We had hoped for improved weather in November but unfortunately the wet theme has actually been worse. Also temperatures have dropped too as we see more typical winter conditions.
In October we did have a dry start and took advantage with numerous construction projects completed and in November it was our aim to make progress with the next stage of the irrigation upgrade.
This has been severely hampered though with only a handful of dry days with which to carry out work.
I often get asked how we cope during times of prolonged poor weather being a Greenkeeper. It isn’t easy for any of us, as we all are affected psychologically when the days shorten, the temperature drops and the rain becomes relentless.
Personally I cope by remaining positive, but even if you’re an optimist like me, it’s still much easier said than done.
I believe retaining a long term view is an important way of keeping positive and reminding ourselves that life isn’t always about the here and now. Life in general brings ups and downs and when you’re experiencing a down you can take comfort in knowing there will be good times again in the future.
This fact helps us to remain motivated during the tougher periods and use the time to make things better for the future. I’ve always seen each day as an opportunity to do that, so even on the worst of days, if we can at least make some sort of progress, no matter how small, then it wasn’t a wasted day.
Bad weather, as with difficult times, is inevitable, so dealing with it is a critical part of our job.
As a team we get on well with each other and have a laugh and a joke and the humble attitude of the lads makes me proud to be part of the team.
Despite the challenging weather, we have progressed with installing more of the main pipeline and cable.
The problem with the wet is two fold. Firstly with our heavy soil, which is problematic once it gets wet which means excavations need to be carried out in (at least mostly) dry conditions.
Having invested in the tools to complete all the work ourselves, we are able to install about 150 metres in one day. This is trench dug out, pipe and cable in, then backfilled and turf replaced.
This is quite achievable if the soil doesn’t get too wet, as the soil can be compacted back into the trench, retaining its structure before replacing the turf.
However if once excavated the soil gets too wet it loses its stability, becoming sticky or even sloppy and impossible to compact.
This has been more problematic as the start of both sections of main pipework cross areas of maintained turf, so needed to be completed as efficiently and precisely as possible.
The second issue is welding sections of the pipework has to be done in a completely dry environment to be successful. We have managed well but opportunities have been limited.
The constant wet has made working in general much more difficult and we’ve had to work twice as hard to complete half as much work, which is frustrating.
We’ve still managed to complete nearly 700 metres though and part of the next sections are in areas of long grass out of play. This will mean excavations won’t need to be so precise and will therefore make work much less onerous.
With less opportunity for installing pipework, we have also been preparing for the next phases of the installation, which has involved putting together valve assemblies and sprinklers and marking out sprinkler positions.
Carrying out the irrigation work obviously occupies a lot of time, however we have continued to keep up with daily maintenance and other important tasks.
The range remains popular so daily ball picking has been required. Doing this by hand and of having to dig out plugged balls makes this a slow process, so please accept our apologies for the times when the range has had to be temporarily closed for us to complete this task.
The greens are in good condition overall but some nutrition was applied in the form of Ammonia (Nitrogen), as the turf began to look a little sad and show signs of thinning.
Spiking has been carried out to alleviate surface tightness and improve percolation of water through the profile.
Growth had still been quite strong and particularly the fairways and semi had become quite long.
Most of the fairways were cut but some of the wetter ones had to be left. Semi around the greens has been mown with hand mowers, but we do hope to get back to some of the wetter areas if conditions improve.
The new pond on Morgan’s Mound has had the finishing touches applied. With it now full of water it really looks the part. We will soon be returning the green back into play too, as the new turf begins to establish.
With another 6 days of course closure in November, we can only hope for a drier December and less disruption to golf.
So far as our work, if we can complete installation of all of the main pipelines by Christmas that will be a great result and is what we’re aiming for.
As always though we’ll need to remain flexible and have other work to fall back on if things don’t go to plan A (usually plan C or D come first if we’re being honest!)
Machinery is usually serviced in the new year but we can easily bring this forward should it be necessary. Some course furniture has already been brought in for repairs and also can be completed early if needed.
We will also get out for some time together as a team socially, to celebrate another successful year and enjoy time together away from work, which is always good fun.
Although November has been another tough month, we can at least be satisfied that we have made a difference for the benefit of future times!