Saturday, 11 June 2016

Here comes the summer sun

I am sorry it's been a while since my last blog, things have been very busy out on the course. I have so much to talk about but had so little time. 
(Picture by Kevin Murray)

We can safely say the weather has changed and the growth kicked in during May and into June. For those of you who like some of the data we collect. Our GDD (growth number) for April was 51, in May the number increased to 207!! and most of that was in the last 20 days of that month. Looking at this in cumulative YTD, it took us 93 days to reach the magic 100 GDD and just another 14 days to reach 200 and just 15 more days to hit 300. Some Agronomists were calling this 'the biggest growth flush ever seen'. 

So how did this flush effect us? 
Well, we decided we need to apply a small fertiliser during May in the end to improve grass coverage on the greens following all the aeration and topdressing work. This combined with the flush meant our usual one or two boxes of clippings off all the greens increased to 18 boxes! During the weekend of the 14/15th May. 
So that weekend the greens probably felt a bit slow, to say the least. I am upset about this? Yes for the players side but the rewards we have had since then with the greens surfaces has been fantastic and we haven't looked back since. 
The thing with growth is we can try and force it on, sometimes with little success  but once it starts going we can regulate it back to were we need it. 

We spray growth regulators and believe me with the growth we have experienced one of our main jobs has been to regulate as many areas as possible. 
All greens, tees, fairways, aprons, surrounds and bunker banks have been hit to slow there metabolism down and to allow us to maintain them better. 
So let's talk about some areas of the course.

Regular applications of Plant growth Regulators plus low input liquid fertilisers have been getting applied. Wetting agents also have been getting applied regularly. 

We have been working hard decreasing seed heads on the greens with light grooming, brushing and a couple of verti cuts. 

Doing all of these has also helped us to lift some of the grasses that lie flat across the greens and lift these up, giving us smoother greens with better ball roll. 

Aeration works including sarel rolling and solid tinning with micro tines (small pencil like) on the pro core have also been completed. 

Our new rear roller (optional extra) on the pro core has allowed this process to be done by one member of the team rather than two with one having to roll in behind. Hats off to Rob for coming early and walking those extra miles (around 16) to get this done a head of play. 

Topdressings are still being applied with lower rates with more often applications taking place. We are applying 5 tons an application at the moment just to keep the surfaces smooth. This is either brushed in as above or by hand using the dewie brushes. 

The turf iron has become a regular feature of our weekly maintenance program going out two to three times a week. Our aeration works are planned to off set any compaction caused.

Some irrigation repairs have been beefing carried out to some of the greens sprinklers around various greens on the course. This should allow us to actually get water to the areas we require it. 

Tees, fairways, surrounds and Aprons 

A lot of work had been getting done to the tees and aprons too. With increased cutting and fertiliser / PGR applications. 

The divoting of tees has intensified and treating worn areas.

Above you can see the divots repaired with the new greener grasses

The Rye stalks that appear this time of year (see above standing tall) have been getting cut out by hand mower (well done steve, it's along way round the course with garden type mower). This is something we will work in the coming months using the verti cutting units. 

The steps and tee tops are constantly being weeded (steps) and cut. We have also started to trial a product which removes the thick Rye grass from the banks, leaving the fescue grass species (the thinner, taller species that wave in the wind). This will he repeated twice a year until we reach the look require. More on this soon.

The fairways have been getting regular fertility and PGRs along with wetting agents to try and help the water penetrate when it rains to improve grass coverage. We have also sprayed all Tees, aprons, fairways and semi with herbicide weed killer to remove any un wanted species.

Pictures shows the white blobs from the sprayer which indicates where we have been. 

Like the other areas above the surrounds are getting better all the time. The extra cuts and cylinder mowing is helping alot.
We have been out fertilising any weak areas and divoting them just like tees. The steep banks which we strim (above surround picture) have also had grow regulator applied. 


The pathways around the course require a lot of maintenance. They wash away easy and are one of our biggest issues as a team. This is something I m desperate to improve in the coming years. 

The guys have been busy doing what we can. Above you can see them weeding them and moving materials around to improve what we have. 

A lot of re shaping and edging has been done too (great work from both Matthew and Mike on these areas). We will continue to top these areas up and improve in the coming weeks. Be assured these are important to us too. 


The bunkers have had a lot of work to them. This year alone (until June) they have received over 1100 man hours of work. That works out to one guy for 27.5 weeks work based on a 40 hour week!! It's only June... 
We have been edging using both edging irons and strimmers has been an almost bi weekly task. 

We have also spent many hours de weeded and hand picking out stones from the bases. Bucket after bucket load were removed.
These reappear everytime it rains through simple erosion but they need to be done. This something I believe will improve greatly with the new bunkers.

The bunkers have finally been getting there top up to see us through the season. Our new conveyer on our topdresser really has helped to speed this process up. 

This will be something we can improve apon even further as we move forward now we have the right kit and some regular depth monitoring. 

The bunker banks the have been sprayed for weeds and growth regulators too but these have to be done by knapsack as they are too steep to drive on. 

Other areas 

The ditches have been getting strimmed regularly over the last month especially with the extra growth. Like a lot I have just talked about all the detail work like pathways, ditches and bunkers are very labour intensive. 

Various hedge works have been getting done especially around the car park. 

We have also increased our works to the entrance and car park areas as we look to improve these too. 
Areas that we wish to reduce our cutting have had a chemical applied to stop them growing. 

Some wild flower seeds have been planted in the overflow car park banks 

Works have continued to our yard following the installation of the cesspit to the rear of the new welfare block.

You may have noticed that we have started to build the new Heather bed near the pro shop using the Oak sleepers from the fallen Oak tree at the 10th. More on this once it's completed.

As you can see, it's been a busy period for us. I haven't even spoke about Rob working at Wentworth for the BMW or the fact tha our new machinery has been delivered or the big news that we moved into our new welfare block. This has been the equivalent to moving house while all this works been going on!! I will blog in more detail about all of this very soon plus the works going on with the heathers, what Niall and the gang have been doing and our US Open style rough and what we are going with it...
 I told you to much to talk about :-) 

I must finish by saying the guys (greenstaff) have been terrific over the last few weeks with lots of hard work being required out on the course and back at the sheds why we move and try to organsise ourselves plus getting the course in shape following the winter and spring. If you see them, say hi or give them a wave. They have been working hard for you and your course. 
I thank them for there superb efforts, long may it continue!  

I hope this helped you to see what we ve been doing. There's a lot more to come. 

Happy golfing 




  1. The course really is in fantastic shape Matt. Congratulations and lots of thanks to you and the team. It's a real pleasure to play at Stoneham these days! What are your plans for the rough !? 😀

    1. Thanks Darren. New blog on the Roughs coming soon.