Course Manager Blog – March 2023
To maintain tradition of my blog I shall start with a short recap of the weather since December.
With an extremely wet end to 2022 (230mm (9 inches) in November & December) and with 106mm (4 inches) of rain in the first 16 days of January, it was a particularly difficult time for us on the course, which meant that some unfortunate restrictions had to be enforced – this is a last resort, but we must protect the course when it is necessary.
We thank you very much for your patience and thank you the many members who carried even when this restriction wasn’t in place, it really does make a big difference.
From mid-January we then had one of the driest winter spells on record, only 7mm of rain fell from the 17th of January until the 8th of March. We were even able to remove some of our traffic control.
The main upside to this was great golfing weather and from our point of view we had the ability to use our larger mowers on the course enabling us to present playing surfaces to a nice winter standard – we were even able to allow golf buggies for quite some time, which was great.
As I finalise this blog, we have just received 2 inches of snow (only lasting 12 hours), unfortunately this was followed by over an inch of rain. Seasons continue to be increasingly difficult to predict!!
Below are some nice winter shots of the 18th fairway and 16th tee.
In House Projects
The team have continued with repairing and re-turfing bunker tops in the last few weeks, these are the bunker that suffered during the heatwave last year.
This process involves stripping the existing turf, re-grading the area and re-turfing with a Rye/Fescue blend of turf.
We have completed bunkers on holes 14 & 16 with numerous bunkers prepped and ready for turf on the front 9, these bunkers are marked as GUR.
To combat the loss of turf during the drier months we plan to apply a surfactant/wetting agent to all bunker edges fortnightly using a knapsack sprayer – we hope that this process will help maintain the edges from perishing.
As a reminder wetting agents aid moisture retention and helps the soil by removing surface tension which inhibits the soil form using what water is available.
Outside the clubhouse and along the footpath, to the driving range, we are in the process of improving this area, all shrubs and dead scrub have been removed, and is being regraded ready for turf.
The whole area will be turfed with 100% Fescue and will be left to grow as other areas of the back 9 blending in to the long rough to the rear of the 18th green under the trees by the Halfway House.
This will frame the 18th green complex nicely and improve the vista across the course from the patio and clubhouse entrance.
We will be replacing the sign directly in front of the main entrance clubhouse door – this sign will include a course map and clock; it will also display course status updates for easy viewing as you walk to the 1st tee.
Our mow over tee stones have all been installed and look fantastic. We will trim these regularly as we do with the fairway pop ups. The introduction of these has allowed us to reshape some tees, increase the size providing more teeing ground next to the stones.
Renovation Week (13th March)
Our green renovation week commences this coming Monday – the current forecast is not favourable for this work meaning that we may have to adjust plans accordingly.
Our plan (weather permitting) is to verti drain all greens with a ¾ inch tine to a depth of approximately 8 inches, we will then punch holes with a 10mm tine to a depth of approximately 4 inches.
Our aim is to apply a minimum of 60 tonnes of straight sand and work it into the aeration holes using our sweep-n-fill brush. Once the majority of the sand is worked into the profile, we will complete the process with a roll (or 3) to aid the return of surface smoothness.
We vary the depth and size of aeration holes target various areas of the soil profile, relieving profile compaction and panning.
Deeper holes aid drainage, and shallow holes help keep the surfaces firm by diluting organic matter, providing root channels, and also aiding top surface drainage.
After we have completed the entire process, we will apply a granular fertiliser to aid recovery and give the greens the best possible start to the season.
We thank you for your patience whilst we carry out this essential process.
With the season just around the corner (hopefully, we would like to not have a repeat of last year’s cold Spring) we will be fine tuning our nutritional inputs on all playing surfaces and have spent the winter ensuring our machinery fleet is fully serviced, sharpened and ready for action.
Our irrigation system was primed last week and has been audited ready for the season – we have a list of issues that have occurred during the winter dormancy and are scheduled for repair.
You will see our irrigation team, PSI Irrigation, on the course on various days in the coming weeks completing these repairs.
A 4 to 5 month-controlled release granular fertiliser has been ordered for all tees, approaches, green surrounds and walkways and will be applied in April – this will really perk the surfaces up after a tough winter. This will shortly be followed by a growth regulator to control growth and thicken the sward. Fairways will be fed using a high quality mix of nutrition and growth regulator, this will be applied as a liquid using our sprayer.
Complete weed control have been booked to spray weeds in our long rough, plantations, sand banks and mounds. They will also apply a total weedkiller around all tree bases and ditch bases.
You will begin to see our patio furniture return from next week as we give them some TLC before bringing them up from storage, a sure sign summer is on its way.
We will complete a tee renovation in the coming weeks, this will include hollow coring, seeding and top dressing.
Our divot evenings are planned for the 3rd and 17th of April. Not only is it a great chance to work closely with members, but it really starts the season on the right foot with all tees and fairways getting a thorough divot.
If you are able to lend a hand, please contact Chris Mackenzie to inform him of your attendance [email protected] – this is to ensure we cook enough food afterwards to say thank you for your help.
We recently employed a new trainee greenkeeper, Cameron. Cameron is 18 years of age and is very keen to learn all aspects of greenkeeping. A confident start by Cameron has meant that he has already learnt aspects of course set up and has even begun to learn how to use a number of the mowing equipment.
We will continue to shadow and mentor Cameron until he is competent with the various daily tasks.
We are in the final stages of interviewing for additional greenkeepers, I will update you in my next blog of our new additions.
Our contractors, Profusion, are due to be on site at the end of March to complete exciting changes to the bunkers on the 3rd and 18th holes.
This is in-line with the clubs 5-year vision. Profusion will liaise with Matt Short and David Jones (architect) to ensure the vision is maintained.
They will also be installing 3 new lifetime tees on the 5th, 9th and 15th holes taking us to 9 Lifetime tees in total – it is fantastic to see members utilising the 6 Lifetime tees on the course.
Whilst Profusion are completing these works, we will have to utilise temporary tees and greens to ensure safe and efficient working. The Golf Operations team will keep you informed of the course adjustments within the daily course updates. As always, we will endeavour to keep disruption to competitions to a minimum.
To finish…..there have been a few hints of Spring with snow drops emerging and the daffodils starting to show, fingers crossed we have a traditional Spring this year – it has felt like a long winter, but spring and summer are just around the corner.
It will not be long until we are putting on suntan lotion and filling our bags up with water. We cannot wait to ‘dial’ the course in for you!!
Keep updated by following our social media pages;
Instagram – smgc_greens
Twitter – @SMGCgreens