Head Greenkeepers Update: Winter 17/18

Dear Member

I thought it would be appropriate in this my first web site blog to share with you some of the trials, tribulations and positive developments that have played out over the course of the last year.

I would like to start by thanking you the members and the club's directors for last year’s major investment in the new greens depot and maintenance facilities. We are now settled into them (well almost) and the benefits of having purpose built, modernised maintenance and welfare facilities were immediate and continue to be felt and appreciated.

This winter

2017 and the spring 2018 have been extremely difficult and disruptive for us all. However, I hope you will recognise and appreciate that a number of “uncontrollable” factors have been behind the majority of these difficulties. My team, supported by the greens committee, have tried our best to minimise the impact on your access to winter golf and your enjoyment. That has not been easy and very frustrating for all concerned.

The most obvious and persistent factor has been the weather or more specifically the rainfall we have had. This has been extreme and unprecedented over the last 6 months.

Interestingly, I know the exact point at which it started; Thursday 20th July. From that point onwards, we have had a miserable and depressing run of bad weather. It came at a very frustrating time for myself and my team. Following the completion of the new depot, we were looking forward to making up for lost time on the greens and the rest of the course. All we needed was some decent weather!

I have been here a number of years now and have built a sound knowledge of this course and how it behaves. It is with this knowledge and the club's calendar, that I plan when certain operations and projects can be carried out. With autumn arriving in mid-July  those plans were disrupted somewhat.

This constant damp conditions prevented us from harvesting the long grass areas early and applying graminicide at the correct time. The long grass areas have been reviewed and will be reduced for next season.

We also lost our autumn maintenance week this year due to the poor weather. We simply were not in a position to get materials to the greens without causing unacceptable damage. It is my intention, however, to hit the greens very soon to try to catch up on this vital maintenance regime.

The saturation level of the course at regular points this winter has been worse than any of my staff can remember. Unfortunately, due to these conditions, we were not able to carry out a number of the course improvement projects that we had planned. We have to consider and balance between the benefit brought and the damage created with every project. The most recent victim of this has been the postponement of the drainage improvement works to the bottom land.

On a more positive note, our inability to carry out some of the major projects has freed up time to focus on other important areas. I have a very long list of Jobs and course improvements, so there’s always progress to be made somewhere.

You may have noticed that two new trackways and access points have been installed around the course. These are predominately service tracks to enable machines and materials to get to and around the course without damage to the playing surfaces and ensuring the safety of the operators. These tracks will also assist in reducing the disruption to our future winter plans and project work..

I have also given priority this winter to investigating and rectifying localised drainage problems. The issues we have discovered are far too varied in number to list but believe me I’ve seen it all. These areas will now function effectively for many years to come and each one will have a positive knock-on effect across the localised areas. I expect this to be a continuous, running theme over the next few years.

In accordance with the course improvement plan, course protection has again been a priority this winter with positive results. As things stands, I’m pretty happy with where we are, considering the winter we have had. Thank you all for adhering to the winter protection measures. I am hoping next year that the club will also introduce a policy of trolley “winter wheels” being compulsory.

With a little luck spring will soon be here with its warmth and sunny days. I am confident that the physical scars of this winter will soon disappear and we shall have “our” course restored to good order for you the members to enjoy. Let us hope for a long and sunny season!!

Thank you once again from myself and the greens team.

Matt Dobbs