November has been a very difficult month as we have endured some terrible weather systems throughout. The header image is on the last day of the month and pretty much sums up the way things have been, starting badly and then going down hill.
At the beginning of the month, and with a good long term forecast, we took the opportunity to hire a dumper truck so that we could carry out the significant amount of earth moving required for the next part of the winter work program. Unfortunately, we were hit with torrential rain over night on the first Sunday of the month and then were very unfortunate to be hit by heavy localised showers for several days after that when elsewhere remained mostly dry.
Despite this we made the best of the time with the dumper and were able to move the majority of the soil we had intended to. Unfortunately things only got worse from there and we have experienced rain on a total of 24 days out of 30 during November. Obviously in the UK this is not that unusual and we just have to cope as best we can.
I’m a big believer in making progress regardless of the various challenges thrown your way and despite such a difficult month, I’m pleased to now talk about the positive progress that has been made during November.
The plan at the start of the month was to work on the teeing areas at Pennington’s which is the first hole on both the Morgan’s and Jubillee courses. We have spilt the yellow and red tees to separate locations and have began landscaping the areas immediately around them. The path leading to the tees has been rerouted as the previous one was quite steep and could at time be dangerous to negotiate. As ground conditions became too difficult and the soil too wet to work with, we had to leave the area for the time being. As soon as conditions become conducive then we will return and complete the works and hopefully that won’t be too long.
Plan B then became winter maintenance on the machinery and a focus on bunkers.
We have fully serviced all but one piece of equipment during the month, with all basic oil and filter changes carried out along with minor parts replaced where necessary. The greens mower has had new bed knives fitted and cylinders sharpened and the fairway mower is stripped down and ready for the same work in due course. We usually carry out this work in the new year but it’s very positive to be able to get ahead of the game in this department.
3 Bunkers in total have been rebuilt, this time on Morgan’s Mound and Cottage Corner and so begins a major part of our winter work over the coming months. The revetted style has certainly worked well from a practical point of view and aesthetically they look great, very much in keeping with the style of the course at Hunley.
Another area that we have started work on is with woodland management and although this only takes up a small percentage of the course at Hunley, management is still required. Removal of species such as Sycamore and Willow has begun between holes Rawcliffe and Snaith’s to allow for improved biodiversity. Biodiversity describes a variety of plant and animal life in a particular habitat, with a high level of it considered to be important and desirable.
In recent years we have steadily improved the amount of habitat available for wildlife by reducing the area of the course that is intensely managed for golf. In addition, over the last couple of years we have started to manage both the grasslands and stands of gorse and now also the woodland. The picture immediately below shows the area of Willow that has grown to dominate in this section of the course and as you can see there is little in the way of life aside from the Willow itself.
Once this area is cleared, there are some Ash trees, along with some gorse bushes that have become smothered by the willow, which will become a prominent feature of the area and quickly become surrounded with grassland once given a chance. This will then offer a range of opportunities for wildlife to return and inhabit this part of the course, with birds such as Yellow Hammer and Stonechat that like to nest and forage in the gorse and with Sky Larks and Meadow Pippets enjoying the grasslands. Ash trees are long living trees and are hugely beneficial to other species such as lichens and snails as well as providing food for birds such as Warblers and Flycatchers. There is work still to do on this area and there will be more information on this work next month.
Finally we have been proactive in reviewing our health & safety policy ahead of schedule, updating and renewing all risk assessments in a less interesting but most important part of our responsibilities.
We can only hope for an improvement in the weather conditions that will allow us to return our main focus on improving the golf course for next season. More bunkers are on the agenda as well as completing the works to Pennington’s teeing areas.
More ecology work will be carried out too and we are hoping to introduce several gorse plantations to some of the more open areas of the course.