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Mid Sussex Golf Club

greenkeepers blog

march blog

  

March is the beginning of the golfing season. With competitions starting and some friendly matches on the fixture sheet we are all eager to get our game in shape for the summer ahead. With 110mm of rainfall during march, this has given us one of the wettest starts to the season I can remember. Whilst the course has held up well, the weather has taken its toll. In order to keep the course open, we have had to manage the traffic to the best of our ability to ensure minimum damage is caused to the course. We have done our best to keep the course open and playable as much as possible, i hope you’ll agree.

The 9th drainage works is now complete. The contractors have installed the working drains, which has eliminated the flow of water from the road onto the apron. The drain that the green keepers have installed on the apron has also prevented some puddling in the low spots. We are now just waiting for the turf roots to take and then the area will be fully open for play once again. We apologise for the disruption and thank you for your patience.

The greens have come out of winter in fantastic condition and we have been inundated with good feedback in the last month. The regular aeration program along with the treatments of iron, phosphites and a light feed have given the turf every chance to be healthy and disease free. We have added some humic and fulvic acid into the soil profile which is a bio-stumulant, increasing the rootzone’s ability to hold nutrients. As our greens are sand based, they hold little nutrients and require intense management to ensure the plant has enough nutrition to stay healthy.

Our maintenance session is this week, and having such wet weather we have had to adjust our processes slightly. Our plan is to use the scarifying units we have borrowed to remove  thatch in the top 10mm of the surface, then verticutting to remove lateral growth.  Solid tining after that, followed by overseeding with bent seed, with a light sand dressing to finish. This will be done over 2 days. This process will mean less disruption to the surface than our original plan, which involved filling tine holes with sand. Recovery will be swift and this maintenance will help provide a firm and true putting surface throughout the season.

The Vertidrain has been working away in the last month on the tees and some areas on the fairways to help water movement. The greens were also done last week ahead of maintenance this week to promote root growth as soil temperatures are slowly beginning to rise. The plinths have been taken in, sanded down and varnished to give them a facelift.  Over the course of the winter we have worked our way through all of the course furniture. I hope you all agree the difference is noticeable.

Looking ahead we have a few items of machinery booked for demonstration. We have a fairway scarifier coming in to hit the fairways with. This will remove some organic matter from the surface and if done on a regular basis, should help reduce water retention.  We also have some powered blowers coming in to help remove the excess left on the fairway. We are also hoping to get the tees done with this machine.

That covers everything for this month, hope to see you on the course!

Paul Oliver - Golf Course Manager

FEBRUARY BLOG

February has been a productive month on the course having had a mixture of weather over the last 4 weeks. Some heavy spells of rain have caused some wet spots on the course, meaning some holes (the 9th and 11th in particular) have suffered more than most. As you may already be aware, the 9th is not a simple fix as the water is coming off the road, down our entrance and onto the 9th apron but be reassured we are in the process of rectifying the issue with drainage being installed by a contractor to catch as much water as possible before it gets on the course. This work will hopefully be fully installed by the end of March.

The “Beast from the East” left the course with a good covering of snow last week meaning the course was shut for a while. Thankfully it did not hang around for too long as temperatures were sinking as low as -16 degrees Celsius! The team still kept busy even though the course was shut giving the tee plaques a much needed lick of paint (they look like new) and some more clearing work on the 12th, 14th and 16th.

The greens are holding up well for the time of year with our aeration program continuing through twelve months of the year. We used the shallow slitter last week to create small slits into the thatch layer and help break surface tension and allow water to penetrate the surface. The incoming cold weather will help suppress any fungal disease on the greens with an added application if iron being added today to help strengthen the plant over the next few weeks. The tees also got an application of iron to give them some colour and strength. On the subject of disease, next month we lose another important chemical which was used to combat disease on turf. Iprodione will be coming off the market which narrows the fungicide group for turf down to 5 chemicals. Along with Carbnedazim (worm cast suppressant), Chlorpiryfos (leatherjacket control) and Imidacloprid (chaffer grub control) and some other fungicide chemicals also being reoved, the task of trying to control pests and diseases grows ever more challenging.

On a more positive note, we have managed strip and level 2 more small tees on the course. The 2nd ladies and 14th ladies were particularly poor and also easily accessible from pathways making them easy for us to work on. They have now been completed and will be back in action hopefully for the start of the season.

The clearing work on the 4th hole is now complete for this season. The left side of the hole has been thinned out and tidied along with the 5th hole to create a better aesthetics and more chance of finding a wayward ball off the tee. The plantation by the 14th green/15th tee has also been cleared again. This area may be used for a wild flower plantation later in the year. Our next clearing project will be on the left side of the 12th hole leading up to the bunker.

