Course Conditions – The dry and relatively mild autumn has now extended well into our winter. With nights starting to get lighter as we move into the later stages of January we have yet to see any real winter weather. As a consequence, our course is presenting unusual dilemmas for the green staff and no doubt for many golfers too. From a green keeping perspective we are investing more time than expected in course maintenance with grass still growing and a need to cut the greens, the fairways and even the rough. I even mowed my own lawn last week which is a first and perhaps some of you will have done the same.
The dry conditions have allowed us to re-introduce buggies and maintain play from grass through the green both of which are actions we have never done before at this time of year. Additionally, we have also been able to keep bunkers in play and in a better condition for longer this winter as rainfall levels have helped minimise flooding.
Greens - Our greens have been treated for disease and the open holes from the exceptionally late hollow coring have helped maintain air access to roots and drainage when rain has fallen. They will be spiked with solid tines should water begin to sit as we have to adopt more natural defences against disease with the ever reducing availability of chemical solutions. Our task over the later part of winter will be to induce fresh growth into the areas damaged during last years’ drought where sadly our aging irrigation system fails to cover.
18th Pond & Waterfall- The waterfall aka “Finch’s Falls” is now complete save for the turf covering to the side of the bridge which will be laid once the heavy lifting machinery is no longer required in the pond. I believe this change will greatly enhance the appeal as you walk over “Finch’s Bridge” providing a gentle cascade of water into the new plunge pool area.
Work to dredge the pond is also almost complete with the use of a 14-ton digger and two 10 ton dumpers our green staff will have removed well in excess of 1000 tons (maybe 1500 before we finish) of black stinking mud. Anyone who has watched them working on this unpleasant and often bitterly cold task will have seen at first hand their dedication for which I for one am grateful.
Once we allow water to once more return to the pond I am keen to again plant water lilies and add some fish to help present our signature hole in its best light. I am sure the bridge, waterfall, fountain and colour will help take away some of our frustrations when we say good-bye to a ProV1 which just failed to cross the hazard.
8th Hole - As many of you will already be aware some of our golfers when playing the 8th hole have unfortunately been hitting balls over the fence towards the A642 and on occasions putting road users in potential danger. As an immediate step we have previously asked golfers to be mindful of this danger particularly when there is a strong left to right wind and I am grateful for those who have acted accordingly. However, in the longer term we are required to look at alternative solutions rather than risk the hole being closed.
Our intention now is to slightly redesign the hole placing greater risk around the green whilst increase the layup area for those playing it as a two shot hole. Firstly, using the heavy machinery already on site at the 18th hole we are to fill in the first left hand bunker and remove part of the mound to its left taking the fairway wider and over towards the pond. Then secondly as the growing season commences we will fertilise the areas to the side of the metal fence and also to the left of the green beyond the cross ditch and add some gorse to provide visual deterrent. We believe this will alter the general line of play for most golfers over to the left adding greater risk for stronger players who may consider taking on the challenge.
Finally – Although the course remains dry and firm for the time of year we are in the softer months when shots to our greens make sizable pitch marks. These holes create stress on the turf roots making them weaker and are a contributory factor in making our greens more susceptible to disease. I am reminded of a sign I saw earlier this year which I think sums of the frustration of many.
Enjoy your golf