Dear Members

With a relatively benign winter behind us, and now the closure of spring, I hope that you are all looking forward to the upcoming golfing season.

 As always the Greens staff are extremely busy and now that the winter projects are complete we will be even busier preparing the golf course for the main playing season!

 I hope you would all agree that winter projects have been a major success. The woodland work on the 3rd, 7th and 8th has most certainly given the course a managed and tidy appearance. The woodland work will also help with agronomic issues, such as with the 3rd green. Last but not least, the woodland management practices are beneficial for the ecology and conservation of our course. We are lucky to have a close working relationship with the BBOWT who have helped us significantly when deciding upon the correct management practices to be adopted.

 Please cast your eye over the Greenkeepers’ notice board. For those who are unaware it is situated outside the men’s changing room. There is information from the BBOWT regarding bird species and flora that has been observed and now documented from our course.

 Other projects undertaken have been the construction of a new storm shelter in-between the 5th and the 7th holes. The full renovation of the 15th bunker which includes new user friendly steps has been successful; however this does now highlight the poor condition of many of our other bunkers. We have also introduced new steps into various bunkers. The crumbling bank on the path leading to the 17th green has also been secured. All of this good work, which is carried out in conjunction with our daily routine work, is some achievement. We are very lucky to have such a hardworking and highly skilled team.

 It is very pleasing to now see the 3rd green has almost fully recovered. I appreciate that this period must have been somewhat frustrating for you. Please now try to appreciate how frustrated I have been! The 3rd green has historically had agronomic problems, aside from a full reconstruction that comes at some cost and closes the hole for a long period of time. We took an informed decision to carry out a drainage project that would make the previously unplayable greens that have plagued us throughout previous winter periods playable. There can be no denying that this has been a success as the 4th, 7th, 12th, and 15th greens have only been on their temporary positions for frost, not for water logging!! It is unfortunate that the 3rd green suffered but not necessarily surprising! In main the problem is the existing soil profile. This is coupled with the geographical location and lack of sunlight/air flow. As mentioned in my previous newsletter, the heavy machinery used to bed in the drainage has caused compaction of the surface, resulting in the formation of severe black layer which then resulted in the thinning of the turf. The recovery has been slower than I would have liked and up until very recently the night time temperatures have been cool and we have had very little rain which has resulted in a slow recovery. If we now bear in mind the aforementioned restricting factors of the 3rd green, it is of little surprise that we have encountered problems. I am confident that the recent problems will not reoccur as we have now laid the foundations (effective drainage) to help ensure that we do not have such severe problems.  It is vital that we carry out extra aeration work and increase the sand content of the soil profile. Breaking up the compaction of the soil profile is paramount and we will endeavour to find ways of achieving this. We will continue to thin out the woodland in this area as increased sunlight is vital for healthy turf and will undoubtedly help to dramatically reduce the severity of such problems.

 So to finish on the subject of the recent drainage work I would like to provide you with what I think is an appropriate parallelism. The greens in question have undergone surgery and as with nearly all surgery, it is likely that there will be bruising and a recovery period. I don’t know of anybody that came out of surgery and was then asked to run a marathon!

 As we now approach the end of May we are focused on presenting the course to the highest of standards and providing you all with the finest quality playing surfaces. I hope you would all agree the course is now playing and looking wonderful; however please feel free to put on your dancing shoes and do a rain dance as the areas of the golf course that are not covered by irrigation are desperate for rain. There are many areas within the rough that are struggling. Unfortunately unless we get some prolonged precipitation we will continue to see these areas struggle.

 I’m sure that many of you observant folk have noticed that we have some weeds popping up around the course. Please rest assured we will be applying our weed killers at the next earliest opportunity. Another observation, hard to miss, would be the seeding that is now present on the greens. As of next week we will begin our verti-cutting and brushing in an effort to remove the seed heads.

 So that’s probably enough from me! I’d like to wish all of those playing in the Fairhurst and the Platt Cup the very best of luck and of course the best of luck for all the summer competitions.

 Warm Regards

 Christopher Ball

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