The new year started with almost 2 weeks of heavy rain without even a single dry day, making January this year wetter than any month we had experienced throughout the whole of 2015. Up to this point we had been very lucky avoiding the worst of the weather, but the continuous rain caused flooding on the course, with many of the ponds bursting their banks (see below picture). Fortunately, once the rain did stop for a couple of days, the course improved quickly and we have been back to a minimum of 18 holes available for the rest of the month.
With the weather limiting what we could do out on the course, time was spent working on the machinery and on administration, getting us up to date with these.
Even though areas of the course weren’t accessible, we were able to get to the back of the green on Cottage Corner and remove some of the trees that were close to the green. This green is the weakest on the course so far as agronomic performance and by allowing more airflow and extra sunlight to reach the green, this will significantly improve the health of the turf as a result.
The wet weather did unearth a couple of problems with drainage which we had to find a solution to. On the right of Jaws we had an old land drain blocked which had to be excavated and replacement pipe installed. Also water running out of the adjacent fields on Huncliffe, had been flooding the approach to the green. We used the digger to excavate a shallow ditch down the left hand side of the hole boundary, to divert the water behind the green to an area out of play.
Nearer the end of the month we were able to get onto the course and pay some much needed attention to the greens. A mixture of aeration, mowing and an application of iron sulphate all combine to improve the health of the turf and ultimately then the playing surface itself. The following video should give a good insight into the processes followed, helping to maintain good quality turf.
Every member of the team played a part in the works seen in the video with David Jones operating the slitter on the blue tractor, Stuart Bint on the Toro Procore deep spiking, Anthony Piggins mowing greens, James Keeling mowing greens collars and approaches, Anthony Coulson moving the holes and myself applying iron sulphate with the boom sprayer.
Regarding the team, we are sorry to be losing a key member of the group in David Jones. He has been with us for 2 years and in that time has helped significantly with the progression of the course during his time. For a variety of personal reasons David needed to move on and I’m pleased he has found employment at another fantastic golf course at Southport & Ainsdale GC. We will miss him, but wish him well in his future career.
The STRI also visited, carrying out testing on the greens. Percolation rates, moisture content and firmness measurements were recorded and samples were also taken from the greens and will be tested in a laboratory for percentage of organic matter in the turf. We will receive the results in February and this will help us to finalise our turf maintenance for the year ahead.
We have begun work clearing out scrub willow on the holes Clark’s Brook and Doves and this will continue in February. There are some mature trees running along a stream and both the trees and the stream have become smothered by the willow. Once cleared the stream will again become a feature of the holes, while improving visibility from the tee and also turf quality to the surrounding areas.
We could also potentially renovate another bunker if conditions remain favourable. If so it is likely to be the green side bunkers on Warsett, which suffer badly with wash out after heavy rain.