Course Manager Blog – March 2022
Looking back at the first 2 months of 2022, January was very kind to us weather wise. We received less than an inch of rainfall which allowed us to be able use our larger mowers on the course and provide some well needed presentation.
February was quite the opposite with just under 3 inches of rain falling in the month with 3 of the worst storms in many years. We had no choice but to close the course for safety reasons when Dudley, Eunice and Franklin hit. With winds in excess of 70mph, unfortunately we lost numerous trees across the course.
The clean-up process began straight away, we used Arborfield Tree Care to clear the larger fallen Pine trees on the 1st and 9th. The greenkeeping team have cleared up many of the smaller trees and hanging limbs with some work still to do. The remaining fallen trees will be cleared soon by Arborfield Tree Care.
I am pleased with how our fairways have come through the worst of the winter months, coverage is reasonable and gives us a good starting point for our spring start up, rake, fertiliser application, iron, and growth regulator. We will also drop to our summer height of cut when conditions turn consistent.
We have seen good results from our soli conditioners, this has improved the worm cast issue, it is not as good as times before (efficacy of product), but with a combination of these products, careful mowing patterns and carry only at times have all helped – especially during periods of heavy rainfall.
I am pleased to report we see the return of Lee Davies, our Deputy Course Manager this month following his lengthy lay off and recovery (September 2021) following his broken femur and hip – welcome back Lee.
Our in-house projects are progressing well, the fairway bunkers on the 11th are ready for turf, we have recently moved to the 16th fairway bunkers. Sand from these bunkers has been removed and have we have begun the installation of the ecobunker faces.
We will also be preparing bunkers on the 4th, 8th and 12th for the installation of our rubber base (Blinder), once the sand is removed from these bunkers we will check and clean the drains before the liner is applied. Our contractors, Profusion will be on site (no date set yet) to complete this work.
Profusion will also be building 3 new lifetime tees (3rd, 16th & 18th) and will be installing a rubber crumb walk off pathway from the back left of the 15th Green.
All renovated bunkers will have China Clay installed.
11th Fairway Bunker (LHS)
The team have begun canopy lifting the tree plantations across the course. The plantations between the 3rd carry and 5th fairway have been completed.
The benefits of this process are both visual and playability. And as a result, there will be additional light and airflow to the area under the trees which will improve (we hope) grass coverage within the plantation, the clean tree trunks will allow balls to be found quicker and easier. We plan to cover the whole course during early spring.
During the 3rd week of February, we pencil tined the greens to a depth of 5 inches with 8mm solid tines. This process was followed by a fresh hole and a roll. Green performed very well following this work. Green speeds were approximately 10ft on the stimp meter which is fantastic not just for this time of year but any time of year.
Greens condition for the winter has been fantastic on the whole with the only frustration being the time when we received heavy downpours, not allowing us to get on the greens for a period after – it’s important to note that we do not push greens when conditions are not favourable due to the longer-term damage this will cause.
We applied a granular feed a week after our aeration, this fertiliser contained a small amount of iron. This was applied to maintain green health in the lead up to our pre maintenance week feed.
We have had just completed a very successful greens maintenance week, which included a micro hollow core, followed by a heavy top dress of straight sand (Mansfield 35).
We then verti drain with ¾ inch solid tines and brushed the sand into the holes. This was followed by our smaller aeration machine, the Procore. This will pencil tine the greens and further brush surface sand.
To complete the process, another sand application to the greens that require an application, brush, and blow to remove any excess sand, a roll and new flag position ready for re-opening the greens. We will incorporate between 50 & 60 tonnes of sand into the profile of the greens.
This week we will applying a granular feed to aid in the recovery.
David Hunt our Mechanic/Greenkeeper has moved on to pastures new as of the 16th of March. Dave has been with us since October 2016 and has proved to be a valuable member of the team both on the course and keeping the fleet of machinery in tip top condition all year round. We wish Dave the best of luck in his new venture.
We are currently looking for a replacement mechanic to fill this role, if you know a qualified mechanic that likes golf, this could be the ideal role for them. Please let them know we looking to fill this position. Feel free to contact myself or Matt Short should you have any questions relating to this role.
The remainder of the month will be spent finishing our winter projects and to begin dialling in the course for summer with plenty of preparation taking place for making the golf course shine.
As we move closer to the start of the season, we will be topping up paths, priming our irrigation system and checking that all the sprinkler heads are operating to their optimum.
We will be dropping heights of cut across the course and will start putting our striping (diamonds) in on the tees and fairways. We will also be applying a controlled-release fertiliser to all of the tees, approaches and greens surrounds.
This month’s staff profile comes from Ryan George our trainee greenkeeper;
Name – Ryan George
Started – September 2021
Hobbies – Going to the gym, travelling, photography and spending way too much on trainers/clothes.
Favourite task – Using my creativity, whether that be learning and installing the ‘Ecobunker’ bunker faces or mowing the perfect stripes across the greens. These fine elements of creative detail bring me the most satisfaction at work. Also, with my photography background, I enjoy the ability to photograph stunning sunrises due to our early start times.
Spring feels like it is in the air (on occasions), the patio furniture is back, and it is exciting to see the shrubs and trees starting to give us a hint that summer is on its way with longer days and more golf to be played.
Many thanks again for all your support and see you out on the course.
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Enjoy your golf.
Stuart Job Course Manager