As promised this month’s blog will focus on our plans for the winter months, but before that a quick review of September.
Obviously September will be marked in all our memories due to the passing our Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. We held our own tribute on the day of her funeral with members coming to the club to mark their respects together with staff. We also planted a tree to commemorate her incredible life and service and to the way she set an example to us all with her humility, self control and selfless duty to our country. Wether you’re a Royalist or not, we can all take something from the way she conducted herself as an individual.
Despite another good month of weather for golf, seeing many, many more rounds played on the course, we have finally received some decent rainfall.
In fact, September has been the wettest this year so far with 78 mm falling in total, which still isn’t huge amounts, with the wettest month in 2021 seeing 135mm.
It’s also good to see UK trends for comparison too, with the wettest place in the UK being Capel Curig in Wales. Average rainfall for them in December is a crazy 309mm, with the UK average being 120mm for the same month.
This shows us to be one of the drier parts of the UK however, Shoeburyness in Essex is classed as the driest part of the UK, with their wettest month on average only being a measly 47mm!
With some decent rainfall, our maintenance of the course has been more straightforward and routine. Course condition has been excellent and feedback from golfers has been consistently very positive.
The only work outside of routine has been that we have lightly top dressed the greens to fill any imperfections to maintain smoothness.
We also spent a couple of days rectifying 1 of the remaining problem bunkers (below images). This was on Trillo’s Torment which had been prone to flooding.
Some re-contouring will now divert the flow of water away from the bunker and at the same time the shape of the bunker has made for a natural looking hazard more inkeeping with the rest of the course.
A perhaps less extensive program of work is planned this winter, mostly because the first two in the list below are going to occupy much of our time in the coming months.
As discussed previously, we are going to be making major alterations to this tee as a solution to it’s many limitations.
For more details you can see my August Blog here – https://www.hunleygolf.co.uk/gregs-greenkeeping-blog-august-2022/
Again see my August Blog (link above)for further detail, but the upgrading of the irrigation system will be the most extensive part of our winter work. Most of this work will be completed by us, but with assistance from an irrigation technician.
Drainage on the whole is pretty effective, however there are small areas that would benefit from some additional drainage.
The left of Davy’s green and the back of Wetlands would be the most likely to receive attention this winter.
Although the majority of the bunkers have now been upgraded, their are still a few that are to be remodelled. We have already completed such work on Trillo’s Torment due to it’s previous drainage issue, but any others are more likely to be altered in regard to how they impact upon the playing strategy of the course.
A good example being the fairway bunker on Redding’s Apron, which is a severe penalty to those finding it, but which isn’t typically in play for the more competent golfer. That said, some thought is required to decide upon any changes that may or may not be made here.
One thing we are going to introduce to the course going forward are more grass bunkers. These can be multifunctional and will firstly be positioned to create a hazard for play, such as to the side of a fairway making an approach to the green more difficult, but not so difficult to advance the ball up the fairway in the same way a sand bunker might. Equally, grass bunkers around the greens can provide a different hazard and also provide a variety of shot options for recovery.
In additon the grass bunkers are much more starightforward from a maintenance point and can also be made into excellent drainage points for us to utilise and improve the resilience of the course to flooding.
Despite the particularly dry year, not too much turf has been lost, however there are places that will require turf repair due to loss of grass coverage.
With new turf being provisionally ordered for the tee on Pennington’s, some extra turf will be needed to carry out such repairs and has been accounted for.
There are still a few locations on the course that are difficult to mow with machinery where the ground is uneven. This creates extra work required to be done by hand or in some cases where machinery can catch the ground causing marks to the turf.
Lifting turf and adding rootzone will enable us to smooth these out before replacing turf, meaning going forwards turf condition will improve as well as removing the need for extra maintenance.
With a large amount of scrub inhabiting the course, we always look to manage this as best as we can.
Gorse, Buckthorn, Blackthorn and Hawthorn are the most typical species and need to be managed for optimum benefit. Below you can see some Gorse that has reached the end of it’s life and is in need of attention.
Where possible we will tackle the areas most in need and this will most likely happen when weather conditions prevent work elsewhere.
Gorse will be cut back and allowed to regenerate, the Buckthorn and Blackthorn spread quite rapidly and need to be cut back annually to prevent them taking over.
Hedgerows, mostly made up of Hawthorn will be cut to maintain their density and newly planted hedgerows have survived the dry summer but will need some attention to give them the best chance to develop.
The woodlands on the whole don’t need too much intervention, with the most work being required to continue to control the invasive Poplar species (see below picture).
Ash dieback, caused by the fungus Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, is affecting many of the trees at Hunley. Although we can largely do nothing about this, it is hoped that letting nature take its course will see some of the trees develop immunity and in the long term see some Ash trees survive the disease.
The usual maintenance will be carried out through the winter in order to prepare the equipment for the rigours of the growing season.
Servicing the machines and sharpening cutting units takes up most of this and on the whole we now have a very effective fleet of equipment.
The new, more powerful tractor has already shown it’s worth in managing the rough, which is undoubtedly in it’s best condition since management began several years ago.
We currently have a very good team of enthusiastic and conscientious individuals doing a great job, even though they are still a little inexperienced.
Such is our situation we have always had to bring in people at the start of their careers and help develop them into accomplished Greenkeepers. This has so far been successful and the winter period will give time for the team to learn and gain more experience.
Their ongoing training will be a significant part in the continued improvement of the golf course and Gavin and myself will do our best to provide them with as much support as possible.
Much of the training will be practical in nature, but we will pass on our knowledge and use other techniques to help further their abilities.
1 of which will be to visit other clubs, where the standards are of the highest order, where the aim is to show the team what is possible and to give them a comparison also to our course, hearing from other industry experts in the process.
There are a couple of areas for us to deal with that I haven’t mentioned and probably the most significant of those is the site of the old green on Rawcliffe.
With some gravel and decent top soil still to be recovered, this will be used to provide resources to some of the projects already mentioned above. Once they are depleted, the site will be properly cleared and then planted up with native species.
The areas around the buildings still need attention and Paul will be doing so on an ongoing basis throughout the winter. We will keep you updated on the specifics as we move through the winter, but for now Paul will continue to keep things as tidy as possible.
Thanks for taking time to read these updates and please do get in touch if you wish.
Please direct any feedback to my email, which is [email protected] and I’ll be happy to assist in any way I can.