Dear Members

With the first month of 2022 out of the way we can now look forward to spring. We have been extremely fortunate to have had such a dry January, however; as I’m sure you are all aware, the months of February and March can often be unpleasant. With a bit of luck we will continue to have favourable conditions that will allow us to keep the course in its current fantastic condition.

As always the Greenkeeping team are working extremely hard and our winter work projects are going very well. The woodland management at the rear of the 3rd and in between the 6th & 7th are now complete. We will soon have the left of the 9th tee complete also. The remaining projects will be the refurbishment of our mess room and the reconstruction of the 17th pot bunker and 18th tee. The tree/hedge line on the 8th will be further cleared to help speed up play. To do this we will require a digger. When the digger is on site we also need to revisit the two wet pockets which are on the 5th and the 8th. Our recently installed drainage systems are working however; we have what we think are natural springs that need to be drained.

I have been approached by a few members with some queries on the rationale for the recent woodland management. There are several reasons why we carry out such work. I am a firm believer that woodland management enhances the aesthetics of a golf course. Opening up vistas around the course can add to the overall enjoyment of the sport. The topography of our land is quite stunning and in select areas it should be visible. The rear of the 3rd is one of our main areas for bluebells. By clearing the scrub and also storm blown trees we have opened up the woodland floor which will now receive more daylight thus enhancing the magnificent floral display in spring. Another important factor behind this work is the greens drainage. You may have observed that the ditch has been re-dug. This ditch carries the drainage water from the 3rd green so it is therefore vital that this is kept clear. The 6th woodland has been thinned for similar reasons. I think the area now looks stunning as prior to our work it can only be described as an overgrown mess. Again the ditch system has been re-instated which is always important when trying to move water to the desired outlets. The woodland floor will regenerate and it is likely that we see some native flora emerge. With the aid of our ventrac machine we plan to keep the woodland floor cut so that the area remains visually appealing. The ecology and conservation of our site is high on our agenda and woodland management is a high priority. The common misconception is that cutting down trees or scrub is bad for the environment. This is not true however; careful consideration must be given to the work. Selective thinning will be of benefit to the healthy mature trees that can now be seen. As previously mentioned the woodland floor will now receive more daylight which will encourage beneficial ground cover which in turn is a habitat for wildlife. With all this said it is paramount that not all woodland is managed as we need to have a variety of different habitats. Habitats such as managed woodland, unmanaged woodland, grassland, and heathland will add to the biodiversity of our landscape. Another advantage of thinning is that we now have areas that can be under planted with native species. Under planting will ensure that Newbury & Crookham has healthy specimen trees for years to come. As mentioned in my winter projects document the woodland management on the 9th is purely agronomic. The tee suffers from severe shading and often sits very wet. We need to increase the light and airflow to the tee. The Rhododendron will flourish again as they respond well to cutting.

Once our winter work is complete there will be no rest as we will then be undertaking the greens’ renovations. I will communicate this is more detail nearer the time.

Well I think that’s probably enough from me. I hope you are all enjoying our wonderful course and as always I look forward to seeing you out on the course.

Warm regards

Christopher Ball

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