Friday, 10 November 2017

A cooler start to November

Greetings pop pickers.

We are now over a week into November and at last we are starting to experience some sustained dry weather. It has only taken 4 months (the last full dry week before October end was June!!). Joking aside, the weather since July has been truly abysmal and I was starting to wonder whether the golf course would ever dry out. 

So a few things to catch up on then since the last blog...

Greens are looking okay heading into winter. We finally got some recovery following the autumn coring and scarifying. As it was so wet and cool in September, the recovery took forever. However, the greens are finally drying out (with the exception of the 9th - a perpetual headache) and going into winter, they look fairly decent. We will try to get a really light dressing to them over the next week or so.

I did see Ronnie Minshull with a wry look on his face this week as we topdressed the putting green! The issue we had with some greens was that because it was so wet in September, we never managed to topdress the greens and drag in DRY sand. So we couldn't top up all the holes created from the hollow coring. Hence some greens just need a wee bit more. The sand will also help to protect the plant against winter play too (the abrasiveness of the sand should mitigate against spike marks and general foot traffic, particularly when rain is thrown into the mix). Ronnie knows this anyway - and with him being a demon putter, he actually dreams of playing on freshly top dressed greens.

As is normally the case these days, more trees have been felled following the latest round of chainsaw training on site. And as is normally the case, when the trees have been felled, logged and collected, it doesn't look like anything has been done! Such is the quantity of trees in certain areas on the golf course, a few removed here and there barely scratches the surface.

However, in some areas (such as between the 1st and 2nd, above top), we really are making great progress. This area is now much improved and can now start to support some maturing trees that will develop correctly. It also continues to remove our leaves burden - a task I find so demoralising and unproductive. I would much rather be carrying out course improvements than dealing with leaves. But, deal with them we will and I hope they will all be fallen soon.

Many thanks to Tom Frame and John Newns for installing a permanent mat behind the 5th tee. This will serve both 5 and 14 in the winter. Well done fellas, it looks great!

Recently, we took an opportunity to dig a soakaway in the middle of the 9th green. It presented a chance to work on this problematic green whilst it was closed for play. The top photo shows the base of the green after removing a sand improved rooting layer. Unfortunately, once this was removed, we hit a really wet, compacted heavy clay soil. Not the sort of soil that will drain well or quickly nor will support good root growth.

In saying that, the photo above at least demonstrates that roots will grow through a verti drain hole. Punching holes in greens, despite the complaints of golfers, does actually draw many benefits. But 12 inches down, we found gravel (unfortunately capped off by clay and then gravel covering another layer of clay. This is probably (and I'm sticking my neck out here) why the green floods during really heavy rain. The water just sits on the surface because the drainage rate is so poor. The photo below shows just how wet it can sit.

With that in mind, the soakaway was filled with a thin layer of grit before we added 6-8 inches of a sandy root zone (similar to our divot mix). This should at least drain better than what was previously  here and provide us with a starting area on which we can expand this work further into the green. It is by no means a quick solution nor a long term solution. However, the alternative is to do nothing and that is in no way proactive.

We also started something similar at the back of the 8th green. You don't need to see the gory details of the soil below this green to realise why this doesn't drain. I'll give you a clue though; it's a bit like the 9th! 

All we can do is adopt a piecemeal approach to these 2 greens. There is simply not the budget available to do anything bigger or more drastic with either the 8th or 9th green. The compromise is that, during heavy rain, they puddle/flood and we go to a temporary green. Enough said.

Have a great week and (weather permitting) enjoy your golf.