With the daylight change and the cooler weather setting in, November arrived, and we once again switched to a 10th tee start.
There are multiple reasons why we do this at this time of year, the main reason is the front 9 is quite demanding on labour to set up for the days play, holes 1 to 4 are more heavily tree lined and require a lot of leaf blowing each morning – with golf beginning soon after first light it makes it very challenging to complete course set up as thoroughly as we would like, it is also not enjoyable for members being followed by our leaf blowers.
A 10th tee start ensures we can maintain a nice gap from the first groups of the day.
Other reasons are that our back 9 is the “drier” half of the course and with more 9-hole rounds being played due to less daylight and poorer weather the front 9 in theory will receive less traffic through the wetter months.
We received 50mm of rain in the last week of October – I am pleased to say that the course held up fantastically. We had to operate composite holes on a couple of occasions but pleasingly the course did not close at all. Our priority is always to keep the course open, unfortunately this time of the year this is not always possible, and we may have to apply some restrictions.
Our newly installed divot trees have proved a popular addition. Your assistance in repairing divots as you play is greatly appreciated.
The 4 divot trees are located on holes 1, 5, 10 and 14 currently with BLUE divot bag bins located next to the divot trees on holes 1 and 5 with another by the 18th green path and one by the shoe cleaning area.
Our path topping project took place during the first week of October which has improved the pathway quality following a long summer. We will complete this process every March/April and October.
Our Gianni Ferrari (cut and collect machine) has been busy multi-tasking – progressing through the long rough whilst collecting leaves to help keep the course tidy. We will continue to cut and collect the long rough until the whole course has been finished. The machine is temporarily out of action whilst we wait for a new part.
The driving range has been verti-drained in preparation for the winter months, we used a 19mm diameter solid tine and punched holes to a depth of around 8 inches. We also added a little ‘heave’ to the operation, this is where the tine enters the ground at one angle and leaves at another creating a pocket of air with just a single hole on the surface – all to aid drainage.
We will proceed with caution on the range area with hand picking taking place through the next few months – your understanding is appreciated whilst we complete this work.
We have begun vert-draining fairways and carries as you will see from the image below – the recent dry weather window has helped us to be able to perform this task.
Our tractor and verti-drain will be operating in golf – unfortunately there is not a perfect solution to avoiding golf whilst this work takes place. Please note that once the tractor has begun its pass the machine is unable to stop part way through the fairway.
I am pleased to inform you that we will begin our in-house winter projects in the coming weeks. We will be renovating fairway bunkers on holes 11 (3) and 16 (2). These bunkers will be GUR whilst work takes place.
We will continue with our proven and successful combination of blinder (rubber crumb base), Eco bunker (revet) and china clay sand. All sand removed from these bunkers will be spread on selected wet fairways and the driving range to aid surface firmness.
We will be renovating our white teeing areas whilst they are closed for the winter. We will be aerating, overseeding with Crystal Blue Links and top dressing to smooth off the surface.
Other projects that we will be completing include.
- Canopy lifting trees throughout the course
- Replace steps on the 7th tee
- Continue sand transition to china clay in bunkers
I will keep you up to date with progress and project plans throughout the winter.
We will be carrying out a monthly aeration program on greens throughout the winter. We will begin week commencing 22nd of November, we will use our verti-drain with 10mm diameter solid tines and aim for a depth of around 9 inches.
This will be followed with a roll to return the greens back to good condition straight away. This process is essential to relieve compaction from the summer months whilst aiding drainage.
We will operate around golf as best as we can and won’t affect any competitions that week, however, we will use a temporary green whilst completing this work in general play golf.
We have managed to keep worm casts to a minimum on the playing surfaces with the use of growth regulators and brushing when conditions allow.
Greens remain in good condition, they are firm and have retained a good pace even at our slightly higher height of cut (3.75mm), we are now hand mowing greens through the winter.
We have also kept the impact of disease to a minimum via moisture management and well-timed fungicide applications.
As mentioned in my last blog I wanted to introduce you to the team as we have some new names this year.
Our team now consists of….
- Myself – Course Manager
- Lee Davies – Deputy Course Manager
- Luke Brophy – Senior Greenkeeper
- Niki Megarity – Assistant Greenkeeper
- Richard Bonner – Greenkeeper
- Jordan Blaser – Greenkeeper
- Ryan George – Trainee Greenkeeper
- David Hunt – Mechanic/Greenkeeper
- Aaron Siddell – Casual Greenkeeper (part time)
- Mike Armitage – Gardener (Thursdays)
Each month I will select one person from the team, provide you with a photo and a short bio so that you get to know the team.
This month I would like to introduce Luke Brophy
Age – 23
Joined Sand Martins – August 2021
Hobbies – ‘A couple of my hobbies would be gym and fitness, I also love boxing as I used to do it but since the pandemic started, I haven’t been able to as much. I hope to get back into it soon.
Favourite task – I would say my favourite job is hand mowing greens as the presentation achieved is brilliant, also it keeps me active which works well with my hobbies. When we hand mow we walk approximately 10km.
I am pleased with the course to date, we are in a reasonably strong position for this time of year.
Enjoy your golf and wrap up warm, long may this weather continue.