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What's happening in Scotland this week?

The Swilcan Bridge and R&A in the background.
I recently had the opportunity to visit several golf courses in Scotland on a trip to speak to greenkeepers of the Central BIGGA (British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association) region of Scotland. As in keeping with the theme of the blog, there was no shortage of diseases appearing in the region, but the attention and importance of the diseases was anything buy high.

One of the amazing things that I have noticed in my recent trips to the UK is the lack of importance many of the diseases play when it comes to turf management.  Dollar spot and red thread (yes red thread) caused significant symptoms to much of lean fairway turf found in the region.  Unlike in the states, however, the dollar spot always seemed to be superficial and only caused spots and lesions to the turf. Red thread symptoms were similar, but would generally be considered much more severe than what we see on golf courses in the states.

Dr. Dernoeden getting photos for his collection
Fairy ring continues to be obviously one of the biggest problems on the golf courses in the region.  Many golf courses were now starting to utilize wetting agents as a means to manage the problem and prevent hydrophic conditions from setting in.  In severe instances, fungicides like azoxystrobin were being applied in combination with the wetting agents to combat chronic cases of fairy ring.  Another disease that we observed causing significant damage was take-all patch.  Not new to the UK, the disease continues to cause problems for greenkeepers in the region particularly in years with a wet spring.

Probably the most interesting "disease" found on some of the courses was the presence of what was referred to as dry patch.  This was different from localized dry spot, but basically was described by the greenkeepers as a sunken depression in the turf in which the thatch was being broken down by a basidiomycete fungus similar to what we see with fairy ring.  The patches, however, resembled take-all patch, but a quick smell of the thatch area gave the clear indication of the presence of a mushroom fungi.

The use of PGRs has become more common in the UK.
In most cases, the diseases observed were more of an unsightly nuisance.  The differences in management practices, the acceptance of brown conditions (as long as playability was not compromised), and the lack of golf carts on the courses were significant.  It continues to be my feeling that golf course management in the UK and the United States is gradually getting closer together.  The increased use of products like wetting agents, PGRs, and select fungicides by those in the UK and the relatively new trend of "firm and fast" and "brown is the new green" by those in the US seem to have the two management styles on a crash course.  It kind of reminds my of politics where you have a lot of people in the middle, but there will always be those taking an extreme right or left side.  Either way, it should keep things interesting over the next decade and beyond.

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