Firstly can I wish our new Captain Mr John Watson a great year and good luck in his drive in on Saturday. Secondly can I express a personal thank you to our departing Captain Mr Dean Mountain who I have seen working tirelessly for the good of us all in both Board Meetings and his numerous day to day tasks undertaken for the club throughout the year. You deserve a rest Dean and perhaps a chance to again play and enjoy your golf.
Course Condition: What a difference a year makes? I have just been looking over my updates from last spring which incudes reference to the course being repeatedly closed, frost, ice and snow on our greens and of course areas of flooding. Do you recall the ladies tee on 13th becoming an island and us using a pump to remove water across the road into the 12th and towards the pond? Or maybe when we had to close holes due to conditions and employed a 9-hole course in carry only conditions with buggy usage a long way from even being considered.
Its all a bit different this year as spring and arguably summer conditions are allowing us to migrate over to playing from grass on Saturday 30th March for our Captains Drive in and we will be using grass tees on all but the Par 3 holes and the 6th tee which is still struggling with limited sunlight access to the surface. Some previous Captains might be a little jealous of the conditions John is likely to “drive in” with particularly those who have had the event postponed or in some cases drove in during snow.
The month of March has seen us undertaking largely late spring and arguably some summer tasks rather then the normal work pumping out bunkers and building paths etc. We have applied fertilizer and lawn sand to tees, greens, surrounds which has kick started the growth across almost all the course.
Vigorous grass growth however brings with it a down side in that we are now cutting tees almost every day, fairways every other day and rough equally as often as we try to develop a thick but consistent playing surface. This in itself has required a shift from planned winter work particularly the paths we would have hoped to make on 5, 6 and 12. I remain optimistic re the 12th but see little chance of use achieving any work on the 5th or 6th holes. Fortunately, the dry weather has not allowed those muddy areas of previous years to develop to the same extent so perhaps the lack of
Overall I would estimate that the course is around 6 weeks ahead of this time last year.
Greens: Greens surfaces have been repeatedly spiked with 12mm tines to a depth of 8 inches assisting drainage and air penetration. All have been treated within fertilizer, lawn sand and an application of preventative disease spray. Sadly, this may be amongst the last occasions when we use such a preventative measure as this is to become unlawful from June 2019. We and others in the industry await developments on a replacement product.
Surfaces have been verti cut which will be done again in the next week to help remove old grass and encourage the new growth and are now being cut at 3.5mm which is not far away from the cut level we would employ during summer and evidence from soil examinations when pin placements are changes is very favourable for root growth.
Areas of damage from last years’ dry summer have been treated with machine and hand solid tinning, a light dressing of root zone and seed applications. Evidence of new growth is already visible and I remain optimistic that those areas will return to the same conditions as the rest of the putting surfaces.
Winter programme: In March the most noticeable change out on the course has been the building of the new path at the side of the 8th tee. This is in use but still requires some finishing touches to the sides before we will regard this as finished. Some work has been undertaken to move the 8th fairway over to the left and the left hand side bunker is now filled. We will be turfing this area in the near future. Other work on the 8th will include the planting of gorse to the right near the metal fence and to the left just over the ditch. Both of which will make the risk / reward decision slightly harder for many and ideally dissuade some from using their driver. This has been necessary to help reduce the risk of balls leaving the course and in some instances reaching the A642. Please consider your shot selection and if in doubt think of the danger an errant ball might bring to our neighbours.
Much of April will be focused on grass cutting if the weather remains favourable. We will however look to include some additional work from the planned winter schedule if conditions permit. The fountain is due to be returned on Tuesday 2nd April and we will try and install immediately that day. This will include a full working light system which many members will not have experienced previously.
Finally: - Can I draw your attention to the new NGC Green Keepers twitter page? If you are a twitter user this can be found @NGC_GreenStaff or if you are not a twitter user by visiting the members page on our web site which has a link to the twitter page. Here you will find regular updates from the Green Staff on work being undertaken and interesting features about their day.
Enjoy your golf