Whilst we had a wet spell of weather some of the green keepers exchanged their dew brushes for paint brushes! The spike bar and conservatory had a lick of paint to give these areas a bit of a facelift. Should we get anymore bouts of prolonged wet weather we may do some other areas of the clubhouse

It saddens me to say that we have a reoccurrence of a golfer or golfers taking divots out of the greens and collars on the course. Please be vigilant and report any such acts to a member of staff as this is being classed as vandalism and will not be tolerated.

In team news, Matt has passed his probationary period and now officially a full time member of staff. Well done Matt!  Rob and Pat are now complete on their NVQ’s with their completion date at the end of February. Once their work is handed in, it will be assessed and they will be signed off.  Danny is also progressing nicely. He is also starting his pesticide application certificate next month which will enable him to handle and apply pesticides on the course. Dan is motoring along with his level 3 and my course is also going well, although challenging at times!

Looking forward to spring we are thinking about fertiliser and course maintenance procedure with use of some new machinery to help improve the surfaces on the course. Thatch build up is problem on many areas of the course so with that in mind we will be starting a program combat this build up. With the project list growing all the time, we have plenty to do in the next few month and we are all eager to continue to impact the course positively.

That’s all for this month, enjoy your golf and see you on the course.

Paul Oliver, Golf Course Manager.

BLOG CONTINUED:

Drainage Projects

Further to my February Course Blog, I thought I would give you an update on our Drainage Projects.

NINTH FAIRWAY

As you know, winter drainage on the 9th fairway has been a problem for some time. It had been thought that flooding from the pond was a significant contributory factor. Last summer, we created a new ditch to carry excess water from the pond as well as clearing and enlarging the existing overflow drains.   These have worked extremely well but the drainage problem has persisted.

We now have clear evidence that the problem is being caused by flooding from Spatham Lane. Excess water from the entrance has been finding its way along the pathway alongside the 10th tee and down towards the 9th green and ending up on the approach.

We have been in dialogue with East Sussex Highways Department for several months and it seems that we cannot rely on them (not in the immediate term at any rate) to do anything constructive to prevent the flow of the water on to our property. We have decided, therefore, to greatly enhance our ability to deal with the Spatham Lane "over flow", once the water has reached our property.

Contractors will be starting tomorrow to install a drainage system starting at the gate by the 10the tee, with two gullies, one each side of the road situated at the low point of the entrance where the water gathers. This will then be taken along the path in a series of drains and into the pond on the 9th. The path leading from the 9th green will also be resurfaced.

In an effort to stop the approach puddling, we have already installed two more drains on the fairway beside the pond to help keep the area dry and in play. We have also landscaped this area to direct the flow of any remaining surface water into a gully and then into the pond.

We are confident that the combination of these two projects will greatly improve the playability of this area and will contribute to keeping the course open more frequently during bouts of prolonged wet weather.


ELEVENTH FAIRWAY

We are also investigating the condition of the drainage on the 11th fairway.  Historically, the upper reaches of this fairway have not been a particular problem but this winter the drainage in that area has been troublesome. 

As you know, we have already cleared and replaced the drainage within the fairway bunkers in readiness for the late Spring golfing season and we know that these are working well. However, our preliminary investigations suggest that the drains between the green and fairway bunkers are blocked and leaking.

 We have decided that rather than try to repair these, we will install a new series of drains, as well as run new ditches along both sides of the fairway. We are determined to get this problem solved once and for all!

These works will be fairly time consuming and will require some heavy machinery to access the course. We can start these works once the ground has began to dry out, and you can be assured that we will do so as soon as practical.

THE COURSE

Notwithstanding the difficulties outlined above on the 9th and 11th fairways, the remainder of the course has performed remarkably well in difficult conditions. Even when torrential rain has caused localised flooding, the course has drained fairly quickly. Our aim is to get all our fairways up to the same high standards.

We have a long list of "special projects" - bunkers, erosion etc - for the coming months and we are determined to continue the improvements which you have seen in recent years.

JANUARY BLOG

Hello to all,

A little bit late but still I would like to welcome everyone in to the New Year.

The depths of winter are in full swing as we go forward into February, not the kind of cold winter we hoped for with the amount of rainfall over Dec/Jan - hitting 221mm! Understandably then, the course has seen some closures over the past couple of weeks.

Some parts of the course have been hit harder than others resulting in hole closures 8-12. We are doing everything we can to try and bring these back into play although with the trying ground conditions it is proving difficult to get any machinery out there to rectify the problems.

