Friday, 19 December 2014

Course improvements - week 5

After much persistent rain (and it's not over yet!!), we managed to get some more turfing work done this week. The heavy rain of the previous week had shelved any plans for turfing.

Our objective was to finish the area left of the 2nd green, comprising the new bunker complex.

The above photo was taken about 3 weeks ago during the very early stages of reducing the size of this bunker and improving the contouring and maintenance around the left side of the 2nd green complex.

The photo above shows the very speedy progress that was made on Wednesday, thanks to some much appreciated volunteer assistance.

The photo above is of the guys just finishing off. Hopefully, you'll agree that the transformation is really good and demonstrates how positive the course improvements are. 

Once this turf has rooted in, we will revisit this bunker to shape the base, test the existing drainage, add bunker sand and re-edge the bunker. However, this area will appreciate a nice break for the time being to recover!!!

We also made a start on the new 4th greenside bunker complex this week. Although we won't be able to finish the turfing of this area or the 9th tee until the New Year (the turf company has closed for Christmas now!!), we anticipate finishing all of this work by the end of the first working week of January.

This should then give all of these re-turfed areas plenty of time to establish before the 2015 golf season.

Many thanks to Alan Cooper, Phil Lockett, Mike Hall (& his 2 lads) and Tom Frame for assisting with the turfing work this week.

Please have a fantastic Christmas and New Year, and enjoy your golf!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Course improvements - week 3

This week, we have continued our turfing work. We have now exhausted the last of the turf that we were able to retain following the earthworks. 

That turf has been recycled (per se) in low priority areas (mainly tee surrounds) that will require very little future maintenance. However, we believed that this was still a worthwhile exercise because it reduces the financial cost to the golf club of having to purchase new turf.

Our progress, turfing wise, has been excellent and this is directly attributable to some sterling work from volunteer members. Take a bow (in no particular order) Alan Cooper, Mike Hall, Tom Frame and Nick Fletcher. Collectively, this week, the following areas have been completed:

- 8th forward tee
- 7th green surround
- 12th comp tee

These areas should, under favourable weather conditions, start to knit in within the next month or so. We will revisit all these areas soon to finish all the edging in, topdress out any surface irregularities and start rolling them to firm them up. 

The feedback so far has been very positive and we are pleased that the course alterations have been well received. It is our intention to finish the remainder of the turfing work within the next 2 weeks.

It is also our intention to get some more mowing done before Christmas if time and weather conditions permit.

Have a great weekend and enjoy your golf!

Friday, 28 November 2014

Course improvements - week 2

This week, Lakeland Construction finished their work on the golf course. You will notice some changes to the 2nd green complex, 3rd/12 tees and 9th tee.

Hopefully, you will all acknowledge that, in time, these changes will improve maintenance practices and add to the playability of these areas.

The 2nd green complex now has a much smaller bunker left of the green. In front of this, we will turf this roll off area and now it as part of the approach. Behind the green, this area now falls off nicely.

The 12th white tee has been realigned to the right, making it a more central driving hole. This should open up the start of the fairway considerably.

Each new tee has been laser levelled and the old, rotting sleepers have been removed. They all now have a tee bank that can easily be mowed. We stripped the turf off the 9th tee and this has been used to re-turf the new ladies 4th tee.

Lastly, the 9th tee has been shifted to the left and this allows all of the tee to be utilised for teeing up the ball. This newly shaped tee also aims directly to the centre of the 9th green.

Although there are several areas that will require turfing and seeding, we are condident that this work will be finished within the next 4-6weeks (weather permitting). In any event, these areas will all be ready for play for the new 2015 golfing season.

Many thanks to Tom, Len, the Captain  and Phil Lockett for assistance with turfing this week.

Have a great weekend and enjoy your golf!

Friday, 21 November 2014

Course improvements - week 1

This week has been busy! We have started to implement the golf course masterplan with some golf course improvements. 

Lakeland Earthworks are the contractors and they specialise in golf course and sports construction. Adie, the on site shaper, has produced some excellent work at holes 2, 4, 7 and 8.

We now have a new green side bunker at hole 4 and the base for path material to be installed too. In addition, 2 ladies tees have been created at holes 4 and 8. 

