Greg’s 100th Monthly Blog at Hunley!

Greg’s 100th Monthly Blog at Hunley!

It’s hard to believe it’s been 100 months since I joined this wonderful place and I feel very privileged to have been able to play such a big role in the evolution of the course.

Looking back, the course itself really is unrecognisable to that of 100 months ago. It’s not always been a smooth journey, with many bumps along the way, but it’s been very enjoyable and the most pleasing aspect is that we’ve always been able to continually improve this amazing facility.

In this update we’ll highlight the progress made in the last 100 months, but there is also some short films to further detail the successes.

Playing Conditions

First and foremost we set out to improve the playing surfaces, with greens the priority, then fairways, aprons and so on.

Greens

We started out with greens that required high maintenance, suffered badly with turf disease and disorders and were in good condition for 4 months of the year at best. We felt that to be successful we needed to move away from Annual meadow grass greens and transition to species that were more suitable and allow us to offer better suraces for the whole 12 months each year. In short, here’s where we are now:

  • Complete change of grass species to low maintenance, year round perennial grasses, with less than 10% annual meadow grass in the sward. 
  • No disruptive renovations are required such as hollow coring, scarifying and heavy sanding, leaving greens in good condition for play year round for golfers.
  • Difficulties with pests and diseases are still evident, however the more resilient turf has kept damage to a minimum.
  • The loss of chemicals to control pests and diseases has had a smaller impact since we stopped using these even before they were banned.
  • Reducing the negative impact on the environment has undoubtanly seen an increase in nature and there is no doubt this is helping to control pests and diseases naturally.

Fairways, aprons and surrounds 

At the beginning fairways lacked grass coverage and surfaces were covered in very coarse, almost agricultural clumps of Ryegrass and the lack of turf density also allowed Clover to dominate the turf leaving for very unsatisfactory playing conditions. This was also the case on aprons and surrounds but here’s where we are now:

  • Course clumps of Ryegrass species have been removed.
  • Thin bare turf on fairways has much improved with good density across all fairways now.
  • Improved soil structure is helping surface drainage and playing conditions year round.
  • Drainage installations to the worst affected fairways have improved winter conditions and helped recovery prior to the spring.
  • Surrounds have been increased in size creating smooth, high quality turf in close proximity to the greens where previously poor lies were common.
  • There are many more shot options around greens now and a more intersting challenge as a result.
  • Problematic clover is now under control with only spot treatments required annually. 

Bunkers 

Inititially bunkers were impossible to manage. The number of them, but more so their size, resulted in their poor appearance and playing quality. The complete overhaul of the bunkers now gives us:

  • More visually appealing bunkers.
  • Reduced size and style preventing wind blow and wash outs.
  • Easier maintenance leading to improved playing conditions.
  • More appropriate bunkers for the style of course and its location.

Rough 

  • Introduction of long roughs has created improved definition to the holes, increased Wildlife and made for a more interesting golfing experience  all round.
  • Better management of the roughs has freed up time to focus on the key playing areas.
  • Overall fuel consumption is down 30% since 2012, reducing our carbon footprint and allowing resources to be allocated elsewhere.
  • Problematic Clover has been controlled and as grasslands mature, will become less able to spread and dominate in the same way as before.

Planning

This short video explains our thinking at the beginning and gives a little insight into the reasoning behind the direction the club wanted to go and how we went about making some of the above changes.

Nature & Sustainable Management

With the drastic decline in wildlife globally, it is imperetive that we all do our bit to reverse this trend. We feel the best way to do so is by enhancing the land we manage to benefit wildlife and increase biodiversity.

The landscape around our course is dominated by urban develoments and agriculture, meaning our course offers the best place for many species to find refuge.

It is our responsibility to manage our course in the most susatinable way possible, but we have to do so without negatively impacting on the quality of the facility for the end user. Not easy but the great thing is, sustainable management is all about doing both of these things and by doing this there is benefits going both ways!

The following video highlights some of the work and successes at Hunley in recent years.

Summary

Whilst it’s great to reflect on so much success and positivity, the most exciting thing is there is so much more to come. All areas of the facility can be improved still and plans are in place to do just that, enhancing your experience and safeguarding the future of Hunley for many more months and years to come.

I’d like to thank everyone involved so far and also to the support of our membership throughout my time here.

Here’s to the future!

Greg Fitzmaurice

Course Manager

There is 1 comment
  1. Avatar
    John Reid

    Fantastic Greg
    Congratulations on your 100th blog and to all the work you and your team have done. Always enjoy your blogs, they are inspiring, keep them coming,
    All the best,
    John Reid
    Deputy Head Greenkeeper
    The Duke’s, St Andrews

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