British summer time has now officially ended and our seasons are officially in change. The trees are now in transition as winter approaches and leaves are becoming our new enemy (but not for Ian in the pro shop as lost ball season is here). The beautiful colours on the trees are now showing as they shut down their chlorophyll production allowing anthocyanin leaf pigment to show (this is the red/purple colour we associate with Autumn leaves).
I wanted to use this blog to look back at how our golfing season finished and talk about what we are doing now.
The heavy rainfall in both August and September meant the course recovered fantastically following the really dry months of June and July.
The fairways in particular improved from the fertiliser program. This month we also applied an iron to strength the grass plant and a penetrant wetting agent. This combination has helped the rain penetrate through the thatch layer on the fairways giving some of the weaker areas a chance.
Some of these areas will need more work, for example hollow coring, verti draining, over seeding but this was an essential process to help recovery and reduce moss invasion. The iron also helped green up the fairways giving a dark carpet like effect.
Another area that I think has already started to show signs of improvement user the surround and semi rough. The aeration work (shown in a previous blog),the change of machine used for cutting these areas, we are now using a cylinder mower know as a sidewinder.
We have also started our feeding program on the surrounds.
This is just the start of our plans and I expect these areas to improve year on year.
We have raised the height of cut on greens now as we start to prepare for the winter months. (When I say raised this so far is only 1mm higher!).
We have continued to Iron greens when possible especially at the end of the September, when we had lots of tournaments including a shot gun re run of the pro am.
This was a particular problem due to day light. (This is a problem we experience a lot at this time of year).
Thanks to Murray for lending us a two extra turf irons (above) for the pro am morning so we could split the course up to get done in time.
Early morning tournaments require lighting rigs on machines in the winter but at present we only have one machine for this.
The other works are carried out under moonlight and vechile lights! This can be interesting but needs must and the guys are great at getting out in the dark to stay ahead of the golf.
I was asked the other day why we start on the early holes and go round in order and not backwards so only to see one group at a time? This is a very good idea and one we use for certain tasks but course set ups have to happen in front of play. Otherwise the competition would need to be cancelled as the players would not be playing the same course! (Now in match play that's fine but not in medals etc). On the other hand players that sneak off before the first competition time (trying to get round quickly) not only slow our course set up down but they also end up being disqualified. Lucky enough this hasn't happened yet but please bare us in mind when arriving on a dark winters morning. We are trying to get round ahead and we are doing everything we can.
The greens have also received another micro tine in October ( with us taking full advantage of the mild weather). Just to note this took a day and a half to complete with Graham H walking over 20 miles once completed.
We followed this up by hand cutting the greens. This gives a great cut quality and rolls at the same time. It also gave Rob a chance to practice for his European Tour event (more on this to come).
The tees have had there end of season renovations. This included hollow coring, over seeding, topdressing followed by a granular fertiliser to see us through the winter. This is a six month feed and we have purchased a grass seed that germinates down to 3 degrees to help us tackle the tough winter conditions.
The cores were then used in bare areas around course to help get grass coverage back to those awkward areas.
Long roughs or Eco roughs, Heather areas
A lot of work has gone into the long roughs and Heather areas in general lately.
The long rough areas have been getting flailed. This machine cuts grass at high heights and brings it down to ground level.
It's cutting unit is basically made up of a blade on a chain attached to a spinning drum. This action also reduces the grass making the areas thinner (grass coverage wise) this in turn helps thin the roughs out but allows us to keep them long with it getting easier to find your ball. This is then collected thus reducing the nitrogen input to the area.
The tee banks have been sprayed for weeds along with their winter cut.
The cutting of the banks took over 75 man hours to do! You can see how this could be extremely labour intensive to do all year round as these are hours that could be spent on key playing surfaces.
It's also worth noting that the front cover of the score card and in the history book it shows the tee banks are naturally long fescue banks!
Our next stage with the tee banks will be to apply a product that removes the Rye grass and leaves just the fescue grass species.
The Heather areas have been a bit protected this year as they are still very young so going aggressive would have set us back. We have been cutting these areas with the Grillo as this removes the grass cover and improves the light to Heather.
We have also applied rescue to these areas to remove some of the corse grass species. Doing this each year will greatly improve these areas.
Again above you can see the Heather coming through as the grasses thin.
We have started to lift the crowns of the tree lines or the over hanging branches in certain areas. We have even had some help from some of the members. Thank you gents!
Also the guys have been busy turfing worn areas around the course. These have included ends of pathways, bunker edges that have been lost. Areas around the 17th ditch and just general wear areas.
The picture below really does show how good the matting is compared to an area next to it without.
The area now turfed and waiting for matting to be added.
The ends of the paths will have the honey cone matting added once rooted and then fertilised to get the turf through the matting ASAP.
Lots of planning is underway for the new bunker phase plus lots of other exciting projects to be carried out in the coming years following the vote at the EGM. Below is Murray Long (course consultant) measuring up areas.
I think that's enough from me at the moment. I will blog soon and let you know how one of our team got on at his first European Tour event and our war with the leaves.
Just want to finish by saying thanks to the greenstaff again for all there hard work. The early mornings in the dark and days spent out in the rain they are all working terrifically well. Add to this the plans presented at the EGM and voted for by the membership means we are getting excited at what's going to be happening in the coming years.
The future is very bright!