July brings the biggest golfing month of the year, with Captain’s Day & Club Championships held at Hunley either side of the world’s oldest and biggest golf tournament, The Open.
It was a historic year for The Open this year, with it being the 150th year since its conception.
Being at St Andrews and the home of golf, always makes it extra special and having been there on several occasions, I can confirm that it really is like no other.
I’m sure many of you may also have recognised the similarities when playing at Hunley, with a natural rugged look to the course and with hard fairways and firm greens. This is golf at its absolute best and in its truest form.
It’s also a great advert for sustainable golf course management as the Links Trust who run the complex at St Andrews, manage the courses in the most sustainable manner possible.
This year was the first time that the greens were maintained using fully electric, ride on equipment and whilst we don’t all have the budget for this yet, it demonstrates their commitment to lead the industry into new times.
We are proud to follow their lead and seeing the biggest golf tournament in the world played on a course managed with the same ethos as ours, is the perfect endorsement for the work we are undertaking.
The course and conditions made for a fantastic spectacle and produced a winner in Cameron Smith, who fully deserved the Claret Jug after an outstanding performance.
The drought has continued with only 5 days in July seeing any rain falling (the same as June), in a year with already extremely low levels to date. Add to that some high temperatures and consistently strong winds, has made for extremely difficult conditions to keep turf healthy, even alive in some instances.
Having an old irrigation system isn’t helping either and although upgrades have been made in recent years, at least 10 leaks this year of varying nature have made it very challenging.
With the ageing pipework, leaks will now be common and often repairs have to be done with joins and glue. This means draining the system and leaving the repair overnight to set properly, which is time consuming and means irrigation is lost for a couple of days or in many cases longer, as we often discover a bespoke problem where parts need to be ordered.
That said the team have been doing an incredible job under the circumstances and the course was in great condition throughout the month.
A decent few showers at the end of the month have helped, but as seems to be the way these days, each comes in a deluge, meaning much is lost to run off.
Despite all the difficulties, it’s extremely satisfying to still see the course improve year on year and also to see how this can continue to be the case going forwards.
Some of the stand out positives seen this year are:
- Greens have performed consistently well, with grass species of high quality producing smooth, firm, true surfaces running at a good pace on a daily basis.
- Turf density on Fairways has come on tremendously and the new mowers are allowing us to maintain a much higher quality of cut, which has improved presentation and playing performance.
- Tee surrounds, having been left to naturalise, are much more in keeping with the rugged nature of the course, with many wildflowers becoming established too. The time saved on unnecessary mowing has resulted in more time spent on bunker maintenance, which has seen the condition and presentation of the bunkers improve dramatically from previous years.
- Rough grasslands continue to improve, with fringing roughs becoming thinner and requiring less and less management across the course. They now provide both a strong feature of the course, without being too thick to hide a ball after a wayward shot.
- Having also found an additional team member in Paul, to work on the external areas of the Clubhouse, has seen a huge improvement to both first impressions and the environment to enjoy post round food and refreshments.
It’s always important to take a step back and remind ourselves of the positive achievements. This helps us to keep perspective, remain motivated and continue to focus on the job in hand.
In the coming weeks we will be making plans for improvements during the winter months.
With a number of possibilities, but a limit on time and resources, we will need to prioritise. Any suggestions are welcome and will be considered, however further details won’t be formalised until September’s update in a couple of months time.
Hopefully more rain will materialise in August and some areas that have been struggling can begin to recover from the drought.
To help, we intend to use small amounts of soluble Urea as readily available Nitrogen to aid recovery.
The greens will receive a small dose of soluble Urea as well to maintain them through until the end of the year.
Some aeration is planned as well with micro tining on greens. This will cause little to no disruption to play but will help encourage new rooting and help water penetrate deeper into the soil.
Many thanks for your continued support and to my team for their efforts.
Please direct any feedback to my email, which is [email protected] and I’ll be happy to assist in anyway I can.