Strange and troubling times as April ends. My thoughts are with everyone who has been affected through this crisis either socially or medically and, like most, I long for a return to the routines and activities that we normally take for granted.
Spring is the time of year that we see the most significant and rapid change on the land and as temperatures have been rising and day length extending we are seeing very strong growth and recovery to areas that were under significant stress during our record winter wet spell.
Our total rainfall from September to March was roughly 700mm. This figure combined with short day length, low temperatures, and consequent low evaporation rates, leads to a groundwater surplus and challenging ground conditions for the entire autumn and winter. Since the middle of March, we have seen an exceptionally dry period leading to quite heavy irrigation demand in recent days.
Our programme of course maintenance through the last month has been focused on key, essential tasks to promote turf health, in line with regulations set out by the central government and following recommendations published by the governing bodies of greenkeeping and golf, BIGGA, R&A, PGA and England Golf.
Our aim is to ensure that when we have an opportunity to open the course, we are able to tighten things down with mowing and have the course ready for you to play with good turf quality.
In order to achieve this, we have a very small team of greenkeepers working full time primarily focusing on mowing fine turf areas, greens, approaches, tees, fairways and semi-rough. Cut rough areas have been cut only where necessary where growth is strong with some areas, particularly up on the sandy soils of 13, having not been mown yet.
Additionally, there is a need to maintain adequate fertility so we have been feeding and supplementing these areas in line with achieving our goal of promotion of turf health and to ensure that we are not behind our schedule to achieve high-quality surfaces.
Our maintenance of bunkers and hazards has ceased through this time and barring the odd bit of deer trampling, bunkers are in quite good condition.
It is wonderful to see more and more wildlife across the course; we have seen a wider range of birds on site, roe deer are moving out of the woods more often and the fallow deer are generally very accepting of our movements around the course.
It is very strange being on the course daily without any of you here and even more so not seeing our whole team of greenkeepers here every day. Funnily though, some old habits remain, as all of us have joked that we are still checking over our shoulders for golf playing through, as we mow or drive around the course!
I’m looking forward to the weeks ahead and getting back to see all the familiar faces.
Best to all,