HEAD GREENKEEPER'S BLOG - FEB '19

General

The first thing that has to be mentioned is how favourable this winter’s weather has been to us compared to that of the last few years! Having said that, over the last few weeks we did have some pretty unpleasant episodes. It was very frustrating but not surprising to get snow cover at this time of year. With up to two inches of snow at times covering all the greens and fairways, it gave me little choice but to close the course during this period.

Works undertaken over recent weeks

Having restricted funds for project work this winter has allowed us to use the time to try and complete long-standing issues on the course which are time-consuming rather than costly. However firstly it was important to complete any construction work or any on-course repairs. These have been completed, but we have been waiting on turf, which had been on order for a number of weeks now, but due to weather and demand it was delayed. Main areas are to be / have been turfed - 8th ladies’ tee, old unused “robbed out” path on 9th, 9th yellow tee, shaping between 9th greenside bunkers and various drought damaged areas

Work within trees

“Why is he messing about in the trees?” Is a question I have heard being asked?

Each site we have been working on has a specific individual reason on its own, but also has the following common reasons:

·         Tidying decades of spoil / waste that has been dumped within these areas

·         Making access easier and reducing man hours needed to control invasive species during the summer months

·         Once work has been completed then can be allowed to return to nature encouraging a greater bio -diversity including blue bells

·         Improving playability and vistas for members and visitors to see our wonderful ancient woodland floors

Drainage

We have done a number of drainage jobs recently. We have installed a central drain into the area between the two tee complexes on the 12th. This will allow this area to drain from the lowest point when the tee is raised. This drain also allows water to be removed from in front of the steps of the winter tee where it has always collected. In addition, this path has been raised to minimise this issue even further.

We have finally been able to return back to the area around the 5th tee. The key drainage problem with the areas of the 4th approach, 5th tee area and the 6th approach, is that we are relying on the water being removed off our property through pipe work we have no control over (even under a house!!).

Work Plans for the next Month

Maintenance will hopefully be being carried out on all tees, greens, collars and approaches in readiness for the start of the season. The work will involve a combination of scarification, solid or hollow-tining (currently planned for w/c 11/03/19 given the weather forecast), over-sowing and top-dressing.

Once the majority of our heavy machinery traffic is finished we are planning to add a covering surface to the worst of our paths. Bunkers, like the main playing areas, will be prepared in readiness for the upcoming season including the addition of sand where it is required.

Responses to the Questionnaire

Thanks to all those that responded to the questionnaire, it really helps us to confirm what the priorities are of our members and a further opportunity to communicate in response. It was very clear that everyone felt very strongly about how great our greens are and conversely, and unsurprisingly, the need to improve bunkers. Below is a summary of the responses agreed at the Greens Committee and we hope you agree/understand,

Overall

There were a few comments supporting the work of the Greenkeeping Team and to better utilise the working party; which we will continue to do. One comment was around the rough being too short, primarily it is to ensure pace of play is maintained (and not hampered by people looking for balls just off the fairway).

Fairways

As many are probably aware, our fairway mower broke down and we needed to decide whether or not to buy a second-hand or an ex-demo mower. The Directors agreed to the purchase of the ex-demo. We placed an order and were then informed that it had been sold, however, they acknowledged that this deal was after we’d ordered it. So they’ve agreed to sell us a brand new fairway mower for the price we’d agreed for the Demo. We are rightly very pleased with this piece of business.

Another comment was about presenting the course at its best – not just for certain competitions e.g. Rose Bowl, President’s etc. We can confirm that EVERY effort is made to present the course as well as we can; however there are cost implications (overtime budget) for Greens staff to do extra preparation on Tuesdays or Fridays for major events.

Greens

As mentioned above, the remarks were extremely positive for the job done on greens and the desire to maintain this. Thanks to one of the respondents who reminded members to REPAIR YOUR PITCHMARKS! This really does help the greens.

Bunkers

Most clubs memberships have issues with their bunkers. Where more sand is needed, this will be done. Prior to that we are looking to using a bunker bully and mantice to ensure the bunkers have been deep raked. Then it can be assessed if more sand is needed. The working party will support greens staff with using the bunker bully / deep raking. However, we do request that members rake ‘properly’ when they’ve played out of the bunker. This requires the raking to be pushed as well as pulled – so that the sand isn’t all pulled to the front of the bunkers. And finally, to ask that rakes are placed in the centre of the bunker.

Paths

The path in front of the clubhouse is still under warranty and we will be requesting the contractors come back and assess areas where it is breaking up. There is an improvement plan for the paths to ensure that areas are better surfaced.

Thanks again for all the responses. We will likely make this an annual questionnaire to help address issues and/or communicate if we are already dealing with them.

PGC