Friday, 4 August 2017

The cooler months of summer

As we head into August, we can reflect on a couple of quite wet months; June and July. Rainfall records show that June was easily the wettest month of the year so far. July was third wettest after March. 

So the heady days of May have been replaced by cooler, wetter days. This week, in particular, has been almost Autumn like. Winds and rain have provided a challenging week. However, there has been a noticeable slowdown in growth, understandably so, given the cooler days and nights. Casting worms have been really active too - the 4th fairway, normally quite wet and fertile, has been hammered by worm activity this week.

Greens are now looking smoother with the poa having stopped seeding. You will notice some anthracnose disease has hit the poa in places. We will overseed these areas with bent grass seed to hopefully fill in any minor gaps (replacing poor quality grass - poa, with something significantly better - bent).

Complete Weed Control were recently hired to spray fairways and roughs with a selective herbicide. The weeds are now dead, evident from the 2 examples above of dandelion and plantain. The cost of weed control is quite high due to the quantity of product required to cover the whole golf course. However, this operation will ultimately prevent weeds from regenerating in greater quantities in future years.

It has been nice to spruce up the fairway yardage discs with a well needed jet wash. These products are made from recycled plastic and as such will never rot or break easily. Keeping them clean and trimmed up enhances the golf course. A new set of tee signs has updated our course furniture and is long overdue. They look really sharp and modern. Thanks to John Newns and Tom Frame for their efforts in siting the new tee signs. Some more sponsors should help to repay the investment.

Elsewhere, Mark has been prominent in the woodland with more chainsaw training. Continued attention to woodland areas is now bearing fruit. Areas that never had grass growth before are now beginning to pick up. In addition, close examination of this essential work shows that the careful selection of trees to be removed has in fact created more space for other trees to flourish. The removal of trees is considered and Mark's expertise in identifying rotten or dying trees helps the golf club to meet the requirements of the Course Masterplan.

We continue to mow fairways with grass boxes to remove clippings (and reduce nutrient from the soil) so that the fairways stay shorter for longer. This work that started 3 years ago is now starting to click. We are now in the position where certain fairways are growing much slower and this will reduce the need to mow fairways so regularly. Mowing is a big expense - diesel, labour, cylinder re-grinding and replacement of machinery parts are all a considerable burden on the course maintenance budget.

We have also purchased a trailed spring tine harrow to help us address dense growth in fairways and roughs. The idea is that the harrow will help to thin out these areas by removing unwanted thatch from the surface. In time, fairways and roughs should start to improve further in regards to playability. We hope that any balls landing in rough shouldn't sit down too much. Broadleaf grasses will also be discouraged. With the removal of thatch, these areas should also firm up more and hold less surface water in inclement weather.

Well done to James for some stellar tees and approach mowing. He is proud of his stripes and loves mowing these areas, particularly with the brush on the mower. "They look much cleaner and tighter" is his usual remark. Nice to hear!

A small project has seen the weeds sprayed and trimmed down on the bank by the 15th tee. The views of these 2 adjacent holes are really good. However, maintaining a huge bank like this is just not practical due to the severity of the slopes involved.

This whole teeing area ultimately needs to be redeveloped in the future. It would really make a huge statement for the tees at holes 6 and 15 to be modernised. In their current state, they are not capable of being maintained effectively. The 6th tee, for a par 3 that gets hammered by divots, is way too small. It can never recover from wear because there is not enough room to allow divoted areas to recover.

The 15th tee has similar issues. The encroachment of trees and the hawthorn hedge to the left of the path renders the left side of this tee unusable (in the same way as the 7th, 8th, 14th and 16th tees. Look closely at the wear (divot) patterns and this tells you everything about the limitations of the aforementioned tees.

Hopefully in the future, funds will be available to make more efficient use of the current 15th tee site. It would make this hole an outstanding par 3 and allow a redeveloped tee complex to be maintained much more easily.

I thought it would be nice to sign off with a lovely photo of my daughter Violet. She's an absolute beauty and is doing really well.

Have a great weekend and enjoy your golf!