Course Conditions – The weather has dominated events for several months now. Initially the start of winter was relatively warm but very wet after which we progressed through a very cold and equally wet transition into spring. It is only 4 weeks ago I played in full winter attire including a woolly hat facing rain and temperatures around 7 degrees and again last Thursday Dave arrived at work to find the course white over from a late spring frosting.
These conditions were extremely frustrating for golfers and green staff alike as the course seemed to remain in its winter state far longer than any of us would wish. Dave Crampton saying that in 40 years as a green keeper he has never encountered such difficult conditions to transition from winter work into spring. With soft ground condition preventing the use of heavy machinery in many areas of the course grass cutting has been delayed. It is only over the last two weeks that access to all areas has been possible which is around 3 to 4 weeks later than last year. To illustrate this those of you who use buggies will recall how last year these returned to use on the course in early April whilst this year course conditions dictated this was delayed until early May
Then after access became possible the longer and now broader grass, particularly in the rough areas, has taken considerable efforts to disperse. To illustrate this Dave and his team cut the rough on the 9th hole twice in a day trying to break up the patches of dead grass and help restores the course to summer conditions.
Greens - Our greens are I know a frustration to many as they are to the staff who seek to maintain them. With winter conditions favouring the spread of fusarium and low ground temperatures preventing early season growth they have been a challenge to prepare for competition standard golf. Work in this area has been and will remain a priority. This week they have all again been fertilised, top dressed, verti cut and rolled. This is the third such application of fertiliser this spring where ordinarily we would see growth develop after the second application.
Our sand based greens react differently to soiled based alternatives. Providing advantages in respect of drainage after heavy rain yet disadvantages during cold periods as they cool quicker and delay growth. Looking to the future we as a club may need to consider how we use our greens during winter. It is now unlawful to apply contact fungicides which are the only chemical solutions to this problem when grass is not growing and in the near future systemic varieties for summer use are likely to also become prohibited. This is already the case in some other European countries and advice is that the UK will do likewise.
It is no coincidence that 14, 15, 16 & 17 are the better greens on our course which suffer considerably less footfall and playing damage than others. Grass roots suffer stress when walked on during frosty conditions in particular and similarly unrepaired pitch marks stress grass roots and allow disease into the green. As a club we protect our tees, fairways and rough during winter through the use of mats but do little to protect our greens. We as a committee may need to consider options which could include rotation and resting, winter greens and balancing the needs of those who wish to play in adverse condition against the needs of the course.
The 4th hole - As many of you will be aware we piloted the introduction of longer grass off the tee on this hole which it is fair to say generated mixed views. Having taken representation from all sections of the club we have elected to return this area to a rough cut level allowing balls to be more easily located and play to progress.
Finally – With summer golf conditions across all the course we are now beginning to see the return of unrepaired divot marks. These are a source of frustration to all who find themselves in such lies and particularly when playing in competition and unable to take relief. I would ask that if you can please take a divot bag along with you on your round. Repairing even a few or focussing on the usual “lay up areas” on the 3rd, 6th, 14th etc. helps keep those irksome lies less frequent.
We will also be hosting a member night at 5-30pm on Friday 15th June . If you wish to join us repairing divots, collecting litter etc. then the rewards are the same as last year. A free pint, pie & peas and of course the knowledge that you are doing something to hep your course go forward.
Enjoy your golf