The weather has been kind in recent weeks with higher seasonal temperatures and more importantly very little rain.
This window of opportunity has allowed us to cut most of the course to restore definition and for other projects to be completed.
Area adjacent to the 12th green has been cleared removing dead trees, holly and brambles that choked this area leaving a very untidy appearance.
In the spring we plan to sow seeds containing wild flowers and grasses to enhance this area with interest and colour.
Other clearance projects involved clearing the verges of brambles, most noticeably on the 3rd 6th and 12th holes using a flail mower. This machine was secured by Christopher Elsden, our most recently appointed qualified greenkeeper, from his father at no charge, saving the club £300 in hire fees.
Christopher carried out this work and did a great job clearing these overgrown areas. Now the brambles have been removed grass will be encouraged to grow which will improve the appearance of these areas that were previously not so high on our priority list. We now have a greater manpower resource following Christopher's formal appointment last year and also our introduction of a structured Course Policy Document, which has enabled us to concentrate on some of the more aesthetic enhancements to the course.
Selected paths that were in need of being tidied up were scraped clean, edged and new path material laid to improve their appearance.
The new path material only went so far so we did try to pick the neediest for attention, all other paths will be edged and cleaned.
Short game area (Practice field)
Construction to the teeing area is almost complete apart from the turfing, which will be carried out in the spring
The concrete bases for the mats are finished and ready for them to be installed prior to this area being open in August.
Planting around the tee with Shrubs is ongoing and is being supplied by plants from other locations around the course and donations.
The 5th green is one of our wettest greens and is in need of drainage which is planned for the autumn.
The other issue is lack of light which is caused by large trees in close vicinity to the green that cast shade for most of the day.
Behind the green sits a very tall Pine, Laurel and Leylandii trees that block out sunlight resulting in the green remaining frozen for many days after frost, and very wet after rain. During a recent cold snap this green was forced to close as a thick layer of ice remained for a number of days making the green unplayable and a danger to golfers.
Unfortunately the large Pine tree and Laurels are not on our land and cannot be reduced without prior approval from the land owner, but we can prune back overhanging branches affecting our side.
This work has recently been carried out which will reduce the drip line from the branches and allow better air circulation which are both factors to why the turf struggles at the rear of the green.
To improve the health of the green still further we have removed the very tall Leylandii trees that cast shade on the green for most of the afternoon.
This work will undoubtedly improve the green and stop any further hole closures.
18th Medal Tee (Championship tee)
Due to the size and location of this tee grass coverage suffered last summer, which was due to lack of light to the surface of the tee.
We are restricted to what we can do as T.P.Os govern the reduction or removal of any trees in that area.
However the tee will be levelled and re-turfed and should be in much better condition for the coming season.
Tee will be back in play for Charity Day (May)
All tees have been aerated to break up compaction and to help surfaces breathe after a busy winter.
Tees have also been given a light cut to clean the surfaces and improve their appearance.
Granular fertiliser will be applied in March, this will encourage growth to help the repair process after winter play.
Work is ongoing to restore edges especially to the backs of the bunkers where erosion occurs due mainly to poor raking.
To help keep the edges defined and sand evenly distributed I do urge members to rake the sand forward not backwards to help the bunkers remain in good order.
Bunkers that need more sand will be topped up in the spring.
The greens have wintered very well and are in good condition with very little disease.
Greens are cut/rolled at least once a week at a cutting height of 5.5mm, this will be lowered gradually over the spring period until we reach our summer height of cut of 3mm.
Greens renovation this spring will commence on the 18th March and will involve the greens being hollow cored followed by a heavy sand dressing.
Hollow coring is the practice of removing a core then filling the hole with sand to dilute organic matter and aid drainage.
This work is very beneficial but also very disruptive and surfaces will be affected for a number of days until the green recovers.
Once the cores are removed they will be recycled and used to grow the surface of the new chipping green, this technique has been used on other projects and is a great way of growing grass for free.
Regular updates of this work and other related projects can be found on our Facebook page Bush Hill Park GC Greenkeeping.