The weather this year has really presented some challenges so far. Nothing new there then!
Opening at the end of March, we were all ready to welcome everybody back with some course improvements and hoping for a decent April. The traditional April showers never materialised. Moreover, we experienced more frosts in April 2021 than in the previous 6 months combined! I think our weather chart showed approximately 18 days with a frost.
Added to that, we had no rain either. Growth was next to zero for the month. The drainage works on the 1st fairway had been executed fairly successfully but in order to get recovery, warm soil temperatures and moisture are essential for growth and, in particular, seed germination. Frosts do not encourage seed germination at all.
May gave back what April took away in the form of moisture. The rains truly arrived in May, only for June to be a month of drought. July has delivered some (much needed) respite from hand watering of our tees and surrounds. Extremes of weather are definitely in evidence this year.
These are a selection of the contractors with their drainage equipment. The original idea was to excavate the existing drainage laterals across the fairway and to refill with clean gravel and root zone. Unfortunately, this hit a snag and so we had to revert to plan B which was to supplement the existing drainage with completely new laterals. Whilst ground conditions were far from ideal, the club decided to proceed with this work whilst the course was closed. It was as successful as can be and, in time, will prove to be the correct decision.
We also completed the green side bunker on the 2nd hole. New bunker sand has also been installed on both green side bunkers on the 3rd hole as well as both practice bunkers by the chipping green.
The greens were scarified, verti-cut and top-dressed in February. It made perfect sense to do this then and ensure that members didn't have to endure any disruption to the greens surfaces in April. That the weather was cold and frosty in April meant that, weather wise, it turned out to be a wise decision. Expecting any sort of recovery from scarifying in frosty weather would have been impossible.
Work continues on our greens surround run-off areas. This is a process of fertilising, regular low mowing, verti cutting and top-dressing. The process is continuous and doesn't really end. It's not a one-off task like building a conservatory extension on a house. We're dealing with grasses and soils - living, evolving things that are subject to weather, foot traffic and machinery. So we are constantly working on them to refine them so that they become firmer, more refined and enable a range of recovery shots to be played off them - be that a wedge, putter or chip 'n' run. The aim is to enable the golfer a choice of shot.
Essentially, we are taking our greens maintenance practices out into the surround and the approach. It is a time consuming process but hopefully one that golfers will benefit from in terms of experiencing improving course conditions.
We are also fertilising our fairways, albeit slowly, this year. The idea is to provide them with a small amount of nutrition to enable the finer grasses to compete more with some of the coarser rye grass and to improve the density of the playing surface. Then we can refine the coarser grasses with some scarifying and verti-cutting. Again, this is a process and is not a quick fix. We feel that the fairways are now developing really well and the fertilising has provided members with better surfaces on the 2nd and 6th. Last week, I fertilised the 5th and 9th fairways so hopefully, these will start to thicken up in the next few weeks. We intend to do the remaining fairways in September after they have been scarified.
Ok, that is all for now and I wish you all continued enjoyment out on the golf course.
Enjoy your golf!