The tree work around the course is progressing, which is definitely tidying up the areas and improving aesthetics of certain holes. The trees between 2 and 14 are the latest targets and the area is nearing completion. When they begin to grow in spring I believe that the improvements will be very noticeable when compared to last year. To improve the drainage on the greens and tees the verti-drainer has been out again, I am sure you will have noticed the difference on the teeing and putting surfaces. The returfing of the 12th white tee and the wall in the 18th bunker are rooting nicely, the tee will probably be put back into play in the spring and the bunker within a few weeks, so no more free drops I’m afraid!

Work on other bunkers around the course needing attention should be commencing soon as we are forecast some dry weather for the next week. Hopefully this should help the course dry enough for us to get out with the machines.

Regarding pathways and roped areas please do not walk underneath the ropes, as with excessive traffic when the ground is this wet it does not take long for the areas to get a little swamp like. There are signs directing you on which way to go. The newest section of roped area is the 13th, if everybody could enter and exit the green from the front next to the bunkers that would be greatly appreciated.

With the weather not being as cold as usual for the time of year we are, unfortunately, beginning to see disease showing on the greens. This is due to warmer, wetter weather than that which is normally associated with winter. Disease management is very important as if not kept on top of then it can quickly overrun the green. We have been performing regular checks to ensure the spread of disease is at a minimum, spraying iron or fungicide when necessary.

We did manage to get the first cut of most of the fairways which were getting out of hand, they will hopefully now be cut when required on a more regular basis weather permitting.

The greenkeeping team have also been doing a little moonlighting as decorators the past few weeks, paining the doors in the clubhouse. With one final door remaining to finish off the end product should look good.

Thank you for your time,

Hope you enjoy the course.

Dan Chaplin

Deputy Course Manager

DECEMBER BLOG 

The festive season has been a good month on the course, tackling some areas that have been left unmanaged for long periods of time. Due to high levels of rain and frosty mornings we’ve had over the last month, accessibility around the course has been tricky to say the least! This however does not mean there is nothing to do! The chainsaw and strimmers have been working away relentlessly to clear some untidy areas of the golf course. The area between the 7th and 12th has had a facelift, clearing away some self-seeding trees and thinning out the scrub which enhances the view across the course. The area between 4th and 5th has also had a clear out, the small island in the stream now looks presentable and the view from the 4th tee should have clearer view for those who strike it left of the tee.

The turf for the 18th bunker and the 12th tee was slightly delayed to heavy snowfall at the turf suppliers but thankfully it cleared quickly and enabled us to get the turf down before Christmas. We look forward to getting the tee back in play before the season starts and the bunker should be back in play soon. We would have liked to have stripped a few more tees before Christmas, however the wet weather has made it impossible to access dump sites and manoeuvre waste around the course without causing damage. We will endeavour to do as many as we can when the weather allows us to.

We have put a plan together to help combat some of the flooding on the 9th approach. As the water feeds down from the road, down our entrance and flows down the path alongside the 10th tee, this causes constant flooding and is essentially destroying that part of the course. We intend to install channel drains along the 10th pathway and revamp the small path leading from the 9th green. This will catch all the rainwater and feed it into the pond before it reaches the 9th apron and fairway.

In team news Rob and Pat have nearly completed their Level 2 qualifications with only a matter of weeks to go. Dan has completed and passed his chainsaw maintenance and cross cutting course so can now use a chainsaw on the course. Dan, Matt and I have also recently completed grinder training. This will allow us to sharpen all blades on our cutting units throughout the year, ensuring the quality of cut is clean and sharp all year round. Cutting with blunt blades can affect the health of turf, as a cleanly cut blade heals quickly compared to torn blade, which puts the plant under stress and making it susceptible to disease, particularly this time of year.

We are now putting together some thoughts towards what we intend to achieve in 2018. 2017 was a tough year with lots of changes, not just in the greens department, but across the entire business. So with a more stable team in place and in all other departments, we hope to have a progressive year with the focus on enhancing the course for your pleasure. The feedback from all the members, guests and even visitors from other clubs has been fantastic over the last 12 months, particularly during the last few months going into winter with reports of other courses suffering with the wet weather.

That’s it for this month and also 2018. From me and everyone in the Greenkeeping Department, we hope you had a great Christmas and have a prosperous New Year.

See you on the course,

Paul Oliver, Golf Course Manager


NOVEMBER BLOG

           

The course is holding up well considering the level of rainfall in the last month. Needless to say there are still some areas that are becoming extremely soft and we are doing our best to manage this as best we can, and with your cooperation it will minimise the damage to the course.  The greens are in particularly good shape heading into winter with the fungicide program doing its job and the regular aeration work keeping moisture from the surface. We aim to get the slitter out once a week where possible, making use of the weather windows that are presented to us as this time of year it tends to be either wet or frozen! The grass has finally slowed down giving us the opportunity to carry out some project work throughout the winter.

This weekend is the Greenkeeper’s revenge. We have been scheming away to try and challenge both your patience and ability! We hope you enjoy the weekend, we look forward to hearing how people got on!

