The new year has started with more of the same in terms of work, with a couple of important additions too.
A few more bunkers have been constructed, further sections of gorse have been cut back, we’ve been mowing key areas on the course, annual reviews of health & safety have been carried out and at the end of the month we had the first of our 2 annual visits from the STRI (Sports Turf Research Institute).
Bunker work has been on Trillo’s Torment and Toon’s Tier and has seen the first revetted bunkers built. On Trillo’s Torment we have now created 2 pot bunkers, where before there had been one large bunker (see picture left before and picture right after). The new bunkers will catch wayward shots just as the previous bunker did, the difference with a much smaller sand area, means reduced maintenance from washed out and wind blown sand as well as being more in keeping with the style of course here.
On Toon’s Tier we made some alterations to the green back in October last year, so revetting the greenside bunker has been the finish touch to the developments made on that hole (see middle picture below)
I will now, again outline the reason for the changes being made to the bunkers. The condition of the bunkers here at Hunley have never been to the standard that we would like for a number of reasons and 4 years ago we put in a plan for improvement.
The problems were as follows –
- Most bunkers were frequently flooded, with many taking several days to drain off. This led to an enormous effort from the Greenkeepers to get them back in play, often only for them to again become flooded.
- Too many bunkers, all with large sand areas. 4 years ago there were 82 bunkers, they were also very large and as a result the resources required to maintain them was also large.
- Some bunkers poorly positioned. Some of the bunkers were in areas that were too penal (such as the 1 in front of Fox Covert green, penalising a straight shot!), some have been too close to the tee (eg, on Short’s Elbow, with 2 less than 170 from the tee) and some of them really too far from play to have any strategic value (eg, on Boulby View).
So what have we been doing to improve the situation?
- First we began to remodel them to divert water away, preventing wash out and flooding from occurring.
- Then drainage has either been repaired or added, so to remove water quickly when they do become flooded.
- Several bunkers have been removed to reduce their number to more manageable levels. There are now currently 63.
- The sand area has been reduced. Catchment area for balls is still about the same though, with the ground around the bunkers landscaped to feed a misguided shot into the sand.
What does this mean?
- We will have top quality bunkers in good condition on a daily basis.
- Less bunkers, with less sand, washing out less and flooding less, will mean they can be raked more, checked for sand more and weeded more. Meaning their condition can and will only get better.
So finally how will they look, as they are a distinctly different style now as before?
- The best way to demonstrate this is with pictures (see below), but the new style resembles bunkers found on traditional courses and in particular seaside links. The previous style was more artificial and in the style of American courses such as Augusta.
The first picture here (left) of Metcalfes Ace, demonstrates the style of fairway bunker now at Hunley and the picture (below right) is of the new bunker on Toon’s, which represents how our green side bunkers now look. The old style large bunkers were more like the one in the picture (below left) at Augusta National and this picture perfectly demonstrates how labour intesive they are to maintain.
Greens and approaches have been mown by hand and despite the time of year, growth is still there and we will continue to keep these areas cut in the coming weeks to maintain good playing qualities.
Gorse has been cut back in a few areas, notably between Wetlands and Reddings Aprons and also between Guibel and Rawcliffe. This will allow the gorse to regenerate and create stronger healthier bushes in the future.
Health & Safety is a vitally important aspect of our profession with many potential risks involved when carrying out our day to day tasks. During January all risk assessments and COSHH assessments are reviewed and updated, with areas for extra training identified and scheduled in. We look to take every measure to ensure the safety of our team and the general public and reviewing our policy is crucial in order to do so.
Finally at the end of the month Adam Newton visited to carry out testing on the greens. Adam is an Agronomist from the STRI and the testing along with his feedback helps us to formalise our maintenance plan for the course.
Organic matter content, water infiltration rates, soil ph, soil fertility and the greens firmness are the areas tested and results will be returned to us within a week or two.
Adam Newton from the STRI seen here recording data onto his device from recent testing and also samples from one of our greens to be taken away for analysis in a laboratory.