Some welcome early signs of spring has got us all revved up for the coming golfing season. Let’s hope that March and April will not damper our moods!

It is very pleasing to see the course in such wonderful condition for the month of February. We are currently working very hard to complete our winter projects, whilst balancing the need for day-to-day course up-keep. I hope that you would all agree that we are more than meeting this tough demand.

As you are all aware, we managed to carry out our greens renovations early this year. We were fortunate to complete the work just before a bitter cold spell which was followed by substantial snow cover and then continued precipitation! I can say with certainty that if we hadn’t of carried out the renovations the cold and wet spell would have rendered our push-up construction greens to be unplayable for a longer period of time. The holes from the hollow coring aided in the surface drainage, thus greatly assisting us in getting the greens back into play.

As mentioned in my previous newsletter, the decision to carry out the early renovations was taken with a view to extending the length of your playing season. Surely it would be better to have a period of bumpy surfaces/disruption in January/ February than in March! Now that some warmer weather is upon us and without the hindrance of morning frosts, we are able to roll and mow the greens. The smoothness of the playing surface has improved considerably over the past few days.

We will see a continued improvement over the coming weeks and as we enter mid-March we will be in a prime position to put the finishing touches on the greens renovations! I can already here the alarm bells ringing!! Fear not as the disruption will be very minimal, however extremely beneficial. We will be micro-coring the greens with the rope drainage and solid tining the others. The cores are so small that we are able to blow them off the surface. This will be followed by another application of topdressing and then a spring feed. Rather than the usual three-to-five day disruption, this work will be completed in one day and the recovery will be very quick.

To put your minds at ease, we will carry out this work to the chipping green and the putting green a week or two prior to the planned renovations. You will therefore be able to see the scale of the operation and hopefully then rest easy!! I feel that it is important that I point out the fact that all the work we carry out is for your benefit. It is carefully planned and discussed in great length with the General Manager and Committee. Our soul interest is in your satisfaction and we would not carry out such laborious operations if we not deem it to be essential.

It is unfortunate that the 3rd green remains on its temporary position. The reason for the use of the temporary is not because of a waterlogged surface as the rope drainage is performing its duties. During drainage installation, tractors and road rollers were used to bed in the drainage lines. I might add that this is normal procedure for the installation. As a result of all the compaction put on the surface, we have now have an agronomic issue known as black layer! This can also be seen on the other greens that received the work but fortunately not as severe. The illustration seen below is a core sample from the 3rd green. The black layer is there for all to see. I have also added this picture to the Greenkeepers notice board.

Excessive compaction depletes the soil profile of its oxygen. This then results in anaerobic soil conditions, a build-up of hydrogen sulphide gas in the soil. This then creates a black layer within the soil profile. This layer is toxic to the grass plant. Roots will not penetrate the layer and quite often will weaken the turf sward and result in thinning of the sward. This is now particularly evident on the 3rd green. With hindsight it would have been beneficial to have hollow cored the greens after the installation of the rope drainage and not before. If we are to drain greens in the future we will do so in such a way. The 3rd green always suffers more than others due to its geographical location and the limiting air flow and light levels. We will be carrying out some valuable woodland work to the right of the 3rd green next week. This will help to increase the sunlight hours and also increase the air flow. I strongly believe that we will not encounter such problems in the future. The foundations have been laid (drainage) and with additional aeration and topdressing we can improve the top inch to two inches of the soil profile. As we move into the spring and we start to see more growth the 3rd will undoubtedly make a full recovery in time for the golfing season.

It has been brought to my attention that there are some concerns regarding the walkway from the 15th tee to the green. The turf in this area died during the extreme heat of 2018. Fortunately the pathway has not turned into a mud bath hence the reason why you have not yet been diverted! In April we will renovate the area using a verti-drain, disc-seeder, and cores from the greens renovations. When this work is being carried out and during establishment you will then be diverted. This area will make a full recovery in time for the summer.

Please further note that several areas around the course will be treated with moss killer and then seeded using the hired machinery. Most areas will recover as the grasses will naturally compete, however we will lend a helping hand.

The senior members have been extremely kind and donated a fund which will be put towards a new storm shelter adjacent to the 5th tee. There are a few trees that will need to be removed and then the area will be landscaped with a new storm shelter installed. This work is due to start in mid-March and will be completed by the end of April.

In April the irrigation system will be primed and we will then start our bunker renovation projects. Further reading on this can be found in the winter work plan.

My final discussion point is the conifer tree on the 13th hole. As I’m sure most of you are aware, the canopy has been raised, albeit a little higher than we had planned, please note that we will be growing the rough grasses underneath the tree. Golf balls will be easily retrieved; however there will not be an easy shot to the green.

So once again let’s keep our fingers crossed for a pleasant spring and as always I look forward to seeing you all out on the course.

Warm Regards

Christopher Ball

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