Adie also re shaped the back of the greens at holes 2 and 7. We have still some work to do at holes 2, 3 and 9 but the majority of the course improvement work has been finished. We are extremely pleased with the work carried out by Lakeland and, in particular, Adie. We look forward to your feedback and hope that you can all see that these improvements will, in time, improve the layout, aesthetics, playability and maintenance of the golf course.

I will provide more photos, information and updates in next week's blog.

Have a great weekend and enjoy your golf!

Friday, 14 November 2014

Tree felling...and more rain!

This week, we have been hit by steady rain that, whilst intermittent, has affected our opportunities of getting some mowing done.

What has been beneficial is some very worthwhile verti draining on some greens and approaches (to include temporary greens). This will assist in the drainage  of surface water on these playing areas and the open spike/tine holes will assist in keeping them drier.

We have also had an approved chainsaw trainer/assessor on the golf course this week and these guys have felled a fair few trees. 

Areas of the golf course are now opening up and this will aid recovery shots from tree areas as well as speeding up mowing and reducing the quantity of fallen leaves that have to be collected each year.

The really positive thing is that the work is not costing members any money and it starts the ball rolling with the execution of the golf course masterplan. 

We anticipate that we have now started a great partnership with the chainsaw instructor. This will help in delivering a golf course that maintains a parkland feel but is adopting a sensible approach to woodland management at the same time. We hope that you will all start to see the benefits to this excellent work and we welcome constructive feedback.

Finally this week, thanks to Mike Hall and Nick Fletcher for installing 3 new ball washer consoles on holes 3, 5 and 7. They look fantastic! Well done guys. 

Have a great weekend and enjoy your golf.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Winter project work

Following on from the members' open forum (where the greens committee presented the golf course masterplan and winter projects), I thought it a good idea to reiterate exactly what we shall be doing.

Starting Monday 17 November, Lakeland Earthworks will be on site for approximately 2 weeks to carry out a number of small projects.

This will include the following:

- Reshape greens surround at 2nd
- Reshape left green side bunker at 2nd 
- Rebuild 3rd white tee
- Create tee bank to right of 12th tee
- Remove small mound to left of 3rd approach
- Create new forward tee at 4th
- Reshape greens surround at 4th
- Create new bunker left of 4th green
- Remove mound behind 7th green
- Reshape greens surround behind 7th
- Create new forward tee at 8th

These are all coded on the golf course masterplan. Although they are not of utmost priority, they fit into the budget nicely and given a contractor had to build 2 new forward tees for the golf club at holes 4 & 8, it was considered a good idea to complete these small projects at the same time.

For your reference when looking at the golf course masterplan, they are as follows:

- 2-11P
- 2-11Q
- 2-11R
- 2-11S
- 3-12A
- 3-12B
- 3-12C
- 3-12F
- 4-13G
- 4-13H
- 4-13I
- 4-13S
- 4-13T
- 4-13V
- 8-17B

Hope this all makes sense!

Have a great weekend and enjoy your golf!

Friday, 17 October 2014

Arrival of Verti Drain

Great news this week - the golf club took delivery of an excellent used verti drain from Campey Turfcare, Macclesfield.

This means that the golf club no longer has to rely on outside contractors to perform this service. The machine can punch holes in the soil profile up to a depth of 10" (250mm). It operates on the same principles as a gardener would when forking over their soil borders. Very simple but extremely effective.

The benefits to the turf are increased rooting, improved air exchange, improved drainage capabilities and decompaction of heavy traffic areas on the golf course.

We are extremely thankful to the board of directors for sanctioning this acquisition and we intend to put it to good use immediately!

Have a great weekend and enjoy your golf!

Friday, 3 October 2014

Final topdressing of the season

This week, we have completed the final topdressing of the greens. It has been a light application with the aim of filling in the gaps from scarifying and solid tining.

Although sand creates an issue at this time of year with the heavy morning dew, it will help to restore fully the surface levels on the greens.

What we are hopeful of is that, heading into late autumn and winter, the greens will be nice and firm, standing up better to wear. The Anthracnose disease scars are now mainly healed over and we have had fantastic results from our greens overseeding.

