Weather update...As our winter season runs on and we head towards the shortest daylight hours of the year we have been subjected to some persistent wet weather systems moving consecutively over the country...

Most notably through the midlands where we have seen extensive flooding. Although temperatures have not been low so far with only two significant frosts, rainfall has been well above average for the fifth consecutive month culminating in September and October:

  • September 100mm
  • October 148mm
  • November 80mm (as at 25 November)

 

Winter ground conditions

Clearly the work undertaken over the last two summers has made a strong contribution to improving the ground conditions during periods of wet weather. Two clear examples are the driving range which historically has been closed for extended periods through the winter season due to both balls plugging and vehicles leaving significant tyre damage. The twelfth carry is the other prime example of how soil flocculation, topdressing and aeration improve water infiltration following rainfall and reduce the water being held at the surface predominately by accumulated organic matter.

These current conditions give us an ideal opportunity to identify areas that suffer from traffic through wet periods and plan treatment and management to be implemented in the coming season. We do this by simply marking up an aerial image for referencing back to when the work is due.

Course work

Leaf clearing and collection has been high priority over the last few weeks. Focus is always on the clubhouse and carpark area where the most trees stand but as the period of leaf-fall draws to an end our strategy is to work through each hole on the course and clear the hole to completion.

Heights of cut on all fine turf are now set at winter heights, greens being 6mm and approaches and tees at 12mm.

Turf nursery

Following years of turf stripping, back filling and a subsequent decline in the quality of turf available for us to work with we decided that a full renovation was in order to restore our turf nursery resource.

Given the 5000 square meter size of the nursery we undertook agricultural ploughing and harrowing to prepare the area and integrate organic matter including old turf and applied leaf compost into the soil.

Turf nursery cont...

Once this soil prep work was complete, we seeded the area with 140 kg of ryegrass/fescue seed mixture before dragging to integrate the seed. The final step in the process was rolling the surface with a heavy roller to consolidate the entire nursery and aid seedling establishment once germination had occurred.

Germination was evident after about one week and from this point on we have been regularly mowing plus applying simple fertilisers to grow the surface on, thickening it up and in possibly the only situation where this is required, encouraging the formation of a thatch layer to help with turf structure. The photo below shows the area at about twenty-two weeks after sowing.

The turf from this nursery is used for repair work to tees, approaches and fairways but most importantly it is our main source of material for bunker construction over the winter season.

Tee improvements

Last month I covered the sixth tee improvements that will allow us to have more teeing surface within ten yards forward of the yellow post, expanding a tee like this will allow a larger teeing surface for use within the measured length of the yellow course.

Tee improvements cont...

Work has commenced on the second white tee box which has been in desperate need of leveling after years of divotting. Naturally play from tees tends to be from the middle rather than the edges so as the years tick by the effect of divotting lead to an accumulation of soil/divot mix through the middle of the teeing surface, thus the tee becomes domed. The team will strip the turf for use elsewhere on the golf course, in this case bunker edge construction. Once the turf is stripped the bare soil will be leveled, the banks landscaped to match the surrounding lie of the land and finally re-turfed, leaving us with a level tee surface. Tee reset!

Etiquette

News from the Pro shop…Ryan has published a short film about pitch marks, their impact on play and ultimately how you, the golfer, should be repairing pitch marks. It is, after all, the golfer’s responsibility to look after your greens as you play, and unrepaired pitch marks will end up affecting your game and may even cost you the odd putt! Have a look on Ryan’s Instagram @rjdgolf.

Bunker maintenance is the single largest consumer of the greenkeeping team’s time throughout the year, like pitch mark repairs it is the golfer’s responsibility to make good disruption to the bunker following play from the hazard. There is nothing like playing a bunker shot from deep inside a footprint. We have made substantial investments in providing high quality bunker rakes for this use, they provide a fantastic surface when you push them!

That’s all for this month, happy winter golfing and enjoy the crisp, clear days when they arrive!

Best always

Jaey Goodchild

Head Greenkeeper