Rescue aids fescue at Bearwood


Rescue aids fescue at Bearwood
Sean Dudley

Daniel Lightfoot, course manager at Bearwood Lakes in England is reporting positive results from using the new Rescue selective herbicide from Syngenta.

Lightfoot is using Rescue to target ryegrass and Yorkshire fog grasses in the Martin Hawtree-designed course’s rough areas, in an attempt to promote a stand dominated by fescues, giving a wispy, open look but making it easier for players to find and hit their golf balls. “The best endorsement I’ve had is the members’ overwhelming silence,” he said. “When I first came here I constantly had adverse comments about the rough, and how difficult it was to play. Since we’ve been using Rescue and better practices to manage the rough more effectively we’ve seen a great improvement that’s been welcomed by the players.”

Bearwood’s fairways and semi-roughs are a mixture of ryegrass, fescue and poa annua, but Lightfoot says he needs to avoid the ryegrass intruding into the fescue deep rough, along with other coarse weed grasses, primarily Yorkshire fog. “The rough is every bit as key to the course as the main play areas, visually and for making shots,” he said. “It has to look right and play right.”

“The first day I took over here, six years ago, I stood with managing director Carl Rutherford on the clubhouse balcony and he asked me what I thought the biggest area of concern was on the course,” he said. “We could see players were in the rough looking for a ball. I told him: ‘That’s the biggest problem – wasting time, slow play, annoyed members.’ We had to do something about making the rough tough, but friendlier.”

“We started looking at the potential of selective herbicides for the control of competitive coarse grasses to help the establishment of wildflowers in rough, as part of the pioneering Operation Pollinator research,” said Daniel. “It was quickly apparent that there was real potential to manage all the rough grass areas more effectively, to remove the aggressive ryegrass and coarse grasses that were muscling out the desirable finer fescue species.”

Now, since integrating Syngenta’s Rescue into the annual maintenance management plan, he reckons they have turned the corner. All rough areas, except one close to the clubhouse, have now been sprayed at least once and the incidence of weed grasses reduced significantly. The second hole has had a further application, and here the fescue waves in almost total dominance.

Lightfoot plans to continue to cut and collect all the vegetative material from the rough – a practice that keeps fertility low and encourages fescue grasses. But as the rough gets thinner with less ryegrass content, it’s a faster and less costly exercise, with less material to remove and compost.

His on-going plan is to spray Rescue once or twice yearly, until the rough is predominantly fescue. Around four hectares of rough that currently requires the intensive attention. After a couple of years of blanket spraying, he believes sufficient control will have been achieved to enable further treatments to be limited to spot treatment or patch spraying of rogue intrusions.

“Bit by bit we are creating an environment that favours fescue and is unwelcoming to ryegrass,” said Lightfoot. “It’s a war being won. Players can find their ball more easily and hit it that bit more cleanly.”

One member said: “The wispy rough is back up to knee height, but it doesn’t grow so thick at its base. It gives you a penalty, but on the whole you are able to find your ball. I believe they have got it spot on this year.”