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
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
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