In other news, we have been given some great help this week by Ray Barnes who has volunteered for 4 days this week clearing leaves on the golf course. Many thanks Ray. A job well done and we really appreciate it.

Finally, the Board sanctioned the purchase of a verti drain that will be delivered to us in the coming weeks. This will greatly improve our ability to decompact wear areas and improve the drainage characteristics of greens, tees and approaches.

Have a great weekend and enjoy your golf.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Renovation week (part 2)

This week, we finished our autumn aeration and topdressing work on greens 3, 5, 8 and the chipping green. These greens were solid tined to 3 inches and the holes were filled with sand. This will improve surface drainage, promote rooting and enable better air exchange as a result of having more sand in the soil profile.

Although these greens won't putt that great, they (alongside the greens scarified last week) have been fertilised to enable recovery. Rolling and mowing next week should help to restore these greens to a truer rolling surface.

The greens scarified last week are now recovering quite well and they too should be putting better by next week once the fertiliser has kicked in.

The overall aim is that the greens will be nice and firm as we head into Autumn. In other news, the Board of directors have sanctioned the purchase of a Verti Drain that will enable us to keep a range of playing surfaces firmer, drier and more free draining throughout the year.

This is fantastic news and it demonstrates a really proactive and progressive approach by the club.

Also, we should also be extremely grateful to Graham Barber who has managed to restore a pedestrian verti cutter back to working order. When it was passed to Graham, the machine wouldn't even start. Thanks to his expertise and diligence, the club can now boast another working machine. Many thanks Mr Vice!

Hopefully, the dry weather that we are currently enjoying will remain as long as possible so that members can enjoy the benefits of a dry golf course.

Have a great weekend and enjoy your golf!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Renovation week (part 1)

Wowzers! What a week we've had. It has been absolutely terrific, weather wise although the mornings have been cool and dews have been very heavy. Last week, we were forced to spray a fungicide to check some Fusarium activity which is often a recurring theme at this time of year.

We also started with our autumn greens renovation this week. Greens 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9 and Putting Green were all scarified with the Graden.

This pedestrian operated scarifier removes thatch from the surface to varying depths (we scarified to 15mm depth) and the debris is collected before we blow any remaining debris off the green. Then the final phase is to topdress sand into the grooves and brush it in.

The operation has been a great success and should ensure that the greens surfaces are firm and smooth heading into late autumn. We anticipate good recovery with the application of a very light 4:0:7 fertiliser which will give the plant just enough Nitrogen to recover from the scarifying.

Otherwise, it has been a great week for course conditioning and we hope that the course is now playing drier and firmer than in August.

Next week, we will solid tine & topdress greens. 3, 5 and 8 which will complete the autumn renovation program.

Have a great weekend and enjoy your golf!

Friday, 29 August 2014

The end of a very wet month

After a fantastic July, the weather in August has been very disappointing. 

Traditionally, golf courses are expected to be dry and sunny places to be in August. Yet it has been the wettest month of 2014 with nearly 5 inches of rainfall to date. This will help to explain why the golf course has softened up, rough is a bit tanglier, drives aren't running as far down the fairway etc. 

In particular, our more problematic greens like 4 (above), 6 and 9 are showing true symptoms of thatch build up. It was evident on Thursday morning whilst mowing greens. I noticed that the footprints had still remained from Wednesday evening on these poorer greens.

To combat this, our autumn greens renovation will commence Monday 8 September. We will micro tine, scarify and topdress the greens with the worst thatch build up. Greens 3, 5 and 8 will be solid tined and topdressed to maintain firmness and alleviate surface drainage issues.

It is expected that this work will cause some disruption to golf but it is essential if the greens are to improve in the long term. 

Have a great weekend and enjoy your golf!

Friday, 15 August 2014

The rain arrives in abundance - in August!

After a stunningly warm July, we are now experiencing slightly wetter conditions, weather wise. However, the golf course has held up really well despite receiving over 2 inches of rainfall since the start of August.

This greens in particular have performed really well and we believe this is testament to our continued aeration and topdressing program.

Our greens are now being double cut daily at 3mm and remain looking really healthy with good colour. Considering they were last fertilised on 27 May, this is proof indeed that greens do not require lots of fertiliser to sustain good growth and recovery.