2 of the fairway bunkers on the 11th have been out of play for a while due to the clay base becoming extremely soft, deeming them unplayable. We plan to use some chalk we have obtained to raise the base of the bunkers, making them shallower and also firmer under foot to give a stable base. Whilst we would like to get this job done immediately, the soft ground conditions are not ideal for carting heavy loads of material across the course, so this will be done as soon as we can, without causing damage.

The 18th fairway bunker is almost complete, with the back edge just waiting for turf. We have already had great feedback from some of the members about the turf wall, it gives a slightly different aspect than the other bunkers on the course and certainly a challenge for those who end up in it!

The 12th white tee has been stripped and levelled. This was a particularly poor tee with minimal grass coverage and an unhealthy profile. We plan to get as many of the poorest tees done over the next few months’ weather permitting, as there are many that need attention.

Winter is the time for tree work which will continue from last year. The clearing and strimming work will take place across the course, along with chainsaw work to tidy tree plantations, removing unwanted growth and allowing the desirable trees to flourish as well as making these areas look tidier. The 6th carry has been our first place, raising the crown of the healthier trees and knocking back the brambles. We are also going to clear the area between 7 and 12. The drain on the 6th is complete with the turf being laid a couple of weeks ago.

In team news, we have our new mechanic in the greenkeeping department. Matt has already displayed his skills with servicing and minor fixes and will be a good addition to the team. Everyone is progressing well with their training courses and a few of us will have some extra in house training in the next few months.

Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my team for their efforts through the year. There have been a lot of early starts, long days and late finishes which do not go unnoticed, so thanks for all your hard work throughout the year.

That’s it for this month and essentially this year as 2017 comes to an end. From everyone here in the Greens department, we wish you a great Christmas and a happy new year.

Paul Oliver - Golf Course Manager


October blog

Autumn is well and truly here and as the clocks change we are heading into November with the course in good condition. Disease has struck on the greens recently with September’s rainfall being so high and mild damp conditions creating perfect conditions for disease to spread. Applications of fungicide have prevented any lasting damage so as the growth slows down we are in great shape going into winter with very little scarring on the greens. The preventative fungicide program will continue until December/January. Applications of iron, potassium, phosphites and calcium will help increase the plan health minimising the risk of outbreak and we have also raised the height of cut on the greens to 4.5mm which will help reduce plant stress. The Vertidraining we’ve recently carried out will help get the moisture away from the surface which also encourages disease, moss and surface water build up. I would just like to say a quick thank you to Barry Stacey for his help over the last week. We try to cause as little disturbance to play as possible when carrying out such operations but on the occasions that we are amongst the golf Barry has helped our department by liaising with both visitors and members to help minimise disturbance for both parties. It helps massively so thanks Barry! As well as dragging a chain, we have purchased some fairway roller brushes to help combat the mess left by the fairway mower. It is worth mentioning at this point that worm casts are also a contributing factor towards the clumping. As the soil becomes wetter, the worms become more active making more casts which smear on the surface and the only chemical on the amenity market has now been withdrawn from sale due to environmental reasons which has left green keepers with a significant problem. Our governing body, The British Institute of Golfing Greenkeepers have produced a poster explaining the problems this can cause which is up in the clubhouse outside the pro shop to inform golfers across the country of this issue. We will be trialling new alternatives next year to help combat the problem. The 6th carry drain is now nearly complete with the last pipe going in last week. With a few finishing touches it should be completed soon. That should ensure there is no flow across the 6th in times of heavy rainfall. The majority of the cable trench has also now been backfilled and seeded. Mats, post and rope will continue to be put out leading into the winter months to protect the course from traffic wear and tear. The prolonged rain in September has meant we are going into winter fairly wet so we respectfully ask that members adhere to the signs and rope placed around the course guiding golfers to minimise unnecessary mess. This will help keep the course in better condition through the winter. Leaves have also started to fall which is another thankless task, we do our best to keep the greens and tees free from debris by blowing them every morning before play. We have made a small adjustment to the stream behind the 15th green to redirect the flow away from the 15th greenside bank. This will hopefully slow the erosion until we get a chance to address it. In team news we have a new starter joining us whose main role will be to maintain our machinery fleet. We have a relatively small fleet of machinery however it is one of the biggest assets the greenkeeping department has so keeping it maintained and in working order is of great importance. We are also glad to have Rob back out with us on the course from his spell behind the bar. Looking ahead we are planning to finally finish the 18th fairway bunker this month and after that re address some of the bunkers which have been holding water again. The winter program is being put together to ensure we keep making improvements whatever the weather…. That’s all for this month, hope to see you on the course.

Paul Oliver - Golf Course Manager






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