the greens and making them better to putt on. Annual meadow grass is a major component species in our greens, and our efforts have been hampered by the usual forest of seedheads that this grass produces during May and June as part of its survival strategy. Cutting it shorter does not reduce this grass’ ability to seed, so we have been attempting to refine it by regularly verticutting (to remove as much lateral growth as possible) and then topdressing with sand and seeding in the bare patches (using a specially tailored mixture of fescue cultivars designed to offer maximum resistance to salt damage at low levels of fertility).

15th greenView from the newly rebuilt 15th fairway, looking toward the 14th fairway

As with all mechanical practices, we need to be careful that we do not over-do the verticutting as it can pretty quickly impact plant health, and the motion of the cutters will mercilessly rip out the new seedlings that we have worked so hard to cultivate. Maintaining a healthy chemical, biological and mechanical balance and working towards an agreed long-term goal will yield the best results.

The weather conditions have helped to thicken up the fairways as well as the greens, and it has allowed us to mow in some good early-season definition. The effects of our cutting program has been overshadowed recently by the display of wild flowers growing in the roughs – despite our best efforts to present the playing surfaces in as attractive a manner as we can, it is impossible for us to compete against nature`s ability to capture the attention with this impressive display of colour. It definitely softens the blow of having to search for a wayward pro-v1 when you get to admire acres of buttercups, orchids and bluebells along the way!

Early season orchid in the rough areaEarly season orchid, surrounded by buttercups, in the rough area

Now that we almost have a full covering of grass back on the greens, our focus over the next few weeks will shift towards competition preparation. First up, we have the Scottish Area Boys Team Championships on Sunday 8th June (a  very prestigious event, and one we are proud to be hosting), and then we have the second coming of our annual Campbeltown Open on Saturday, June 28th. We hope to see as many of you as possible for that–it should be a fantastic event!

We look forward to seeing you out on the course over the next few weeks.


Simon Freeman
Head Greenkeeper