As we get closer to the golfing season, our winter work starts drawing to a close and we now look forward to, and plan our maintenance programmes for the summer.
The winter has been kind compared to other years with only five course closures, three of which were due to snow.
In February we saw temperatures reach 20 degrees with very little rain, but more seasonal conditions have returned with a very wet start to March that has seen over 60 mm of rain.
The course overall and in particular the greens have wintered extremely well with very little disease, resulting in excellent grass coverage.
Greens renovation week will commence on the 18th of March and will consist of hollow coring the greens followed by a heavy sand dressing.
Hollow coring is a process of removing a core and filling the cavity with straight sand, this reduces organic matter and encourages the free movement of moisture from the surface.
This work can be disruptive and the greens will be affected for several days after the works are complete, however this operation is vital for the long term health of the greens.
All the surfaces across the golf course have individual maintenance programmes that we work to throughout the season.
These work programmes are as follows:
April - October
Cut daily (Triple mower)
Green renovation weeks (March & August)
Granular fertiliser applied (Spring & Autumn)
Liquid feeds applied weekly.
Wetting agent applied monthly.
Verti-cut fortnightly (May, June) Monthly (July-September)
Disease and pest control when required.
Top dressed monthly (100 tons annually)
Greens speed will be targeted at 9-9.5 for regular play and 10-10.5 for major tournaments.
Cut twice weekly.
Top dressed monthly
Aerated every 4-6 weeks.
Granular fertilizer applied monthly.
Aprons and Approaches
Cut twice weekly.
Liquid fertiliser applied fortnightly.
Cut twice weekly.
Scarified in the Spring to reduce moss.
Herbicide/Insecticide when required.
Heights of cut
Heights of cuts are not set in stone and are adjusted throughout the season to react to competitions, weather conditions and growth patterns.
Our cutting height guidelines are as follows:
Greens: 2.8-3.5mm. (Winter 5.5mm)
Aprons and Approaches: 12-15mm.
The good weather and high temperatures we experienced in February allowed a window of opportunity to cut the entire course and apply a sand dressing to the greens, which in late February is very rare.
Pollarding trees behind 5th green has been hugely successful allowing more light and air circulation to this green that was starved of these important elements.
The green now basks in sunlight during the afternoon, which will improve growth in the summer and help the green to dry and thaw out much quicker in the winter.
Short game area
Good progress continues to be made to the new short game area on the practice field. Recent works has seen the green surrounds and tee being turfed, which has helped define these areas.
Cores from our maintenance week will brought to the site and used to grass the surface of the green. These cores will be grown in over the summer, once established area will be open for play.
Some of you might have noticed the Conifer tree adjacent to the putting green has been removed. This was due the tree outgrowing its surroundings which started to damage the putting green.
Shading from the tree and invasive roots stifled growth to that section of the green leaving bare areas visible during the summer.
Area has now been turfed and returned to apron.
The silt pile from the pond clearance is drying out slowly and has settled naturally over the last few months. We have started the process of landscaping the silt although there are still areas that are too soft for the digger.
After landscaping seed will be sown returning the area to grass and back in play very soon after.
Annually we hire a cherry picker to assist in our tree management, particularly when physically climbing a tree is not an option.
In the coming weeks we will be using this machine to allow us to pollard the tall Leylandii trees adjacent to the 1st tee and the trees alongside the 16th tee.
Both locations suffer again from lack of light and air circulation resulting in stunted growth to both tees
This work was carried out several years ago to very good effect and I am expecting the same results this time round.
This Spring we will once again be sowing wild flowers and grasses that were such a success behind the 5th tee last year.
Other locations have been identified for this burst of colour and I would like to thank Roger Archibald who has donated packets of wild flower seeds for us to sow with our own mix.
We look forward to seeing the results.