Although the start to the year has been more akin to winter, it has still been kind enough for us to continue with our work and even if we stopped our winter program now, it will easily have been the most productive in the 6 years I’ve been at the club. It comes as a complete contrast to last year, when it was difficult to even get onto the course and really highlights how we are in the hands of Mother Nature.
That said, great credit goes to the team. Their enthusiasm, hard work and camaraderie is a real joy to be part of and the enhancement of the course over the last year is a reflection as much on them as anything else.
WINTER PROGRAM CONTINUES
The month started with completion of work that was held up before Christmas while our turf cutter was repaired.
Re-bunkering on Rawcliffe and a new revetted bunker on Fox were finished and now await to be brought into play nearer the seasons start.
A large part of the month turned very cold, so being unable to work on the turf allowed us some time to turn our hand to ecological improvements.
An area of undergrowth between Morgan’s Mound and Wetlands was desperately in need of attention. Many species were competing for the same space and preventing anything from growing well. The main problem was with Poplar trees that were beginning to take over (you can see the picture below which shows before and after, with so many saplings in such a small space). Specimen trees that remain, Gorse, bramble and rough grasslands will now be able to flourish, although further maintenance will be required to prevent the return of Poplar saplings.
Before clearance behind our Wildlife walk in December
Clearance completed in January
After that we carried out aeration work to the greens. Deep spiking has been completed with long thin tines going to a depth of approximately 10 inches. As the machine punches the holes it also heaves the ground breaking up the soil beneath the turf. This creates new space for roots to grow, water to percolate down into and relieve compaction within the soil.
The greens were then rolled after spiking and also hand mown, leaving the surfaces in reasonable playing condition despite the work.
Turf health is extremely good considering the long mild winter so far being ideal for turf disease. Although there has been signs of disease across the course, no significant damage has occurred which is a sign of the turfs increased resilience.
In October we overseeded with Fescue and the new seedlings are doing well also. Using a technique called ‘Pot Planting’ is the most effective way of establishing new plants, in what has to be said, a far from ideal environment.
By only partially filling the holes created for the seed, the new plants are effectively living in a little protected ‘cave’, where they get chance to establish root systems for several months before they are subject to the rigours of a busy golfing season.
The British Turf Management Exhibition (BTME) is held every January at the Harrogate Convention Centre and is a feast of education for all turf professionals as well as a showcase of all the latest equipment.
The whole team spent 2 days in Harrogate attending seminars on a variety of subjects and we all benefited from the continued Professional development.
There was a personal highlight also for myself, as I was awarded a Gold Badge by the R&A for contributions to their Scholarship Program. The R&A Scholarship Program is a fantastic initiative and gives great opportunities to aspiring Greenkeepers to further themselves in the industry. I have been lucky enough to benefit from this and it was a real honor to receive recognition for something that I have been thrilled just to be part of.
My sincere thanks to the R&A for their continued support.
We’ve begun sharpening the cylinders for the fairway machine and this will be completed in Feb along with both greens and tees mowers.
500 Gorse plants are also on the way and will be planted around the course to bolster stands already in place.