Greg’s Greenkeeping Blog December 2018

Greg’s Greenkeeping Blog December 2018

2018 has been quite unique, going from one incredible extreme to another in weather conditions, although the final part of the year has been more settled.

Up until mid April we only got through 24 hours on 3 occasions without rainfall, followed by 3 months of intense heat and drought. It seems to become more of a challenge year on year with such extremes of weather becoming more the norm. With the last 4 years being said to be the warmest on record globally, we all have to now accept that climate change is very much a reality.

As many of you will already be aware, we are extremely conscious of our responsibilities when managing the land here at Hunley, with zero use of both insecticides and fungicides as well as extremely low irrigation requirements.
Alterations to the way the course is managed has significantly lowered our carbon footprint with large areas of the course now left alone for nature.
Going forwards we will need to continue to look to improve upon our day to day operations in order to remain sustainable in an ever changing world.

2018 Review


Despite the challenge, it’s been another successful year, here’s a look back over the last 12 months.
January is when the British Turf Management Exhibition (BTME) is held at Harrogate and we were proud to see our very own course featured on the British International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) Ecology stand.
February saw the beginning of the ‘Beast from the East’ which stayed with us for several weeks delaying the start of the golfing season and making course preparations almost impossible.
When the course did reopen, new revetted bunkers were brought into play and 2018 was the first season where the future look of the course was more evident.
There was also quite a change in our team with 2 experienced members moving on and needing to be replaced. Gavin Kitching and Jack Dobbing have both come on in leaps and bounds since joining with their contributions being significant to the years success. With a settled team now things look very positive for the future as the course gets ever nearer to the standard we all want.
Rough manage-ment continues to be bearing fruit with continued improvement in both the texture and species content.
Wildflower areas were introduced with great success too, with not only attractive colors on show but also increased food for pollinating insects.
This came nicely in time for our first resident bee hives donated from a local enthusiast who also cares for them. Such initiatives are vital if we are to do our bit to protect the environment both locally and globally.
High temperatures and drought then became the norm for around 3 months, which saw record numbers of rounds played on the courses. Much of our work centered on the irrigation system during this period as we battled to keep the turf alive, particularly on the greens. Fortunately for us, work over recent years has seen the percentage of more drought tolerant grass species increase and this definitely was a huge factor in maintaining high quality playing conditions throughout those months.
Towards the end of the season work began on the construction of a new green for the hole known as Rawcliffe, which is on both the Morgan’s and Jubilee courses. With the construction work completed in house and along side normal course maintenance, it wasn’t until mid October that work was completed. However, we are very happy with the end result and with grass now covering the area, we hope to bring it into play during the 2019 season at some point.
This brings us to rather exciting times, with the last 6 years seeing significant changes to the course, changes to Rawcliffe leave us with only minor changes to undertake over the next couple of years.
There are still 9 bunkers to change to the revetted style, but otherwise future works will only be of a subtle nature here and there. This is exciting because we will now be able to focus so much more time to the finer detail of the course and in particular, turf condition. Although turf condition has improved dramatically in recent years, construction work undertaken during that time has occupied a large percentage of our resources. With the bulk of that work now behind us, the next couple of years will see us hope to begin to bring course conditioning up to the standard of some of the best courses in the country.
The year ended with our first ever Wildlife Walk, with the hope to spread awareness to the wider public of the importance of Hunley to the local and wider environment. Ian Kendal from the Land Trust joined myself to highlight the different habitats on the course, some of the species that can be seen and also what is needed to protect and enhance this in the future. Going forwards we shall host another event and also intend to start other initiatives with the intention of improving the local and wider environment.



Looking to the new year ahead, most of our time will focus on both our equipment and on the course ecology work.

Just as important as having the course laid out as we want it, is the portfolio of equipment required for us to maintain it. 2018 saw us add a greens roller, additional tractor and specialist sprayer to our fleet. Before the start of the season all mowers will be sharpened and every piece of machinery fully serviced. This will then give us the peace of mind to carry out our maintenance throughout the playing season in a routine fashion.

As already explained, a huge factor in the beauty of Hunley is the vast array of diverse wildlife on show. It is not only our responsibility to protect it, but it is also to our great benefit. Management of the scrubland, woodland and ponds on the course will be carried out early, prior to spring.

Despite an awful start, all in all 2018 was a good year, here’s hoping for a great 2019!

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