After a spring with so little rain, it was inevitable that when we did get some it would be a lot, going from one extreme to another.
After having had 25 mm (1 inch) in 3 months from March through until the end of May, last week we had 86 mm (3 1/4 inches).
The course was in need of the rain though, with the short turf coming under increased stress and everything has now greened up significantly.
The downside being we were unable to treat any areas of clover. We will continue with that this week though.
Instead, we focused on the greens with work carried out as follows:
- Organic fertiliser applied – Maintains healthy turf and healthy soil.
- Wetting agent applied – Increases water retention in the soil while preventing problems such as dry patch.
- Spiking with 8 mm pencil tines, 150 mm deep – Increases air in the soil while breaking up compaction, helping to improve deeper rooting.
Although the rain was much needed, now we must respond to the extra demand placed on us with increased growth. Tees, fairways, aprons and semi are the priority although we will also be looking to cut the final areas of problematic rough.
Currently the main bone of contention amongst some of you is with the rough and we will be looking at the rough on Tuesday during the course walk, going into more detail on that particular area of the course.
Here are a few points though, regarding the rough:
- The long term plan for the rough is for it to be long, yet thin and wispy, giving definition to the holes without swallowing up balls.
- We only began the program of thinning the rough at the beginning of last season and it is very much a process that will take time. Some areas of the rough that are particularly lush, will take time to thin down and in some cases this may take several years. We are keeping on top of it but there are always likely to be areas that need our attention. It is not thick and lush deliberately!
- Some areas are already very thin and pretty much perfect, however many of these areas are affected by patches of clover. It is the clover that makes ball retrieval most difficult.
- It’s worth noting that our fairways are now some of the widest in the country, with several meters of semi and then several meters of managed rough next to that.
- Some areas of rough won’t be cut during the season though. But to find these areas you have to be a considerable distance away from the intended target. Treat them in the same way you would gorse bushes or other similar scrub and play a provisional ball. If you find it then happy days, but you shouldn’t expect to find it.
When I first arrived at Hunley, nearly all 250 acres of the site were cut with mowers. To maintain the course in that way was unrealistic and also irresponsible. We have a plan and are working towards the highest standards of golf course conditioning. We are however in the real world and this cannot be achieved over night.
If you need reassurance think back to how the course has improved over recent years:
- The greens are no longer soft and spongy and riddled with disease in the winter.
- You can putt on our aprons!
- The fairways have more grass on every year and the hedgehogs have more or less disappeared.
- Bunkers are now manageable and raked nearly every day of the week.
The rough is the next step as we look to improve the course long term, please be patient and you will be reaping the benefits of the work.
I look forward to hearing your feedback at the course walk tomorrow. We will be out with the machinery this time which should add to the experience that many of you have enjoyed in the past.