I thought it would be timely to write another of my course updates. I would like to start by taking this opportunity to welcome all our new members that have joined us following the unfortunate closure of Fishwick golf club. I hope you enjoy your new surroundings and soon get integrated in to life at Penwortham GC. As with our existing members, the greens team and I are looking forward to meeting and getting to know you all over the coming months and years.

Some of you will not be aware that following unavoidable shoulder surgery, I have had to take a number of weeks off to allow for recovery. I am pleased to say I am now on the mend and hope to soon be able to carry out normal duties again. In my absence, the remaining members of the greens team, led by my deputy Matt Stone, have done a great  job to maintain the course during this period. With the good fortune of the relatively dry autumn they have managed to clear the course of the bulk of the leaves with very little mess.

This period of my absence unfortunately coincided with the annual high-pressure period for turf diseases. In previous years this wouldn’t have been a major problem. However, this year we have seen the removal of a number of essential chemical products from the greenkeeper’s arsenal. The most significant of those, with regard to disease control, was products containing the active ingredient “Iprodione”. This was the last “contact” fungicide left available. (Contact ­­- meaning that it kills diseases through direct contact rather than from resistance within the grass plant).

 With this now being removed from use, greenkeepers will have to use what is called a “preventative” programme. In other words, if you visually identify a disease, it’s already too late!! This method of disease management now seems to require us to repeatedly spray a greater number of fungicides (just in case). To me, this seems somewhat counterproductive for the environment and at a huge expense in both time and finance. However, unfortunately that is the legal situation from now on and we have to clearly work within the law. With prevention in mind and before I left for my operation, I applied products that I hoped would see us through to my return.

However, with the team short-handed and being busy with other duties, we missed early indications of a possible disease outbreak. With episodes of unseasonably warm weather over the last month (especially at night) the disease has flared up quickly. On my return it was obvious that we have now been hit badly by a disease called “fusarium patch” on most collars and greens.

This seems to have originated in the areas that suffered the most from drought (collars) and were, therefore, the most stressed during the summer. This then has spread into the greens. This is very frustrating and disappointing. Please be assured that we are doing everything possible to limit and repair the damage. With growth slowing down, recovery will be a long process, so please be patient.

 I have put a document up on the notice boards in the clubhouse published by BIGGA entitled “How the removal of chemicals will alter the way your course looks” for member’s information. There is a section towards the back of the document that specifically talks about the removal of “Iprodione”

I will finish this blog on a happier note however. This is regarding last year’s alterations to the drainage on the bottom land. As most of you will remember, we built a chamber, which now houses the non-return valves that are retrofitted to the existing drainage system. These valves now prevent river water from continually flowing back into our drains at every high tide. I’m confident that it was a consequence of this continuous subterranean flooding that caused the bottom land to be closed so much in the past.  The effects of last year’s work are now becoming apparent. The ground, until recently, has been able to remain dry and so able to take any rain water more readily than if the ground was pre-saturated.  Despite some recent heavy rain, there has been a noticeable reduction in surface puddling and when saturation does occur, it soon disappears. This will enable us to have a longer and less weather disrupted season with 18 holes available for play!!

We are also about to have another non-return valve fitted by the bridge adjacent to the 14th tee, thus preventing tidal water backfilling the ditch system.

Work around the course will be kept to a minimum this year and so will the disturbance. Our focus will remain on finishing little jobs and tidying areas around the course for the up and coming season.

We are definitely into the wet weather now, so please do everything you can to protect the course for everyone. This can be simple to do, repair pitch marks, follow signs and if you must use a trolley, please avoid the softest areas.

I will finish with a little thank you to all clubs dignitaries, members and all the staff for all their efforts this year. I hope you all have a great December, Christmas and New Year


Matt Dobbs

Course Manager