From The Deputy Course Manager:
Well, we are into May and although we have had some great weather the temperatures at night are still quite low, even a touch of frost in some sheltered places around the course!
As you may know, Dave our Course Manager has been away for the last 3 weeks to welcome his daughter into the world and I’m sure you will join me and all the staff in wishing many congratulations to both him and his wife!
Over the last 3 weeks myself and the team have mainly been keeping the course cut and defined. It’s great to be in this position to present the course being as dry as it is. Unfortunately, this also comes with the added job of watering.
Another thing you may have noticed is the 2nd bunker has gone and has now been fully filled in and turfed. With the issues we had with it not draining in wet weather, combined with enough hazards (the pond and the tree to the Right-hand side) we decided the hole didn’t need any more and this in turn will hopefully help to speed up play!
We have also started to seed a few weak areas on the 4th green and the 16th. When you are next at these greens you will see the improvement which I am very pleased with! 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, it is the most effective, and sets us on the road of reducing incidences of course closures.
Finally, I’m pleased to welcome our new team member Sam to the greens department! That takes us to 6 which will be fantastic for the continued progression of the course! He has now been with us for just over a week and is doing well!
Here’s to a great and successful forthcoming season for The Bristol!
It has also come to my attention that there is some concern about the current condition of the greens.
I want to reassure you all the greens are exactly where would expect them to be at this time of year with the given weather conditions.
Please let me explain to you why the greens are behaving how they are and when this will be resolved.
We have two main types of grass in our greens, annual meadow grass (Poa) and bent (Agrostis Stolonifera). These two grasses grow at different soil temperatures with the poa growing at roughly 7-12 degrees and the bent growing at around 15 degrees. Please note that soil temperature is different to atmospheric temperature.
Currently, and for the last few weeks, weather conditions have been very dry and cold. Ground/soil temperatures generally not getting above 10 degrees. This is causing the poa grass to wake up and start to grow and the bent to remain dormant. This is the cause of the bobbling on the greens. You may see on the greens, in particular in the afternoons, there is a slight white bloom of the poa flower head opening up. This is a great indication that the grass is starting to wake up from its winter dormancy and the soil temperature rising.
This combined with a very dry few weeks, and the inability to irrigate due to cold ground temperatures – putting cold irrigation water on the greens will only further reduce the soil temperatures – has resulted in the greens being a few weeks back from their optimal condition for this time of year.
The good news, however, is that we are due warmer weather from next week, which will hopefully result in all the grasses waking up and growing, enabling us to cut at the same height and smooth out the putting surfaces.
As of Monday, May 2nd, the greens have been fed with their spring fertiliser, which in combination with the rising temperatures will mean that we are confident that within the next two to three weeks the greens will start to thicken out and develop a thicker sward across the surface and create a smoother putting surface. Once the grass has started to grow evenly, we can begin to reduce the height of cut on the greens and then use our greens iron to further enhance the smoothness and speed of the greens.
In addition to the greens, I wanted to let you know that we have ordered 40 tonnes of sand for the bunkers. This is arriving in the coming weeks and will help us to ensure that they play more consistently going into the summer.
Kevin – Deputy Course Manager.