Dear members

As we now approach spring, I think we can all safely assume that fairer weather is on the horizon. I will try not to babble on too much about the weather, however; I feel that it is important that I mention the past and current challenges that we have all had to endure. The unprecedented precipitation of late 2023 up until now has resulted in many/frequent playing restrictions. Gareth and myself have tried our utmost to provide the membership and visitors with at least part of the golf course to play.

Statistically we have been open more than many other courses. This is in main due to the restrictions, such as trolley and buggy bans. The decision to implement such restrictions is never easy and is always with a heavy heart. During wet and/or cold weather conditions coupled with poor ground conditions we carry out a risk assessment each day. This results in the issue of the daily course status communications. With regards any course restrictions, our thought process looks at the following and in this order:-
1. Is the course playable, if not, is part of the course playable.
2. The personal safety of all golfers.
3. Protecting the course from excessive damage.

The restrictions that we have imposed has allowed the course to remain open when others have not! I fully appreciate that this may be of little condolence to the many that rely on such aides to play. I know that many of you are frustrated, but please note that other golf courses and sports venues have all had to juggle with this kind of decision making. The positive is that the golf course remains in good condition. By this I refer to the minimal wear and tear. I hope you would all agree that the greens have remained very good. Even under such extreme conditions we have not had to use temporary greens for water logging. Historically we have relied on the use of temporary greens throughout the winter period, sometimes having up to nine greens out of play!

Naturally id like to credit the hard work of the green keeping team for such advances, however: I feel compelled to mention and thank the past and current committee members for their commitment to investing in modern sports-turf drainage systems. The hydro-wick drainage systems that has been installed to many of our greens, has enabled us to continue their use, even throughout the most extreme conditions. This really has been a game changer for the golf club.

We are obviously aware of the current course drainage problems and we do not intend to allow these problems to persist. As previously mentioned in my course work plan, we will be draining the 4th approach and also the pocket of saturated land on the right of the 5th hole. This work will commence in August when ground conditions are suitable for such work. Other areas, namely the 12th, 13th, 14th, and 18th are all in our long term plan. We hope to alleviate these drainage issues over the next two to three years. It is our desire to provide you with a playable course all year round and therefore, reducing the need for winter restrictions. We would like to thank you all for your patience and understanding.

In order to continually produce the highest standard of putting surfaces, we must carry out renovations. Greens renovations are carried out twice a year. Spring and late summer/autumn. Our spring renovations will commence on Monday 11th March and will take near on the full week to complete. In a slight break of tradition, this spring we will be micro-coring the greens rather than the usual 12mm hollow tines! Micro-coring is far less disruptive and will enable us to carry out a renovation without damaging the surrounding areas. The decision to change the renovation process is in main due to the uncertainty of the weather. If conditions are not favorable we might struggle to achieve the desired results. The micro-coring is a very good compromise in these challenging circumstances. With that said, we will be looking to carry out the usual 12mm hollow coring on the 2nd,6th, 8th & 9th greens. I feel that it is important to incorporate more sand into the profiles of these select greens. During the process it will be necessary to use temporary greens. It is not possible to accurately inform you as to how many temps will be in use as this will change through the course of the days and week. If we are lucky and the frosts stay away then I expect the recovery to be relatively quick. We have already applied our spring fertiliser to the greens which will help to accelerate the healing process.
It is absolutely vital that we carry out this work. The long term health and playability of our greens depends upon it. The rational behind the work is to relieve compaction, reduce organic matter, encourage healthy rooting systems, and to create a free draining soil profile. All of this is essential when trying to achieve true and fast golf greens. This work must be carried out twice a year at minimum. The renovation programs that we have in place, have played a pivotal role in the progression of our greens and without doubt, will put us in good stead for the coming season.
Once again, thanks to you all for your patience and understanding. I think we are all looking forward to the coming season and I look forward to seeing you all on the course.

Warm Regards

Christopher Ball

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