Greens renovations which involved hollow coring and over 30 tons of sand dressing being applied was successfully completed and the greens are now returning to some normality, thank you for your patience during this essential maintenance work.
Height of cut on the greens has been lowered to 4mm and will be reduced further in the coming weeks to 3mm (summer height) for the remainder of the season. Comprehensive information on cutting heights and cutting regimes can be found on my previous report that can be accessed on the clubs website under heading "Course News".
This week we have hired a cherry picker to pollard the Leylandii trees alongside the 1st tee to improve light and air circulation. This tee suffers from sitting in constant shade weakening growth for the tee to recover.
Trees adjacent to the 16th tee were also reduced for the same reasons of improving light and air circulation.
Cores from our renovation works were applied to the new chipping green, once established the cores will form the surface of the green replicating native greens on the course.
After only 10 days green shoots started to appear on the surface of the green. To help sward density still further seed will be sown followed by several heavy sand dressings to smooth any imperfections.
I have yet to put a date on completion as the growing in process is very much weather dependent, but I am hopeful we can be open by August.
A bunker filling programme is currently ongoing and we are replenishing sand to the bunkers that most need topping up.
The 2nd fairway bunkers are some of our newest bunkers and sadly our worst, due to poor construction. These bunkers were built in 2012 by outside contractors and at that time I was very critical of their work especially the material that was used to construct the bunker complex. On behalf of the club a report was commissioned from The Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI), an independent organisation to appraise the work.
The report was critical of the design and choice of material stating - "Regardless of outcome of further soil testing what can be concluded without doubt is that the soil was a poor choice for this particular use and the stone content will cause ongoing difficulties for maintenance"
The design and construction methods were also questioned - "The bunker has been poorly designed/ constructed and there is a duty of care from the consultant/contractor to put this right and any other bunkers suffering the same problem"
For structural reasons beyond my control this report was not acted upon, and as predicated the bunkers never improved and only got worse due to the stones coming through the sand.
The bunkers have now declined to such a degree that we are now forced to act, and a programme of works will be carried out to improve them.
Rather than continuing to 'throw good money after bad' we have decided to look for a longer-term solution and we are working on a full plan and schedule. Work will include reshaping and filling parts of the bunkers to make them more maintenance friendly. Stones will be dealt with by capping them with either upside down turf or a heavy clay soil to reduce further contamination in the future.
The timing of this work is not ideal as we prepare for the coming season, so this work will be ongoing throughout the summer/autumn to reduce disruption to our course maintenance programme.
On a more positive note the 9th greenside bunker that was made a deeper and front face more defined has now been filled with sand and is back in play. The bunker looks great and other bunkers needing similar work will be considered for improvement.
Thanks to money raised from the 200 Club tree fund we have booked in a large tree spade for one day to transplant a number of mature trees on the fringes of the course to more prominent positions between the 9th and 10th fairways. The trees include 3 large pines that will help create a copse that will enhance the dog leg on the 9th hole, and add visual interest to this area. Work will start on Monday 29th April.
Spring renovations on the tees have recently been carried out, work included aeration, scarification and a granular fertiliser being applied. Over-seeding and divoting will be carried out once soil temperatures are sufficient for seed to germinate.
The silt pile from the pond clearance work has finally dried out sufficiently enough for it to be landscaped. Seed will now be sown next week to turn this area back to grass. This will conclude the pond clearance project which was hugely successful and has enhanced the 13th Hole.