STRI visit the Links

Over the last week all seven of our courses here at the Links have received their annual spring visit from STRI (Sports Turf Research Institute) to assess conditions as we head into high season. Richard Windows, Agronomy Manager walked all of the courses with respective Course Managers.

During the week members from the Greens Sub Committee took the opportunity to come out onto the courses to find out exactly what tests are carried out during Richard’s visit.

New Course test
Testing on the 12th green of the New Course.

We receive two visits per year to assess the performance of the courses and discuss maintenance plans for the coming months – one in spring and then again in autumn. The four main areas assessed are:

This is measured using a device called a clegg meter which calculates how firm the greens are. This is done by dropping a steel ball, which replicates the golf ball, onto the green surface and the measurement of bounce gives us the results in gravities. We generally aim for around 100-120 gravities.

The levels of moisture are measured by inserting a probe into the surface which simply gauges the percentage of moisture present in the turf. This allows us to implement our irrigation strategy and determines how much (if any) water is applied to the course. Our target is usually around 10-12% water moisture content.

Organic Matter
This is a measurement of how much sand content there is in the profile against soil content. This is done by sampling cores from six test greens which are sent to the lab and weighed. The organic matter is then burned off in an oven, the samples are reweighed and the difference gives us the percentage of organic matter in each green. This then allows us to determine the amount of sand topdressing we will apply to further reduce levels. Our target is usually about 3-4% organic matter with an annual target of applying 100 tonnes of sand per hectare to the greens surfaces.

Old Course graph
Chart displays Old Course organic matter levels for various greens tested.

Smoothness and Trueness
Probably the most important measurement taken, smoothness and trueness determines how well the ball rolls across the surface. The machine pictured below tests the surface to see how true and smooth the surface is which helps inform specific maintenance strategies to produce the perfect putting surface. Obviously it’s good to have fast surfaces but equally important that the ball runs true and smooth.

smooth and true

Once all the data has been received and digested STRI convert the information into a comprehensive report stating the maintenance required to produce the best possible surfaces.

So after a considerably wet winter there is plenty to do in preparation for what will be another busy season here at the Home of Golf.

Words by Gordon McKie, Course Manager – Old Course

Related Posts