Welcome to 2019! From all in the greenkeeping team we hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year and are now ready to expect the unexpected regarding the great British weather.
As you are all most probably aware there has been lots of change in the Greenkeeping team this past 6 months and we are now finally up to 5 members of staff. Along with myself and Alan, who has been present for almost a year now, we have welcomed back Simon to the team. Simon has returned with all his knowledge and knowhow and once again helping the course move forward. We have also welcomed two brand new recruits to the Greenkeeping world, not just our little team. Jamie Chapman has joined us from the Kings School and Ryan Thomson has joined from Kings Lynn Council, both are looking forward to a brand-new challenge, along with learning a whole new skill set.
This year the leaves on the course seemed to be a lot more than ever in the vast amount that came down which provided a challenge in itself; not to mention trying to keep on top of the cutting and maintenance of the course. Our job was made a lot easier by the acquisition of the Trilo SG400 leaf collector; and what a piece of kit this is. The ease of use was unbelievable to us all and how effective it was at not only collecting leaves but, dead grass clippings and the clearing of ditches. We did however experience some problems and a few times the Trilo did succumb to the workshop. If it wasn’t a wheel falling off it was the PTO shaft breaking more than once. This caused us to get behind a little on the collection front meaning we were forced to just mulch up the leaves, which isn’t ideal when you can’t find your ball! So, with that in mind, I’d like to apologise for the inconvenience we might have caused to your round and thank you for being patient with us.
Winter projects were put on hold due to being understaffed, but now that’s been sorted we can crack on. You may have seen we have re-turfed the top of bunkers where the sand and sun had killed the grass away. This sounds like an easy job to do but, as you might imagine, it came with its hurdles. This was down to how much sand was sat on top of the area resulting in us having to dig down further than we imagined to ensure all the sand was out before back filling the hole with fresh new soil to which we could the turf on top. All these areas are GUR so if they could always be avoided to give the turf the best chance that would help us out massively.
The weather this winter is something I’m sure not many of us have seen before, if we can even call it winter?! The mild temperatures are good for us but not so good for the greens. The mixture of mild mornings and damp dewy conditions are wonderful for fusarium and that’s what it thrives on. We have got on top of it now as you will have seen the scarring on the greens, but whilst the grass is still growing (even from Dec-Jan) these will grow out. Once we have sprayed it is vital that we leave the leaf for at least 24 hours to make sure that enough contact is made for the chemical to run its course. On the drier days we get we are also still verti-cutting the greens to stand the leaf up which helps to get a cleaner cut and truer roll of the ball.
The irrigation system has been successfully turned off again and has had no problems whatsoever. It is due to be rebooted at the beginning of March which is when we will be able to continue filling the reservoir in preparation for another scorching summer.
The drainage of the course this year has been aided by the shockwave work we did late October preventing the standing water on the fairways. The shockwave is a slitting machine that sends a blade down into the ground and opens up the soil allowing more oxygen to get through the surface, preventing the build-up of water. This machine has meant that there have been very few days of trolley bans; which has made a huge difference to the numbers we have seen on the course as of late. In the coming weeks we will be doing more drainage work and flushing out the pipes on the course to once again improve the quality of course.
Those of you who play off the white markers will have noticed how dry and bare the 13th got towards the end of summer. To try and counter this this year we are planning to strip the tee, re-soil and re-turf the whole tee with a higher quality material to give it the best chance to flourish in the summer months. This will all be completed in-house with a hired digger. Whilst we have the digger we will be once again clearing out the ditch near the 5th tee where the water flows from the 10th to remove the leaves that have become stagnant, along with clearing the copse to the left of the 7th tee.
In previous years we have done lots of tree work throughout the winter months, this year however we are not planning anything major. The only trees that are coming out are; 13th Green, there is a dead pine tree; 2nd pathway, a goat moth and wasp nest has caused the tree to rot down the base so before it falls we need to take it out; RHS 18th fairway there is also a dead tree; between 12th Green and 13th tee a large tree, which unfortunately has a large split down its trunk. You may have also noticed the French Oak by the 8th green we trimmed round, we are also planning on doing this to the conifers on the RHS 18 and the French Oak behind the 7th green. These have all been marked with red spots.
There are two new drop zones you need to be aware of as well that we have put in with the assistance of Matthew and Alan Todd. The first of which is just in front of the 18th tee. This is to be used playing toward the 17th green when your ball ends up underneath the netting. The second is behind the 9th tee for the wayward tee shot off the 5th.
The final thing to mention is the posts and roped areas. It may seem obvious, but these are there for a reason not just to annoy you all. These are notoriously wet areas and end up looking dreadful the more foot traffic they get, so please respect why we have put them out and make a conscious effort to keep your trollies out of them.
Thanks for your continued support, co-operation and patience.
Deputy Head Greenkeeper