Greens Director update – 20th August 2018

Course Update
I believe we have probably had the best summer weather since I joined the club over 20 years ago with repeated forecasts of blue skies, hot temperatures and very, very, little rain.  As a golfer this has been exceptional.  No need for sweaters, waterproof clothing or umbrellas since mid-May.

From a course perspective this has certainly helped us overcome the difficulties of the long winter and exceptionally wet spring as it has become difficult to imagine how wet we were even into May this year.  Greens have recovered and once more have become good to look at, are allowing  smooth rolls on putts and best of all that somewhat frightening 11+ on the stimp meter.  This is fast particularly when compared to this year’s Open at Carnoustie which was played on greens measuring around 10 for much of that week.

Those exceptional dry days however did bring with them some challenges not only for us golfers as we encountered hard and sometimes unfortunate bounces, but also for our green staff.   Keeping greens moist under the surface has been a huge challenge.  Nightly use of the sprinklers and on many occasions watering by hand during the day helped however we still suffered with some unsightly brown patches such as the front of the 11th green.

Ongoing and future scheduled work
As we end the main summer period we have decided not to hollo time in August as we would normally do.  The informed advice and belief of our green staff being that putting holes in our greens at this time may lift large sections of turf as the cores are removed.  Furthermore by either leaving them open to the air or by filling them with dry top dressing will only add to the difficulties in maintaining moisture within the surface and the health of the grass..  It has been decided therefore to book hollo tinning for October when we are certain the ground will not be lifted by the core removal process.  In the interim period we will employ the use of an Air2G2 machine which will force compressed air into the sub soil breaking this up to aide drainage and healthy root growth.  Our plan also includes the use of this machine on some tees where possible to try and develop better root growth on some of our poorer tees.  If this is successful we will look to repeat the process on other tees across the course.

This decision will hopefully will allow us as golfers to enjoy the benefits of good greens a little into the autumn with ideally only minor disruption to the playing surfaces in October when in all likelihood the main golfing events of the season will be over.  We will also be looking to hold a “greenkeepers revenge weekend” immediately after the work hollo tinning has been undertaken so those of you who enjoy a challenge will still have that opportunity.

Out on the course we will also be working on the waterfall from the 18th pond.  At these times, to ensure both the safety of our staff and their need to work uninterrupted from incoming drives, the 18th hole will be played as a Par 3 from the green side of the ditch.  Please be patient with us during this necessary work and hopefully we can complete the task speedily without too much interruption to your golf enjoyment.

Looking to the future we have discussed the future of the willow tree to the front of the 8th tee.  This is an attractive tree which grows at almost 2 foot a year and could reach a height of over 50 feet when fully grown. I am aware from comments received that this already creates some difficulty for golfers particularly when playing from the yellow tees.  Options we could consider in the future include trimming the tree back to a lower height every few years or perhaps removing the tree altogether and strengthening the hole by planting additional vegetation such as gorse in the left hand rough to retain the option of risk and reward or conservative lay up and pitch approach.  If you have any views on this issue, please feel free to drop me a line or leave a note in my tray within the office. Nothing is planned at this time however I appreciate that over time allowing the tree to reach 50 foot would be a major concern to many golfers.

How can you help?
With the return of “normal” summer ground conditions we are once again beginning to see the affects of divots on our fairways.  The exposed root system will return more speedily to a grass covering is either a divot is replaced over the hole and gently pressed home or if the hole is filled with topsoil.  Both approaches keep the roots moist and allow for growth to resume sooner.  I would ask therefor that if you have a trolley or a buggy why not take a divot back and even if you only repair half a dozen holes then that’s half a dozen holes you might not find your ball coming to rest in the next time you play!!

Enjoy the summer conditions whilst they continue.  Make the most of your course, bring a guest to share the experience and have fun playing our fabulous course.

Enjoy your golf

Andy Booth
Greens Director