The greens committee recently finalised details of the golf course masterplan that James Edwards, Golf Course Architect, drafted for the golf club. James is currently overseeing the finishing touches to this. 

Thereafter, it is the intention of the Board & Greens Committee to present this to the members, perhaps in an evening at the clubhouse. As a Greens Committee, we feel extremely enthusiastic that the golf course masterplan has been produced because it will allow us to start executing some of the projects assigned to it.

Have a great weekend and enjoy your golf!

Friday, 8 August 2014

New path work at 1st tee area

We have several people to thank for the excellent work to this area by the 1st tee/Putting Green area.

The Vice Captain managed to pull a favour to get the 2 grids made ( and at no cost to the club ). Secondly, Mike Hall, Phil Lockett & Nick Fletcher have resurfaced a large portion of this path area. We even had some of the junior section down to help too. So well done to all involved.

The work that has been done will give golfers a better impression as they arrive at the 1st tee or are finishing their round. Gone are the poor mats and now the area looks much fresher. It is by no means finished but it demonstrates positive progress.

Also this week, I have managed to get the course prepared for the rearranged Ladies Open weekend. With Ryan away on a well deserved holiday, I have done my utmost to get most tasks completed.

During my time changing holes today, I removed the plug for the new hole on the 8th green. The photos below demonstrate the effectiveness of verti draining and topdressing sand into the holes. Notice the sand in the bottom of the new hole and throughout the plug. 

This is what the hard work is all about and we need to continue this work to ensure that our greens remain as dry and free draining for as long as possible throughout the year.

Have a great weekend and enjoy your golf!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

6 months in!

Wow! Has it really been 6 months since I started work at PPGC?!!

Well, it has passed very quickly and much has been achieved. As we reach the back end of summer, the golf course is playing well and feedback from members has been very positive. There have been a few mad scores in competition play but nothing to indicate that the course is playing overly easy!

The greens are now in a much healthier position than when I started in February. We have added the ExtraCut brush to the front of our ride on greens mower and the difference this makes to surface texture and mowing quality is immense.

The hollow coring in May and monthly sand top dressing applications have assisted in keeping the greens surfaces firm, dry and rolling quite nicely. They are not exactly where I would like them to be but they are getting close.

Rooting is very good and the soil profile is improving with top dressing, aeration plus minimal irrigation and fertility.

We will scarify and topdress the greens in September with the intention that they will be that bit drier and firmer heading into Autumn and Winter.

Our work with James Edwards, Golf Course Architect, demonstrates really proactive and forward thinking progress by the club with a real commitment to making improvements to the golf course in the coming years. It is essential that the golf club progresses in this way in order to continue attracting new members, guests and corporate business.

The impending Environment Agency work will dovetail nicely with our partnership with James Edwards and we are positive that the club will benefit nicely as a result.

As always, I am thankful to Ryan for his excellent efforts and also to many members for their assistance including Tom Frame, Len Dilnutt, Phil Lockett, Nick Fletcher, Mike Hall, Jeff Perkin and Graham Barber. Likewise, we have other members who contribute to the cause and I am grateful to them too .

May I wish you continued enjoyment of your golf for the remainder of the summer and let's hope the weather stays kind to us!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Explaining Pin Positions

Perhaps it is right that we should explain our procedure for selecting pin position locations on greens. 

Our aim is always twofold:

- Spread wear patterns around the green
- Provide golfers with varying degrees of difficulty 

We now have a system in place that we believe is fair for all golfers and assists us in spreading wear patterns on the green.

We adopt a system as follows:

- 3 Front, 3 Middle & 3 Back locations for the 9 greens

- 3 Left, 3 Centre & 3 Right locations for each of the Front, Middle & Back locations. 

For this system, we work on a 3 hole rotation for holes 1-3, 4-6 and 7-9.

So, this Friday, the pin positions were set as follows:

1st hole   -   Front Centre
2nd hole  -   Back Right
3rd hole   -   Middle Left

4th hole   -   Front Left
5th hole   -   Back Centre
6th hole   -   Middle Right

7th hole   -   Front Right
8th hole   -   Middle Centre
9th hole   -   Back Left

What this then means is that the pins will only go back to the above positions every 10 weeks, ensuring variation for the golfer and minimising wear for us as greenkeepers.

