Members Newsletter – March 2022
From the Course Manager
Just like that, we are through February and edging ever closer to the start of the main playing season.
We experienced great weather conditions for winter through January and into the mid-part of February. After a very rocky start to the new year following persistent rain, it was a welcome sight to have settled conditions through the two months. This again meant we were able to keep the course fully open and maintained, which is unheard of for us. General conditions on the course have held up very well and set us on the right path for the spring and getting the course into shape.
Unfortunately, even with the extended dry period we experienced, we were still set back again when the rain and storms hit us from mid-February onwards. It’s always worth remembering that, even with extended dry periods after heavy rain, the water is still sitting in the upper soil and clay and, due to colder temperatures and reduced sun light, this moisture level doesn’t just disappear.
However, I am now very pleased to let you all know that we are commencing with the early stages of a course topographical report. The significance of this report is huge. Once the complete site has been surveyed and all the undulations and elevations have been mapped out, we can then move on with the proposed new drainage installation planning.
We are working with a few drainage specialist companies to help us achieve the goal of having all the carries, fairways, semi rough and walk off areas drained. As you can imagine, this is a mammoth task and will take time, but we want to ensure that whatever work is carried out on the course is the most effective, and sets us on the road of reducing incidences of course closure to the minimum. We are all realists and I will not say that the course still won’t have days when it needs to be closed following heavy rain, but the main purpose of pursuing this course of action is to drastically reduce the time between closure and reopening and have better general play throughout the winter months.
The course itself has not received any significant or effective drainage works in a very long time, and what has been done in the past was not carried out in the correct manner so has not worked. This is why we are making sure that we use professional sports turf drainage companies to carry out the work and use their knowledge to help us achieve our goal.
We have now started to take delivery of parts for our new machinery purchases. This month, we received our new tractor-mounted aerator. This, along with the other pieces of machinery coming in the near months, is going to be a huge step forward for us. Some of you will have seen the machine in action punching holes in the greens and, in comparison to its predecessor which was over 20 years old, the after effect and finish is night and day. All greens were aerated to a depth of 8 inches, using a 12mm diameter tine. Our old machine finally gave up the ghost back in late.
October, and was deemed beyond economic repair. The New Weidennman Terra spike is larger and, as I mentioned before, a much more advanced machine. We were able to get all the greens on both courses aerated in just over 11 hours, whereas the predecessor took around the 15 hour mark.
The old question I often get asked following any aeration operation is ‘Why are you putting holes in the greens again?’ The key points I respond with are: in any sports turf, surfaces that are played on over 12 months a year will become compacted. With compaction, this leads to a reduction in development of healthy roots that will carry the nutrition to the plant, and if the plant cannot receive nutrition then it can not develop and grow. For roots to develop, they must have air pockets where they can search out and establish new rooting. Aeration is about creating more air space in the soil to develop rooting which then leads to the turf staying healthier and performing better under stressful conditions through the year.
Obviously, by then creating these holes, you will help with the infiltration of water caused by rain or irrigation. Getting the moisture off the leaves of the plant and into the soil is vital to reduce a spongy effect, which in tern leads to uneven playing surfaces. By having the channels open, the moisture can be filtered through the root zone, the plant will take in what it needs and the remaining will run through to the drainage system.
Around the rest of the course, the team have been working on all the greenside bunkers that over time have become worn out on the edges which has led to some collapsing. To build these back up and re establish the edges, the guys used wooden boards that are pegged into the soil. Then behind that they are able to build the levels up using soil, without the risk of it migrating into the bunker. Once they had the levels set, they then proceeded to lay new turf and blend in with the surrounding areas. All areas have been marked GUR and we would be grateful that, if your ball is to land on those areas, it be picked up, placed and played in another area. These boards will be left in place for a few months to ensure the establishment is given the greatest opportunity. After that, they will be removed and those areas will be bought back into play.
We have also had large flail and hedge cutting machinery onsite, clearing back overgrown brambled areas, along with cutting down and thinning out some of the long heavy grassed areas around the course. Some of these areas will proceed to be cut down to normal rough height as we head into the season. Other areas will be sprayed with selective herbicides and then left again to grow up. This will reduce the unsightly weeds in these areas and leave a more clean, grass meadow for insects and small animals.