It’s hard to start February’s update without mentioning the unseasonal weather conditions. Warm sunny days have been plentiful with temperatures in the high teens consistently.
The course has been extremely busy as a result and it’s great for us to see our work benefiting so many.
Although this is likely to be further evidence of global warming, I think we can be forgiven for enjoying some good fortune with the weather for a change.
So, what have we been up to then? Here’s quick run down.
We’ve taken advantage of the fine weather by carrying out routine prep work early.
- Top dressing has been applied to all greens and new turfed areas. This fills any depressions in the turf, helping to smooth out the surface.
- Height of cut has been reduced to 5 mm for the main playing season. This is the ideal height to both offer good playing performance as well as favoring fine perennial grasses to dominate the greens.
- Wetting agent has been applied.This helps keep moisture across the greens consistent, controlling issues such as fairy ring and dry patch preventatively and also reduces the need for irrigation inputs.
- The mild winter has led to more disease pressure than usual and some fusarium is present in isolated areas. As we no longer use pesticides, it is really pleasing to see on minor turf damage. However, Sulphate of Iron has been applied to discourage further development. The fungal disease doesn’t like the acidity of the Iron and this helps to check it’s development.
As many of you will already be aware, we care deeply about the environment and work is always carried out with the impact on the environment carefully considered. Direct work to improve the ecology of the site in February has been as follows.
- The Tees Valley Wildlife Trust has installed both Owl and Kestrel boxes and will return periodically to monitor them. We have both Barn and Tawny Owls on site now as well as Kestrels so hopefully they’ll soon be in the boxes.
- 20 small bird boxes have been put up around the course and some already are being used by Blue Tits and Tree Sparrows.
- We have begun the installation of a Reed Bed to clean any contaminants from wastewater that is discharged from the greenkeeping workshop. Not only will this purify the water, but it will also create habitat for birds and invertebrates.
Servicing and machinery preparations are almost complete.
- Almost all cutting units have been sharpened and are set up to give the precision we now demand.
- All tractors have been fully serviced with engine, hydraulic and transmission oils changed as well as all filters.
- New parts required have been identified and will now be ordered to complete the winter overhaul of equipment.
- The entire workshop has been overhauled inside and out and has never been so organised.
The warm, dry weather has instigated us to open up the system earlier than expected. This isn’t a bad thing though as we will be able to spend a little more time on the remedies required to be able to better rely upon the system after last summer’s drought brought many challenges.
- Pressure had always been an issue but this has now been rectified and pressure is good to all stations.
- So far leaks are minimal and we will soon be on top of this, although once the system is primed at the start of the season there are usually a few more leaks that appear after a winter with no use.
- A pressure regulator is being fitted to the pump to avoids spikes in pressure that can cause breakages in the old pipework.
- Odd valves, decoders and wiring issues are to be looked at in March to ensure that automatic watering can be relied upon.
- Sprinklers are not ideal, but the worst have been identified and will be changed over the course of March and April.
Elsewhere things are about ready for the season.
- Newly reconstructed or built bunkers are ready to be brought into play. In March these will be cleaned up and filled with new sand.
- Summer tees are ready to be back on from the beginning of March. Turf density is very good and they have recently been aerated with deep tines.
- Fairways will be shaped and we intend to narrow some in places, after we received feedback on them from last season. The areas to be narrowed, will see a wider area of semi rough in its place. This is going to be on the sloping fairways in the hope that it will hold up a ball running towards trouble.
It’s been fabulous to see so many people out enjoying the facilities recently, long may it continue.
Should anyone have any questions regarding anything golf course related then please do get in touch [email protected]