Granted, there are occasionally some tricky pin positions out there! That said, it is the same for everybody and I guess that is the fun and challenge of golf. Nobody ever said that it's an easy game!!

Enjoy your golf!

Friday, 18 July 2014

A good week for mowing!!

This week, we have concentrated our efforts on repeated mowing on the golf course in order to maintain the consistency and to keep those playing surfaces firm and ensure good drives are rewarded with plenty of running!

We have been ably assisted by Phil Lockett who has done a great job in getting all our rough cut. So for those of you that find the rough during your round, you can tip your hat to Phil for it being down!! Thanks also to the Vice Captain for fitting a new starter motor on our Rough machine, saving us a lot of money in the process.

Hopefully, you'll all agree that the golf course is now getting to a standard that is very acceptable. The positive feedback following the Seniors' Open was very kindly received. Let's hope this good weather continues.

Have a great weekend and enjoy your golf!

Friday, 11 July 2014

More topdressing!!

This week, we took the opportunity to complete our July topdressing of all the greens. They now seem to be firming up nicely with some really positive feedback from members & visiting guests. 

It is important to continue this essential work and we believe that some very brief disruption to golfers is justified for the long term benefit to the greens and to maintain ball roll, trueness and overall playability.

One thing I was slightly miffed about was the nett 58 in last week's Fairbairn Trophy. A great score by Bill Courtney but I'm pleased his handicap was quickly reviewed. Sorry Bill, no Bandits allowed at PPGC! Maybe we need to try and trick up the greens some more to prevent any more crazy scoring!

This week, we have also continued to spot spray weeds in fairway & rough areas. It should be finished by next week so long as we have dry weather.

Our summer servicing on the mowing equipment has been completed now with the dry weather enabling us the odd hour or two to get off the course and complete oil & oil filter changes to our machines.

Also this week, we met with James Edwards, Golf Course Architect, who is preparing our golf course review for the golf club. James has many years of experience in this field of expertise and his services will prove to be of great value to the golf club in the years to come.

Have a great weekend and enjoy your golf!

Friday, 4 July 2014

Environment Agency proposed scheme

As many of you will be aware, the golf club will be working in partnership with the Environment Agency as part of a huge flood defence scheme that has been proposed for Warrington.

The work that the Environment Agency propose undertaking will centre around holes 4 & 7 with the purpose of ensuring that the housing estate to the left of hole 4 is not affected by potential future flooding.

Although this area of the golf course will be affected during the early part of 2015 (subject to planning approval), the upside is that the golf club stands to gain new tees at the 4th & 8th.

Furthermore, the golf club has now engaged the services of James Edwards, Golf Course Architect, to represent the golf club in its negotiations and discussions with the Environment Agency.

After meeting with James, the greens committee are extremely positive that he will represent the golf club in a professional and diligent manner. 

James will also be assisting the golf club to produce a working blueprint for the development of the golf course. As a result, the golf club will be able to plan more effectively future projects and identify accurate costings for these works.

These are exciting times for the golf club in what could be deemed a pivotal moment in the history of the golf club.

We encourage all members to attend the meeting on 7 July (7pm) and we hope that members can see that out of some disruption to the golf course, there are some real positives to be taken from this impending work.

Summer has arrived!

It has been great to have had some fine weather over the last few weeks. Golf in the sunshine is always more enjoyable, let's face it!

We now think that the greens are firming up nicely and are rolling well too. The comments from a range of members have been very positive and well received. We have spent many weeks double cutting the greens and they look how we want them too.

Topdressing greens next week will maintain smoothness and ball roll as well as assisting with diluting the thatch layer.

We finally finished spraying weeds on tees & surrounds this week as well as hitting some areas on fairways & roughs. 

As important as it is to keep weeds out of key areas, it is also important to remember that spraying weeds en masse can be very costly and unnecessary. I prefer to target the priority areas and leave weeds in out of play areas to remain. As the saying goes "one man's weed is another man's wildflower"!!

Let's hope that this sustained period of dry weather continues (Friday aside!) and that members can continue to enjoy great golf & maintain their sun tan!!

Have a great weekend and enjoy your golf!