Greenkeepers’ Question Time: Your questions answered

Our panel respond to queries about rough and the damage done by crows and worms

How can we tackle the takeover of broad leaf grasses and resultant horrendous rough most clubs have encountered over the last few years, and the resultant losing of balls?

Jon, Colchester

Rob: There are now chemicals currently that will help combat these grasses. However, these grasses have been around for many years and I believe they have not taken over the rough at all. The semi-rough should be maintained to a suitable height to allow a golfer to both locate and play a ball. The rough is exactly what it says, “Rough”. The development of new equipment is partly to blame for this problem, with all ages and standards of golfer now being able to hit the ball further. Unfortunately this may result in shots further off line and deeper into the rough.

When greenkeepers rebuild bunkers and put in new tees, do they get good players to hit

shots to ensure they are in the right place?

Barry, Andover

Dave: There is always a plan to these things which usually include the head greenkeeper, pro, the greens chairman, the general manager, even possibly architects. The problem is when asking good players is how many do you ask, do you ask the one who likes to hit it with a fade, do you ask the golfer who hits a draw, do you ask the good golfer who likes to hit it as far as possible or the one who plays the percentage shot.

A particular problem that seems to be affecting my course (The Hertfordshire) is the damage being done by crows digging for insects/worms etc around certain areas of the course. At present they seem to be picking on areas around some of the bunkers and tee boxes. With the tee boxes it’s mainly the grass adjoining them, but there are a couple of tees where they have started on the actual teeing area.

Fortunately they seem to have left the greens and immediate surrounds alone which is a

blessing, because if this were northern France you would think that the damage could have been inflicted by wild boar on their truffle hunts.

Kevin, Herts
I would rather drain the soil properly than disrupt the surface with a mole plough for a temporary gain, which is why I prefer to drain my subsoil with a piped drainage system David: Speaking from an experience recently at a local course there are many factors – the one thing they are desperate for is worms, the chafer grub which is meaty and juicy and fills them up for the winter period. Due to it being a wet year the chafers are closer to the surface and have had a good feast themselves. I am afraid to kill the chafer it has to be done at an early stage in May/June but it is not normally as bad a problem as this year and you have to weigh up the cost and environmental issues of spraying the whole course for a grub which does not normally cause this many issues. Greens, tees and aprons are sprayed regularly for worms. This in turn effects the chafer grub so the hunter never picks on these areas. Some say if it is badgers leave them peanuts as they love these and it may put them off the scent of the grub, as for the crows there is not a lot you can do about them, once the cold weather arrives the damage will cease and the areas effected will come back quite quickly.

The golf club where I play has a clay base and we are frequently troubled by excess water on the course. A number of years ago the staff used mole draining but currently use vertidraining to withdraw the water. I would like to know if golf clubs still use mole drains as I have been advised that they are no longer used.

J Slater, via email

Bear: I use my vertidrain almost constantly to assist with surface drainage and consider it to be an essential task. I believe in some cases mole ploughs are still used for drainage but in my opinion they are a fading technology. Mole ploughs do offer an improvement to the soil structure but only temporarily and I believe drainage should be done right in the first place so that it lasts for a considerable amount of time. I would rather drain the soil properly than disrupt the surface with a mole plough for a temporary gain, which is why I prefer to drain my subsoil with a piped drainage system and use the vertidrain to move water down from the surface and away through the drains. I have only used a mole plough to lay irrigation cables and pipes.


This is a regular feature – so please email the points you’d like answered to:


Rob Davy

Club: Walmersley, Lancashire

Richard ‘The Bear’ Garrard

Club: Merlin, Cornwall

David Collins

Club: Lickey Hills, West Midlands

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