Limited rainfall has kept our surfaces reasonably dry allowing work and play to continue but the cold spell over the last week has certainly turned the season towards winter and had a real effect on turning the last few leaves.
With that; leaves have been at the forefront of our team’s mind over the last few weeks and as I write this we are seeing the climax of leaf-fall which means that the back is broken for this autumn. The last trees to leaf-fall are generally oaks and every year one particular tree adjacent to the third green hangs on longer than all the others! Collecting leaves has become more and more mechanical over the years with tractor mounted blowers and high capacity sweepers giving a much more efficient rate of collection when conditions are drier.
Once again we have been grazing long rough and wildflower areas in this post summer season and the last two weeks a larger flock of roughly 400 livestock have been on site. The breed we are using this season is a different breed to previous grazing operations which has allowed us to graze more aggressively and therefore move the sheep around the course more quickly. Added to this, they are less fussy eaters and have been grazing back plants that we would normally need to treat additionally.
Grazing has been having fantastic effects on the thinning of these areas which is bringing huge benefits to ball finding and speed of play from a golf perspective but equally so has been allowing thin grass species and wild flower populations to become more competitive in these areas that were once dominated by course, heavy grasses bringing increases in biodiversity particularly for insects.
Expansion of the eighth tee has been progressing well and by print turfing of the surface should be complete. Increasing the teeing surface has given us a usable area for white, yellow and purple tee marker placement of more than double the area previously available on this tee. Increasing the teeing area will greatly reduce wear and tear on the surface plus allow us to influence playability of the hole by shifting the markers to the right and reducing the impact of the left hand bunker on daily, forward play. A great effort from the team who have been working on this project.
Finally, greens management through winter takes a very different approach to rest of the year. Our focus from now until soil temperatures begin to move back towards double digit figures if managing disease through sensible use of trace element fertilsers and doing the best we can to keep the leaf dry. On a daily basis we will remove the dew from the green surfaces, either through hand brushing, rolling or mowing. The point is to shorten the period that the grass leaf is wet because the less time there is moisture on the leaf surface the less opportunity there is for fungal spores to spread and possibly initiate disease.