Weather in late September and October has been good for the course. The extended dry period, low water table and above seasonal average temperatures have maintained growth across the course. This is most evident on our greens where speed has remained excellent throughout this period invariable above 10 and often above 11 on the stimp meter.
Work to prepare the greens for winter commenced in the second week of October with solid tinning to aide drainage and air access to the roots which will continue throughout the winter on a weekly basis. The application of fertilizer and fungicide together with the raising of the cut to 4mm will also aid the greens health. This cut level will be taken higher once we encounter colder weather and in particular frost where the surface suffers additional stress.
The above sight of spiking and then cutting taking place will be something many of your mid-week golfers will see but perhaps not those who, play on a weekend.
Hollow tinned of the greens took place at the start of November with the holes being left open rather than top dressed. Ordinarily the holes would be top dressed if undertaken in August however this year the sub-surfaces were too hard as a result of the log dry summer and the work had to be delayed until November. Top dressing at this time of the year would encourage disease into the surface as the moisture held between the top dressing and grass would be ideal for the germination of fusarium which we are unable to control during winter since contact fungicides were removed from sale.
The practice green adjacent to the Pro Shop has been cut to 4mm, hollow cored, fertilized and received an application of soil conditioner. All should impact upon the root growth which appears to be the major cause of the turf deteriorating during summer. If growth progresses holes will be cut, and flags provided for practice allowing the resting of the chipping green adjacent to the practice nets.
Elsewhere on the course we are still grass cutting most of the playing areas and in particular the wooded sections where rough cutting is being used to help address the leaf coverage.
Key work to be undertaken during the next month includes:
A schedule of work for the winter has been approved and, in some instances, already commenced as shown above. Other work to build paths on the 5th, 6th and 8th are planned and will be undertaken where weather permits. Should we have a significantly wet winter then the focus will move towards tree removal particularly to areas such as the right of 18 and left of 9 where we can gain access largely via roads or bridle paths rather than across fairways.
The Greens Committee continue to have concerns re wear and tear around greens and the impact on aprons and close chipping areas. Footfall in these areas is inevitable but the additional weight of trollies and in some instances, buggies, impacts on soil compaction and root growth. Without healthy root growth we will always struggle to have good aprons and I ask that when using a trolley, you please stay 10 yards from all putting surfaces.
A pressing concern at he moment is our 8th hole where golfers are unfortunately hitting balls onto the A642. The danger leaving our course is our responsibility and we must take steps to reduce this risk. Towards that goal we are looking to slightly re shape the 8th fairway across to the pond placing greater hazard through rough adjacent to the fence and to the left of the green. In this way we would hope more golfers will play it as a two-shot hole seeing the risk of a drive outweighed by the risk of loosing a ball.
Looking to future years we are aware of the need to address the demands of our signature 18th hole where the slope of the green requires significant work to offer greater pin position options and the removal of silt from the pond to enhance the visual element of the hole. At this time specific funding is not available for these projects which will be factored into winter plans in the upcoming years.
Finally: - I am aware that although much of the feedback from the Green Keepers Revenge competition was favorable with many members expressed their enjoyment at the once a year pin positions, I am aware that not everyone agreed with the course set up. From this feedback I propose to host the Green Keepers Revenge weekend next years with a set up marginally more playable yet still seeking to use our more challenging pin positions.
Enjoy your golf