Greg’s Greenkeeping Blog February 2024

Greg’s Greenkeeping Blog February 2024

February has again seen persistent rainfall and despite overall quantities of rainfall down on the previous four months, we still only had nine dry days.

Quantities over the first weekend were so excessive that the amount of water on the course reached unprecedented levels on Sunday the 11th.

The main pond on Reddings Apron actually became so full that it burst its banks. For those of you who are familiar with this body of water, you’d be forgiven for thinking that surely isn’t possible and had I not been there to see it I would have believed so too. As the flow of water became so great, all of the ponds burst out onto the course forming rivers flowing everywhere you looked!

In my last update we looked into the impact of the last few months as well as drainage on the course, so I don’t want to focus too much on what we are all now only too familiar with.

However, if you were interested to hear about the impact the wet has had on the wider industry, here is an article by the Greenkeepers Association

Picking Up The Pieces

By the end of the month we actually had a few dry days and we have been able to spend some time tidying up the course and working on the turf in preparation for the new season.

The following areas have been badly affected:

  • Bunkers were washed out with a layer of silt needing removing from them and most if not all require some additional sand.
  • The greens, which do drain extremely well, have spent long periods of time saturated and the finer fescues look quite sad as a result. Aeration has been carried out on the greens in two operations, to help alleviate compaction and improve upon surface drainage. Moss has increased due to ideal conditions for its development.
  • Some areas of the fairways have also been saturated for so long, turf is pretty thin and in some isolated areas the soil has completely lost structure and is impossible to work currently.
  • The roads, pathways and bridleways around the course all need repairing with deep ruts and potholes the main issue. Astro turf pathways need to be cleaned where silt has accumulated.


Bunkers have now been mown round, had edges trimmed, weeds pulled and all silt removed from them and are all back in play.

Most still need some additional sand and this will be a priority in March, but for now all are at least playable.


The greens have all been aerated once, the first time using 12 mm diameter tines going down 250 mm into the soil profile. This has the maximum benefit on the soils at depth, cracking and breaking up the compaction and helping water to escape more readily.

A second pass has begun using 10 mm diameter tines to a depth of 200 mm. This again breaks and cracks the soil but at a different level in the rootzone. The small tines also help to close the larger 12 mm holes (only at the surface though), which leaves a smoother surface for putting.

This is a time consuming operation but one that will help us to maximise the playing perfomance of the greens year round.

With 225 holes made per meter squared, two passes across all of the greens results in a total of around 6,750,000 holes in total!

Once the second pass is completed, rolling and then mowing will commence along with an application of top dressing sand to refine the putting surface even further.

We are monitoring the turf’s health as the greens dry out more, but if necessary some nutrition will be applied to strengthen any areas that don’t recover naturally.

All greens have received an application of iron sulphate, which discourages the moss but also darkens the turf. This helps the turf retain any heat from the sun for longer and will encourage some early season growth.


All fairways were mown at the end of the month with the exception of the steep banks where the ground still isn’t firm enough for the machine to gain traction.

Once the soil has had a chance to properly dry out, we will begin to aerate the worst affected areas as well as the areas receiving the heaviest traffic during the winter.

Roads & Pathways

The deep rut going under the bridge has been repaired and silt has been removed from the pathways.

In March we will be cleaning up the astro turf paths, filling potholes and also the ruts that have developed on the public footpaths. 

All gravel paths will be topped up with fresh material, mostly for visual aesthetics, but also to fill any smaller holes.


Although the work on the irrigation install has dragged on, we are now close to wrapping up phase two.

All planned greens and approaches are installed and all mains pipework is in with electric cable.

All of the decoders are programmed too and set up on the controller so automated irrigation will be possible once work is complete.

Planned for March is to get sprinklers onto the new tees at Jaws and Gray’s Tor as well as a few connections to make to the older network of greens before we can prime up the system. 

To get this behind us will make an enormous difference to the time we can then put into course maintenance and daily setup for play. Also having removed 95% of the old PVC pipe, it will be almost as good as having another member of staff!


It’s a small miracle to think we head into March with not only all twenty seven holes open, but with almost all areas of the course mown and in good condition for play.

This is entirely down to the skill and effort put in by the team as we keep pushing for improvement, despite the extremely challenging conditions.

We have been beaten on most occasions by mother nature over the last few months, but I couldn’t be more delighted with the position we find ourselves in prior to the start of a new season. In the current climate, with many Greenkeepers leaving the industry, the team deserve an enormous amount of credit and I’m proud to work alongside them.

The early part of March will be used to tie up the loose ends on the irrigation installation, then the second half will be fine tuning turf condition across the course, with new flags, pins, hole cups and other course furniture also to go out.

This will coincide with a return to a full length summer course and it would be rather nice if mother nature is a little kinder to us, which would certainly be well deserved!

Many thanks for reading and we all hope you can get to enjoy the course on a more regular basis from here on!

Greg Fitzmaurice

Course Manager

[email protected]

There are 3 comments
  1. Avatar
    PAUL Jackson

    Can’t believe how hard you and your team have worked, Greg. Excellent! Couldn’t wish for a better group of ground staff!

  2. Avatar
    David Pearson

    Thank you Greg, very informative as always, congratulations to you and the team for all the work you have and continue to do in very challenging conditions.

  3. Avatar
    Ray Harker

    Played today after two weeks away and can confirm
    that there has been a really noticeable improvement and the course finally seems to be drying out. You and the team have done an amazing job on the irrigation system despite the horrendous weather we’ve had this winter.
    I’m sure we will see the course in tip top condition as we move into Spring

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