The first month of 2020 hasn’t been too eventful, certainly in regards to the weather, with a mixture of both wet and dry spells throughout the month. It has been on the milder side though and this does present conditions more condusive to fungal diseases breaking out within the turf.
However, as the turf has become dominated by fine perenial grasses in recent years, the impact and incidence of turf disease has reduced. It is also now 3 years since any fungicides have been used which is further evidence of the turf’s improved health.
In previous years there was still some disease activity through high pressure periods, but the fact we have yet to see any turf disease at all this winter, really demonstartes the success our management practices have had on the quality of playing surfaces.
Through the month we have had a nice mixture of project work, routine maintenance and continued professional development.
With a drainage issue between Wetlands and Reddings Apron still causing some localised flooding on the 2 holes, we ended up having to take more drastic action to solve the problem.
A large clay drain was almost completely blocked with tree roots that we couldn’t get at to clear and we had also tried to divert the water into a new drain installed on Reddings Apron fairway. Even then the volume of water was too great for the new drain to cope.
Therefore Willow trees around the ponds edge causing the blockage were removed and we had to excavate a large open ditch to expose the blocked section of pipe and allow the water to flow into the new ditch and away. This has now had the desired effect, although it required quite a bit of earth moving to do so.
We have planted around 20 Hawthorn trees and also intend to add some gorse, with the rest of the area to be seeded with fine grasses and wildflowers.
The area has been marked with black stakes to indicate the area as GUR and this will be the case until it has fully established.
All course furniture is being either tidied up or renewed. In January all distance markers have been repositioned and all 150 yard posts have been painted.
We have had a few issues in the past with golfers unsure of measured points, with some measured to the front and some to the middle of the green. As a result we have moved all markers to measure to the middle of the green, removing any confusion going forwards.
Every January we attend BTME, which is a Turf Management Exhibition held in Harrogate.
Although it is a chance to see all the latest equipment available to the industry, it is more about the educational seminars and workshops, as well as a great opportunity to connect with other Greenkeepers and industry experts across all fields.
The event was very beneficial to all the staff with plenty taken from the 2 days we visited.
After the show we also had a days training on machinery maintenance. As time has passed we have become more and more self sufficient in managing the golf course and ongoing training plays a big part in that. Jim Whitton from Golf & Grounds Machinery Solutions came to deliver an excellent day on maintaining and carrying out repairs to our cutting cylinders.
Although there is very little we can’t do ourselves, we do have to call in engineers from time to time when we come across an issue we can’t solve. With our new skills developed from only 1 days training though, this will be the case even less in the future.
On the course itself, we have had some drier conditions than previous months and as a result have been carrying out a few tasks earlier than expected.
Greens continue to be cut weekly but we were also able to give the aprons and surrounds a cut which has cleaned them up nicely.
Usually the driving range is a big of a problem for us, as it is the wettest part of the whole site, however it dried up enough for us to get out and give it a full cut which made a huge difference to it’s presentation and the ease of collecting up the balls.
Bunkers have also been getting some routine maintenance with edging, strimming and mowing taking place where required, then all have been checked for sand levels before being topped if needed.
We will continue much in the same way as we have in January, with a mixture of preparing for the season, maintaining turf conditions for day to day play and also (if time and the weather allows) we may carry out one or two smaller projects.
Overall though everything is in good order and things look very positive going into the 2020 golf season!