With so much disappointment this year regarding tournament cancellations due to Covid-19, it was great that we managed to get Deal Week up and running and present the golf course and the clubhouse to the best of our ability, showing her off to all of our members and guests.
The weather for the week was a little temperamental however. One of the days we witnessed 34mm of rain fall on the course in 1 hour, during which time a lighting strike on the car park disabled the communication cable on the irrigation system.
Amazingly the course was playable again 3 hours from when this photograph was taken and we managed to get golf finished more or less! This is testament to all of the aeration, topdressing and wetting agent work carried out through out the year, water pulled through the profile, and also lets not forget the main factor! The incredible infiltration rate of natural pure sand, the reason Links Courses can provide 12 months play.
Some fantastic photos were taken of the storm by member Paul Craven.
All of the bunkers were badly washed out, they were rotovated and tilfed using the Toro Sandpro and left to dry out for a day before returning them to play on the final day.
All things considered, Deal Week was a huge success, It was great to see so many members safely gathering on the putting green, enjoying Dennis’s BBQ and the bar run by Carol.
We have been looking for a better way to ameliorate topdressing in to the profile when topdressing greens. Every so often something pops up on eBay that fits the bill and at £300 this implement could be the solution! A new version would have cost around £4000.
This roller spiker is made for the Toro Sandpro that we purchased this spring. it is fairly easy to fit and very efficient to use.
Although this unit is old it is in good working order and after it’s first outing gave us the result we were looking for. After the green is topdressed we run the spiker over it and then another machine brushes and fills the holes with sand, by doing this less sand is left on the surface and it drops into small channels in the profile, the organic matter is replaced with sand and there for diluted. The picture below is a great example of this.
This will ensure the greens are firmer, truer and in time less prone to disease or surface waterlogging. There are a number of other benefits that coincide with this.
The picture above is what we are left with after a brush. The greens are then treated with a wetting agent which coats the sand particles before a good soaking from the irrigation system sends the sand deeper in to the canopy. This operation occurs monthly during the main playing season.
One of the great aspects of this industry is having the ability to surround yourself with fantastic people, these people are quite often the key in your personal development and success and in turn the success of the Golf Club.
I met Dan Lightfoot 8 years ago when I started at Royal Cinque Ports. I was looking for someone who I didn’t know to mentor me during a time in my life where I wished to transition between Deputy and Course Manager, Dan was Course Manager at Bearwood Lakes then and offered a load of advice. Since then Dan has taken on a top role as Business Manager at Syngenta, who are the largest chemical company in the world.
Dan is one of the most respected figures in our industry and has served his time as a Course Manager, college lecturer, Master Greenkeeper, he has a degree in agronomy and is currently working on a business degree. Nothing like setting the benchmark high eh Dan!?
Today we walked the course, looking at ways in which we could improve turf quality and discussed how well the products we use are working and how we could make them work more effectively.
Having a mentor, having a few mentors or being a mentor to others is extremely important in this industry. I am also very lucky to act as mentor to others and it is a role I take very seriously.
Over recent years the standard and presentation of paths and flow areas leading golfers between tees, fairways and greens has improved significantly. The improvement in these areas is largely thanks to the clubs investment in a state of the art irrigation system. The system allows paths to be irrigated accurately, helping to preserve turf health in the summer months of increased golfer foot traffic and high daytime temperatures.
In order to further enhance the golfing experience a number of path areas were identified for improvement. The footpath crossings at the 7th, 10th and 15th have in recent years become rutted and uneven due to the high volume of foot and vehicle traffic they receive. It was decided these areas would be ‘sleepered’ in a boardwalk fashion using salvaged railway sleepers to create a continuous path between the tees and fairways.
The construction of the sleeper paths was broken down into several stages.
Firstly, the existing path crossings were excavated to the required depth:
Sleepers were then laid into position with care taken to level each individual sleeper accurately. This process can often prove tricky due to the bowed nature of the aged and salvaged wood. Once in position, the sleepers are fastened together using 6 x 150 mm screws. The picture below shows First Assistant Greenkeeper Tristan Martin working on the 7th sleeper path.
When the entire path crossing is laid with sleepers, the area surrounding the boardwalk is backfilled and turfed so a seamless transition can be made between the sleeper paths and existing grass walkway. The photos below show the construction process on the 10th hole.
In total 73 sleepers were used across the 5 new paths. It was decided before the beginning of the project that the sleepers would be purchased using the proceeds from the sale of old club flags. The old flags had recently been replaced and it offered an ideal opportunity for members to have a piece of RCPGC memorabilia at home. Royal Cinque Ports Artisan member Arron Skirrow (Frames For You) professionally framed the old club flags beautifully. In total £1700 was raised to fund the project. Many thanks to Arron for his brilliant work and to the members for supporting this project.
One of the more noticeable areas of improvements in the last few years have been around greens complexes. In 2017 we sprayed a chemical that killed all of the rye and Yorkshire fog grasses which gave us an opportunity to increase finer grasses and lower cutting heights to bring back links characteristics. On the 8th for example, a ball missing the green would often settle in longer grass where as now balls even missing the green by the smallest of margins would end up in the bunker.
8th hole – 2013
8th hole – 2020
Some may see this as a negative however we are a championship golf course and we have a fantastic reputation for being one of the toughest, which is a good thing, right!?
10th hole -2013
10th hole – 2020
Rough edged bunkers take a few years to establish, settle in and weather, the 10th is a fantastic example of this and probably has the most amount of character of any bunker on the entire course. maintenance is extremely low and the natural look fits in well to the links surroundings.
13th hole – 2013
13th hole – 2020
14th hole – 2013
14th hole – 2020
The 14th hole has really benefited from the introduction of some modern dwarf rye grasses on the area to the left of the deep bunker where the majority of traffic pass through. we have full grass coverage on this area now.
Tonight Course Manager James Bledge delivered a presentation covering four main topics, his career to date, the agronomy history at RCP, improvements over the last 7 years and his beliefs in turf management.
The presentation went live on Zoom on a Saturday night, he has since re visited the presentation and re recorded it, at the same time elaborating on certain subjects.
The presentation can be found on our YouTube channel:
This can become more of a regular occurrence if it proves popular with the membership. If there are any questions you would like answered or if there is anything that has happened on the course over the last few years that you wish to know more about then please let us know and we can form a presentation based around a question answer session.
Grab yourself a big cup of tea or even better a large glass of red wine, sit back and enjoy.
To coincide with the redesign of the club logo and change in colours, new club pins and flags have been sourced to compliment the rebrand.
The new navy and white pins replace the existing black, white and club coloured pins. They will be used during major member competitions, with the clubs traditional red and white pins used during regular competition and social play.
Sourcing the new pins and flags proved tricky. Currently, no major golf furniture manufacturers produce navy and white pins. The task of producing the new pins was therefore undertaken in house. White and navy vinyl guard was purchased to shrink wrap the new pins. This painstaking process involves cutting the vinyl to length and heating it using a heat gun. Once the vinyl is softened with heat, it is stretched into position and left to cool and set.
The final stage in the process of readying the new pins and flags for play is waterproofing the flags. One of the greatest elements of the greenkeeping industry is the willingness of other turf professionals to share ideas. Erwan Le Cocq from WINSTONgolf in Germany has used a product called Nikwax for a number of years. The waterproofing product protects the flags against stains and reduces fading. We are hoping by using this product we’ll be able to preserve the pristine appearance of the flags for a greater amount of time.