Greg’s Greenkeeping Blog April 2024

Greg’s Greenkeeping Blog April 2024

After six months of extremely wet conditions, we were hoping finally for a change in April. Unfortunately we ended up having a month with more rainfall than any of the previous six. Whilst the amount of rainfall was an obvious challenge, it was more the fact that only five out of the thirty days were dry days and three of those were when competitions were held, meaning finding any opportunity to complete desired work was impossible.

Although most work can still be carried out in the wet, there are some tasks that need it to be dry for work to be most effective or even possible at all.

Also parts of the course are still wet and soft, leading to the course playing very long, especially with the cold temperatures as well.

Although cold, soil temperature are slowly increasing. This has led to a bit more growth, which is a good thing as the course recovers from winter wear.

Best Wishes Ryan

At the beginning of the month Ryan Chapman went in for a knee replacement and we were pleased to hear that the operation went smoothly for him. He has a lengthy period of recovery now before he will be able to return to work and we all wish him well as he undergoes his recuperation.

Course Maintenance

We have managed to get all areas on the golf course cut often enough to maintain presentation of the playing surfaces, even though areas have been more troublesome to get onto with machinery. Some hand mowing has been necessary in isolated areas and at times tyre marks have shown up on fairways as we’ve tried to keep on top of things in less than ideal conditions.

I suppose the most pleasing aspect of this prolonged wet period is that it has demonstrated the success of our drainage work over a number of years. In March we avoided any course closures and in the wettest of all the past seven months (April) only succumbed to a closure on five occasions.


We did struggle to get the bunkers up to scratch as the regular downpours meant we had to keep repairing the damage over and over.

Bunkers have been washed out on a regular basis

Typically once we did get them all completed and in good condition, an inch of rain fell in five hours at the end of the month, meaning we have it all to do again as we move into May!


We’ve been pleased to hear the greens are still playing well, as we would have liked to have got some top dressing on them sooner than we did. The reason for this has again come down to a lack of opportunity to carry out the work. 

In order to get the optimum results, the sand needs to be able to dry before it is brushed in. However, with virtually no available days like this we ended up doing it in wetter than ideal conditions. 

This is highly unusual for us but in the end it was the only option and at least the work is now complete and we can focus more time on daily setup for play.

Greens have now been top dressed

Driving Range

The one area where we have been most impacted is on the driving range. Hand picking started back in October and the team have done an incredible job keeping the range operational throughout the winter, spending hours each day trudging across a sodden outfield, unplugging and picking balls for what now has been a full seven months.

With so much work to do on the courses though, we had to close the driving range for a few days because we simply weren’t able to complete necessary work to the course while spending hours picking balls as well.

What made it worse is the range field is the wettest area anywhere on the site and we weren’t able to get onto the field with any machinery in that time.

Now that the grass is actively growing it has got to the point where we couldn’t even locate the balls, let alone collect them in.

We had hoped that by April we would at least be back to collecting balls with the tractor and being able to mow the grass, but this didn’t materialise and we have lost a large number of balls on the field.

The range grass had become too long to find balls

We always replenish the range with new balls in time for the start of spring and at the beginning of March we had a stock of 9,000 balls in the hopper. This dropped down to below 3,000, less balls than would be hit on an average day and with all these factors conspiring at once it became impossible for us.

As a last resort we treated the field with glyphosate, a total weed killer that would normally kill off the grass. However, sprayed at a lower rate the grass should recover in time but as it dies back we will at least have a chance of retrieving many of the balls that are currently plugged and hidden. This is a pretty extreme approach, but as we ran out of options we felt that this will give us the best chance of operating the range again for everyone to use in the shortest time frame.

The range has returned to normal service again, after we managed to top the grass after growth began to stunt. It certainly isn’t going to be straightforward in the short term for us to keep it that way though, but although we keep saying it, only a few dry days are needed for things to be more manageable. Let’s hope that finally turns out.


It’s hard to look too far ahead still with how things have been, but we are at least now close to normal service resuming if we do get a dry period. 

It’s also quite ironic that with almost an entirely new irrigation system, we still haven’t even got to test it out!

This though will be required in May, even if only to wash the monthly application of wetting agents into the playing surfaces.

It will be very satisfying when we can finally see the fruits of our labour and watch a far more effective system in operation.

On the last day of April we began Cutting and collecting some areas of fringing rough. Normally we wouldn’t need to consider this until early June, but some areas are a bit thicker due to another consequence of the rainfall.

With a number of old drains running under the course, fertiliser applied to the adjacent farmland has leached through onto areas of the course, leading to lush thick areas of growth in patches.

Unfortunately there is little we can do about this except to respond to the issue, but we will have them taken care of in due course.

Gray’s New Tee

Finally the new tee on Gray’s is now in play. It is important that when approaching the tee, you wait until the group in front has played their tee shots on Walker’s Gully before you go up onto the teeing ground for safety. A sign has been positioned for you to wait beside until it is safe to go on to the tee.

As always please do get in touch with any questions. My email is [email protected]

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