August again saw high precipitation levels, with only a fraction under the rainfall seen in July. This has presented the main challenge for the team over the last month.
The courses ability to recover fortunately meant disruption was brief, aside from a few flooded bunkers that took a little longer to drain after each deluge. The main challenge has been with the increased growth caused by the warm, wet conditions throughout the month.
The team have been doing there best to keep things under control, with good results on the whole and overall the course is still performing well.
The extra rainfall is certainly beneficial to the health of the turf. Being on the East Coast of England, we generally don’t see significant rainfall during the summer months, with keeping turf healthy usually more of a challenge due to a lack of moisture.
This hasn’t been the case this summer, with well above average rainfall so far and as you can see from the pictures the course is unusually green!
Alas, unfortunately in this job there isn’t an ideal scenario though. Although the rain has greatly improved turf density and overall health, growth has subsequently being strong and difficult to keep on top of.
Greens are in good condition but do need a feed going into autumn. We applied more than the usual quantities of nutrition early in spring to cope with pest damage, but this has at least sustained the turf throughout the season. Early applications of Nitrogen through Ammonia (7.5kg per hectare) and Urea (12.5kg per hectare) in March and April respectively have enabled us to maintain good surfaces through the season.
There are signs of weakening now though so another application of Ammonia (5kg per hectare) should provide the turf with enough to sustain sufficient density for the remainder of the golfing season before winter.
Tees are generally fine, with a few exceptions looking a little sorry for themselves. Most of these are the smaller tees that have struggled since levels of play have increased in the last couple of years.
We have plans to increase the size of some tees in the near future, as well as reposition some, but more information will be provided on this at the end of September.
Fairways have never been better and have certainly benefited from the extra moisture. It has been more difficult to present them well due to the excessive growth, but the team have put in the extra effort to cope and thanks to Dave Smelt for his time helping with the fairways.
Bunkers haven’t always been at their best on a daily basis due to the heavy rain washing out and compacting the sand. Although reinstating the bunkers after each deluge isn’t the task it used to be, the regularity of the downpours have made it more difficult. Thanks to the team for their persistence though and I hope the few occasions where the bunkers weren’t great, hasn’t ditracted from your game too much.
Fringing rough has become quite thick in the bottom, which is no surprise with conditions for growth ideal.
Cutting and collecting has already started, which wil make recovery shots from these areas a little easier. Although the grass here is thicker, it’s not very long so it shouldn’t take more than a week or two to get all the fringing rough cut. There are a few other areas needing attention too that we can’t get at with the heavy machinery. These will be tended to by hand and may take a little longer to complete, however these are few and far between so please bear with us.
The driving range has been the hardest area to keep abreast of though. Being on the poorest soil and dominated by Ryegrass, the driving range grows much more rapidly than anywhere on the course and is difficult to mow if not completely dry.
This then makes ball collection more difficult as the machine doesn’t pick the balls well when the grass is long. The range is also now very popular, which is obviously fantastic to see, but we are now having to pick balls every day to ensure there are enough for use.
All of these problems do add up and when conditions aren’t ideal it does put our resources under pressure. All the staff have done a fantastic job under the circumstances but it is difficult to maintain everything to the high standard we desire under such circumstances.
In the close season we will be assessing how the season has gone and where adjustments can be made to overcome any issues and look to raise standards again.
As always we have a plan for the winter months to make improvements to the facilities. There will be a complete breakdown of this in next months update, however with some work beginning at the start of October I will give some information on that work now.
2 years ago working with the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust we created a series of Wetlands between the holes on Davy’s and Cottage Corner. Funding was available for land owners in the area to create habitat for the benefit of Great Crested Newts.
Such was the success of this project, with Newt DNA found in the wetlands almost immediately and with the transformation of a very bland part of our course into an attractive feature, we have collaborated again to add another wetland on the course.
This will be to the left of the teeing area on Wetlands and the left of the green on Morgan’s Mound.
Many of you will be aware that this is an area that sits wet in the winter months already and its proximity to the Wetlands created in 2021 will likely facilitate existing Great Crested Newts spreading into the new wetland quickly.
The securing of this project has also created an opportunity for us to develop one of the biggest problem holes on the course.
Morgan’s Mound green is notoriously difficult to approach, even from the ideal spot on the fairway. With the green being raised from the fairway, on a plateau and being only 260 square metres in size, makes finding the green in regulation an extremely rare occurrence.
To help give perspective, the famous ‘Postage Stamp’ green at Royal Troon Golf Club is around 30% larger than Morgan’s Mound green. You’re also faced with a shorter, easier approach shot which is played from above!
Using the soil excavated from the new wetland, we will bank up the left hand side of Morgan’s Mound green which will allow us to extend the green to the left.
The left surround will then be reshaped to leave any shots missing left with a tricky recovery, but the wider green will be far more accessible from the fairway.
We have always tried to focus our efforts on projects that offer multiple benefits in the past and work in October will provide several with:
- A new wetland adding an attractive feature
- Plenty of soil to build an extension to Morgan’s Mound green
- Help move excess water away from playing areas resulting in improved winter playing conditions
- Increasing nature onsite in the short, medium and long term
Along with more irrigation installations, this will make up the bulk of our winter work, however more detail will be given in a month’s time on plans for close season improvemnts.
Any questions please get in touch by emailing [email protected] but that’s all for this month. Thanks for reading and let’s hope for some nice weather to make up for what we’ve had so far!!