Weather conditions have set new records seeing the driest spring on record, which also confirms the amount of water disturbed through the irrigation system this year. Previously in 2019, a total of 10,230 cubic meters was used over the course of the year. So far this year, 5502 cubic meters have been used with four months left of the season.
During the end of May beginning of June the course suffered several days without a fully functioning irrigation system. The irrigation pump station suffered a pressure switch failure followed by a main pump failure. This led to the greens not seeing any water for 4 nights. Two of the nights were back to back during a hot spell.
Greens and tees are coming back on track since the pump failure during the previous hot spell.
Liquid applications of Nitrogen, Potassium, Magnesium, seaweed, growth regulator and wetting agents have been applied daily.
Greens and tees have been lightly scarified to thin out and remove lateral growth. Once the current hot spell passes, greens will see a more vigorous scarification (verti-cut), plus another sand dressing in preparation for competition golf.
The current height of cut stands at 3.75 millimetres down from 4.5 millimetres, with some leeway for the Club Championships.
Hand watering is now occurring daily to areas with poor irrigation coverage.
New tees from the previous winter construction are reaching the normal height of cut. Soon they will merge with all existing tees regarding general maintenance.
Jobs ongoing: hedge work around the course either in front of tees or along pathways.
Constant attention to sprinkler heads to maximise efficiency and using the rain train on certain fairways. The rain train (travelling sprinkler) unfortunately had to come off the course during the pump station breakdown. Ragwort clearance and weeding paths. Strimming bunkers. Divots on tees. Course furniture is making a steady return in line with England Golf. This includes hazard markers, fairway markers, 150 posts, and traffic posts. In planning, on top of the above, Greens will receive a pencil tine aeration to a depth of 8 inches to relieve tension.
Finally, Amy is now slowly taking over the role of spraying technician due to only the Course Manager holding a licence. Amy is making great progress towards a test later in the year.
Since November continuous rainfall has been helpful for new turf, however not for earthworks, work has continued regardless.
December rainfall 148mm / 5.8 inches. Days closed 4, Days carrying only 11, Days with no buggies 23.
Progress with renovation work is still ahead of schedule. All 14 new bunkers are now lined, drains installed and ready for new sand. There is a total of 100 tonnes to go out which also covers a spring top up to existing bunkers for the season ahead.
John Deere from Blashford are kindly lending a six series loading tractor during the last week of January allowing new sand to go out. Also, during this week, the tractor will be used to load top-dressing to lightly sand the greens, another task that cannot be achieved without this piece of machinery.
Fence work within the course is now complete. This includes 5 Stroller white tee and 2 Needles pond. Fence work along the cliff top will commence once all tee work is complete.
Tee levelling is making good progress, 8 Needles white tee is now level and turfed.
2 Needles white tee and 7 Stroller red tee are levelled ready for turf.
5 Stroller white and red tees are close to completion ready for turf, Irrigation is also installed to the red tee.
The 5th and final tee originally selected was 2 Becton winter tee. Since placing the tee blocks onto this area, it is not as uneven as other tees across the course. Therefore, a decision was made to change the last tee to 7 Needles white and yellow summer tee due to subsidence. This will not disrupt play due to a new mat already installed on this hole.
The target is to have all 5 tees levelled and turf laid before the end of January.
New mats are in play on 3 Becton, 7 & 9 Needles. Mats outstanding to be installed are 3 & 6 Stroller, unfortunately, due to weather conditions these are on hold until the following winter.
One set of steps are to be removed towards the rear of 3 Becton tee.
Two sets of new steps on 8 Becton and 6 Stroller will be installed during February.
Gorse has been trimmed back on 3 Stroller to open the view of the new bunkers.
9 Stroller path has been removed and turf laid. Other smaller paths such as 4 & 6 Needles will also be removed in future winter projects.
Welcome to the Autumn greenkeeping blog; since the last time of writing the weather has improved for turf health, however most would agree not for golf. The welcome sight of rain has increased grass sward recovery, turning the course green for the first time in two years. Applications of fertiliser, both granular and liquid, have been applied to all areas of the course. Weak fairways have seen additional feeds along with over-seeding to encourage growth while there is still enough warmth before the winter period. Greens recently underwent autumn renovations which have been a success and are now recovering tremendously, heading into a cold snap.
The winter construction programme on Stroller is now well under way. Stroller 1 consists of four new bunkers, removing the previous 3 bunkers, improving the hole both maintenance wise and aesthetically. This hole is now almost ready for new turf to be laid.
Stroller 3 and 6 are currently having earth works carried out, reducing the amount of bunker area and again drastically improving the holes. Work will shortly commence on 8 Stroller re-bunkering and mounding around the green to replace the high bunkers' faces which currently sit. These high faces are impossible to maintain as sand is either blown or washed down exposing stones and poor drainage.
The new path on 6 Becton has settled in nicely, once turf begins to arrive for the Stroller construction work the path on 6 Becton will be edged with new turf. A trial is also under way to source a new winter mat for 3 Becton, then other mats around the course. The new mat will need to be sturdy under foot as well as being able to place a tee anywhere within the mat. The final result should arrive soon.
Once the major section of the construction is complete, the next task of levelling certain tees will commence, weather permitting. An update will follow.
Finally, congratulations to Amy for succeeding in being selected to attend the greenkeeping BTME 3 day conference in Harrogate early next year. There are only two places, all expenses paid, up for grabs within the southern and southwest region of the country. Well done Amy!
Now summer is arriving, with the reduction in rainfall, some may say we never saw spring. We began the year incredibly dry, almost carrying on from the singe of last summer. Ideal for winter golf, however some much-needed moisture is something we could pray for.
There are still remnants of last summer showing across the course, the team has covered all areas with high nitrogen feeds, over-seeding and top dressing. Once the rain arrives there will be plenty of sward recovery.
Phase five winter construction on Becton is now in full play with some stunning bunkers, especially the 8th hole. Certainly, one that will be challenging in the easterly winds!
Greenkeeping is now in full swing with all machinery on the course. Four new additions are arriving imminently - two petrol utility vehicles and two greens mowers. This is part of our five-year rolling plan to upgrade machinery to ensure we run as efficiently as possible.
The team is working hard as the Club Championships arrive, focusing on presentation, greens speed and topping up bunkers with sand after strong winds earlier in the year removed a fair amount.
Finally, we are in the planning stage of renovating the staff quarters; this is an internal building within the green sheds that has come to the end of its life. The team members are looking forward to the change.
It was an exciting end to last year with arguably the most interesting course development project so far as it involved our Becton loop. Changes to the famous Harry Colt design had to be subtle and fit in with the rest of the course. Guided by the club's course architect, Howard Swan, all of the construction was done in house, which kept the team busy for 6 weeks. When asked if we had enjoyed the project it was unanimous - hard work but well worth the effort.
There have been some changes in the team over the last 6 months, with Kevin leaving us after just two years to further his career at Ferndown. We recruited quickly because of the winter schedule, finding Amy Thomas looking for a move from Farnham Golf Club. Amy is ambitious, well qualified and has proved a popular member of staff...she even made the boys brush up on their housekeeping in the sheds.
Over the last couple of years, the Board being very pro-active has allowed us to increase the team to 9 full time staff with 2 part time, incorporating the clubhouse gardening into the weekly work plans. This has enabled us to increase mowing and all presentation around the course. Away from basic greenkeeping the team has achieved diverse projects that are still ongoing. A clubhouse staff outside seating area has been built by Stroller 1st tee. The range buggy has its own garage alongside the maintenance sheds, purpose built by the team. Several other projects are in the pipeline, to be reported on in the next blog.