January has been a difficult month again. 25 out of the 31 days were wet days which included snow and ice, making life tough going all the way through.
That said we have continued as best we can working through the winter programme and also had a good couple of days at the Harrogate Show known as BTME (BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition).
With the ice and snow, many days have been spent clearing snow off the roads and car parks as well as gritting and ensuring access to and from the facilities have been as safe as possible for all our staff and customers.
Course closures have been a plenty and the driving range has been a real challenge, even just collecting the balls in. As it has been too wet for the tractor, hand picking has been necessary all month, on occasions the snow has prevented any ball picking and with the range being so wet balls been plugged into the mud requiring digging out with screwdrivers.
Our sheds have been thoroughly cleared out as we made room for a new machine in the form of a Greens roller. We managed to acquire this from the United States and this has become another great addition to our fleet of used machinery.
With the difficult current economic climate, coupled with the fact new machinery is so expensive, we have had to find alternative options when sourcing the equipment we need over the years. Although tough to find, good used machinery is available and with lots of patience and with good contacts, the right machinery can be found.
In recent years we have managed to improve our fleet of machinery to allow us to carry out course maintenance to a high standard. Greens rollers are now a fairly standard tool used in greenkeeping and this latest addition will allow us to improve the smoothness and trueness of the greens, further enhancing the quality of the putting surfaces.
At the end of the month we did get a couple of dry days in a row with some wind, allowing us to finally carry on with the improvements to the first tee areas on Pennington’s. This had been started way back in November, but with such a long period of inclement weather, the project has been on hold until ground conditions again became suitable. With a couple of Winter projects still requiring completion, no new projects will begin until these are finished, however we do hope to have everything tied up by the end of February. With the project on the 1st tee being one of the largest this winter, a good bit of our time is still needed to get this project completed but with a few dry days we have been able to make good progress, advancing the project near to completion.
A couple more bunkers have been revetted by Pennington’s green and Gray’s Tor respectively and we have continued with cutting back areas of overgrown leggy gorse.
BTME (BIGGA Turf Managers Exhibition)
BIGGA (British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association) organise an annual event know as BTME, based in Harrogate for the benefit of turf managers across Europe.
BTME features over 250 hours of education including the Turf Managers’ Conference, over 100 exhibitors showcasing the latest products and innovations plus unrivalled networking opportunities. Last year’s exhibition saw nearly 9,000 turf managers, golf club owners, managers and industry decision-makers pack into the Harrogate Convention Centre.
Our team attended some of the available seminars for educational purposes as did I. An important part of continued professional development, it’s an important time of the year to attend this event and gain as much from it as possible for the whole team.
This year I actually gave a couple of short presentations with regards to the R&A scholarship program and I was honoured to be asked to do this by the R & A on their behalf. Having benefited from the programme over the last 7 years it was nice to be able to do something in return and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
There was also a nice surprise whilst walking around the show, as on the BIGGA stand promoting ecology on the golf course was a lovely photo of our very own venue! Our work on the course regarding ecology is something we are very proud of and seeing the picture at such an event was a real nice fillip for us, after what has been a difficult and depressing month at times.
Projects on the first tee at Pennington’s and also bunker work on Morgan’s Mound will be completed in February providing sufficient windows in the weather are presented to us.
We will be taking delivery of 1,200 gorse plants too and these will be going out in February. Some will be used as part of the first tee project on Pennington’s but also on other more open sections of the course to improve biodiversity.
After that it will be time to begin priming the course for the playing season which will soon to be upon us. Definition will begin to return, surfaces will improve and with the days beginning to lengthen in daylight, there is plenty to look forward to as we look to put an extremely challenging winter behind us.
This Week’s Update – 5/2/18
With a slightly better week last week, with some dry days in between some heavy showers, we made really good progress on the first tee areas on Pennington’s.
Mounding around the two tees was completed and turfed using some of our best grasses. These areas will be allowed to grow long and wispy to provide a natural yet attractive surround to the teeing areas. Rootzone was used to level the teeing areas with turf from doves Fairway used for the Tees themselves.
This week we shall be looking to finish the other side of the pathway where some wispy turf will be laid, however a large part of the area that is currently bare soil, will be prepared in spring and seeded with wildflower. Higher up the bank Gorse will be planted in place of the old pathway to break up the area and offer more in the way of nesting sites for some of our resident Birds.
The path itself is still quite steep at the start, therefore we will be installing some steps at the steepest point, to make it easier to get down to the first tees with less risk of slipping. The path will be finished with a top coat of grit sand and gravel to finish off the area in a neat and tidy fashion.
Today we had the STRI carrying out winter testing on the greens with infiltration rates, firmness and moisture content taken on the day and samples collected for testing back in a laboratory for levels of organic matter. A report will be put together by Adam Newton, our agronomist for viewing in due course.
Also this week we have begun deep tine aeration on the greens. This involves 12 mm diameter tines spiking to a depth of around 10 inches. This is the main form of aeration on the greens carried out once a year, in order to relieve compaction, encourage deeper rooting and aid overall drainage of the green service. This will however result in slightly uneven surfaces for a time, but this is very much a case of short-term pain for long-term gain, with the benefits of aeration being seen with long-term healthy putting surfaces in use all year round.
On the plus side though, with some dry weather we will be able to immediately roll the greens after the aeration, to reduce the impact of the work from a playing point of view. This will help bring smoothness back to the greens much quicker than in the past. We have carried out the work on the spare 9 first while, they are currently out of play, but will likely be moving on to the main course at some point this week.
That’s all from me for now see you around the course all the best