Greens Director update – 12th January 2018

Course Update
Weather since my last update has been around normal for the time of year.  Lots of damp cold days when both working or playing the course tests everyone’s patience and sadly on occasions we have had to close the course.  This is not a decision taken lightly by anyone involved and unfortunately is invariably a decision which some will agree with whilst others will not.  I for example am often questioned by some as to why we are open when others bemoan that we are closed.
To clarify the position, we seek to make a decision as early as possible thereby preventing disappointment when members have travelled to the course only to find a late notification of closure.  Green staff check the course often before 6am and in particular look at the known wet spots such as the puddle we get on the corner of the 9th fairway along with bunkers and greens for standing water or ice.  This is then considered together with the best available weather forecast and only when they are satisfied that the course is safe for golfers to play and that unnecessary damage is not likely to be caused will they open the course for play; with or without additional constraints such as bunkers out of play, fairway mats, carry only etc.
Making these decisions whichever way they fall will not please everyone. After all golf is a sport and as with all sports there is an element of individual’s opinion to be considered. Please be assured that those making these decisions do so with the best interests of us all as members when doing so.

Ongoing and future scheduled work

We are slightly behind on our overall winter program of work as a result of some difficult weather days however I remain optimistic that we will make up that time and complete the bulk of our planned development work to the course before the onset of spring when the bulk of our attention will once again return to grass cutting.
By way of an update since the last report:

  • The path on the 4th is complete as is the extension and levelling of the 4th tee which will provide us with an additional 100 square meters of teeing area. Feedback received thus far seems favourable with many stating the pathway gives the hole additional definition as well as helping to prevent the extensive muddy areas we previously developed around the green. We await delivery of turf for the left hand green side bunker which could not be cut during the recent heavy frost days but once in hand this will be which laid around the new shape bunker lip and we will then re fill with sand to complete the bunker. This will be a more shallow bunker and hopefully will not suffer from the regular subsidence which the old steep faced bunker developed.
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  • Tree thinning has begun between on the 1st and 18th which will allow the trees that remain to grown to their full potential and hopefully allow a better coverage of grass around the base.  This is a program of work which will take several years to complete throughout the course.  After an inspection from a specialist firm we were advised of the need to cut back up to 8,000 of our smaller trees.  I believe the thinning last year along the 15th shows just how affective this work can be allowing the trees to define the hole shape whilst also allowing those that remain to grow to their full size.
  • The path on the 7th has begun including leveling of the approach to the tee which will hopefully stop the puddle we had to jump over on occasions to reach the tee and a walkway has been built some 100 yards towards the fairway.
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  • All pathways, including the 2nd, will be rolled once we end the program and an application of crushed red tile is to be applied
  • The fairway and greenside bunkers on the 6th are on hold temporarily. This is due to the wet conditions which have prevented heavy machinery reaching those areas.  However in the upcoming weeks new drainage will be installed to each bunker and the fairway bunker will have it’s re shape complete becoming more of a “pot” bunker which I suspect will be harder to play from should we be unfortunate to find ourselves in it.
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In addition to the developmental winter work our green staff have also been undertaking the normal winter maintenance of our course and equipment.  Tasks undertaken include the regular spiking of our greens to help aid drainage and to allow air / frost to penetrate deeper into the sub soil.  This is a lengthy task and I for one was surprised to discover that each of our greens will have had in the region of 125,000 individual spike holes drilled into the surface. I can only imaging how much standing water we might have without those drainage holes.

Our greens have developed some moss over recent weeks which is normal for the time of year particularly when damp conditions prevail.  This becomes more noticeable when the grass turns pale after frost which highlights the mossy areas.  Treatment is in hand which will be undertaken in the near future.  Unfortunately, however the manufacturers recommendations for the moss treatment suggest this be applied in milder weather so we will have to wait until mother nature supports us in this goal.

How can you help?

Out on the course regrettably there are always examples of members who do not follow the guidance of ropes and white lines. These are put in place to help protect the vulnerable areas around greens and tees where damage from trollies in particular takes considerable time to repair.  Trollies compact the soil which creates muddy areas in winter which fast become hard compact areas in spring in which it is more difficult to create consistent grass growth and coverage.   I know from experience which type of grass coverage I would rather chip from come summer which is why we particularly ask that members keep their trollies 10 meters away from our greens. 
I ask if you see anyone not following these guidelines that you gently remind them of the benefits which compliance brings for us all during the “real golf season”

As part of the program of tree thinning we have burnt many of the tree branches cut down in situ however we have also left some logs at the rear of the club car park.  Please feel free to take these if you have use for them. I am advised that ideally they should be dried for some months before burning however that decision if for yourselves not me.

Many thanks for your patience and support.

Andy Booth
Greens Director