Winter programme – Update from our Head Greenkeeper
Welcome to my Winter Work Update report for January 2018, I would like to start by welcoming on board Gordon Thomson as our Greens Convenor, and we look forward to working with Gordon over the coming seasons.
Since the start of the winter we have worked our way through the winter improvements we hoped to achieve as per our winter work schedule. The weather up until the start of December had been as favourable as we could expect but since then the weather has been consistently cold with some very low temps(leading to frozen soils) and some spells of lying snow cover over the golf course. Over this period the course has been closed due to snow or severe flooding on a couple of occasions, over December 2017 until January 12th 2018 we have been closed for 10 days, December closed 8 day and January we have been closed 2 days, most of the time when we have been open we have been on temp greens due to severe frosts.
Big greens were off!
Our Winter work has gone well, and as I write this we have carried out a complete major drainage system install work on our 8th, 9th and 10th greens (we still have turf to tidy and edge etc. once the frost has lifted). We managed to get ahead of our schedule and on 28/11/17 and it was decided by the team and the club officials at this point, that we would adjust our programme and remove the drainage work from our 7th green (this to be done next winter) and focus our attentions on making a start on improving our 18th approach (lots of work to be done in this area over the next couple of winters) and to drain the front of our 14th green as these areas have become extremely wet over the last 5 months or so.
Unfortunately we have not been able to get to these areas as we would have hoped due to the current weather, this though has allowed us to remove troublesome trees from the golf course at our 18th green area to the right hand side (to allow better air and light into green and eventually to allow this bank to be graded better and free up the soil to regrade our 18th approach area), trees to the left and the back of our 14th green have also been removed and thinned out to allow air and light in and to remove the problem of needles being dropped onto the 14th green from the closely planted Larch trees.
18th green before tree thinning
18th green after tree thinning – some much needed light and air flow
Over this winter we have continued on with Aeration work when conditions have been suitable with all areas of the golf course having some sort of aeration work carried out on them, we have aerated the fairways twice, our tees and then we have slit, the greens have been deep tinned and shallow slit over this period, this aeration work will continue through the rest of the winter and into the spring as we prepare the course for the season ahead once the frosts have come completely out of the ground and machinery becomes available.
2nd green-side bunker remodelling project
One project we’re undertaking will put a smile on the face of most members! The complete remodelling of the front green-side bunker on our second hole. This bunker has cost most of us a shot or two over the years.
The shape and depth of the bunker has changed entirely, gone is the sheer drop face that has seen many a play out sideways, instead a more ‘fair’ bunker that will still protect the green from the bigger hitters.
We have had unforeseen issues with a major water blockage underneath the access road at our old shed. This area has now been excavated and cleared following an approach from the council to repair this area to stop any water entering the main roadway.
While they were on-site they also identified the entry to our top car park that has water leaving our ground and entering the roadway, this unplanned work had to be carried out immediately and we have managed to install a drain into our own land to divert this water (we still have some grating work to complete) down into to our own car park.
We have further issues with water entering our land that have to be dealt with. Due to the extra unforeseen works carried out we now expect that one or two of our anticipated winter improvement works will have to be rescheduled due to time constraints.
Major greens coring work will be taking place prior to the season as we need to remove excessive organic matter from our soil profile, this has built up again with the extreme wet end to the golfing season we endured.
This work will be followed up with a heavy top-dressing of sand and greens over-seeded where required. This work will be carried out once we have better temperatures and better recovery conditions. Hopefully this work will be carried out between middle of February and the middle of March to allow the surfaces to recover prior to the season beginning.
Over the next month we will continue to mow when conditions and growth allows as well as continue with or winter programme work.
Upcoming maintenance is as follows.
- General Maintenance Work
- General Course Tidying of branches and weeding work etc.
- Continue to apply Soil Improvers and Nutrients when required to encourage a healthy plant growth on greens and tees.
- Mow tees and surrounds.
- Light Verti-Cutting of greens when conditions allow prior to coring work.
- Weed Reduction control to path edges.
- Begin edging work to bunkers.
- We hope to carry out Vee-Mowing off fairways prior to the new season, again following an inspection of the soil profile we are building up thatch quicker than we are controlling it and this will lead to wet soft unplayable fairways over a short period of time, ideally we need to get back to applying sand when possible and soil amendments over all fairways but due to cost this operation has been restricted for some years now.
We continue to carry out chainsaw work when needed, as mentioned earlier in the report we still have many areas of trees to be removed to reduce unwanted needle/leaf drop, open up air/light movement and save labour on endless tidy up work required year on year and reduce damage caused to our cutting units.
The greens staff continue to develop our education on a regular basis through BIGGA and online courses/webinars and through networking through Facebook closed groups and being one of the founder members of the Compost Teas Association Group. Michael continues his education through GOSTA Training and is on course to be Level 3 qualified in Greenkeeping come the end of April.
I will be attending Harrogate BTME event where I have taken 4 days Annual Leave to further my education on areas such as Fairway Thatch Management, Developing a Comprehensive Golf Course Master Plan, Recognising and Rectifying Fairway Drainage Problems, Thatch Reduction and Root Mass Development by Using Wormpower and Continued Research in Soil Microbiology. During this event I will also be able to connect with all the industries major suppliers and catch up on all the new innovations and developments within the industry and in turn network with many fellow greenkeepers also.
During the playing season we will be on the look out for a bunker boy/girl to help out every other weekend and I will shortly be posting a small advert to help fill this position.
Our volunteers continue to help over this winter period when they are available, these people are a great help indeed, our volunteer group and staff had a good afternoon at our Christmas lunch, and we look forward to next year’s event already.