As far as records go back this has so far been the warmest winter. From a golfers point of view this is welcomed however for the greenkeeper the warm spell has brought its own set of problems. We would usually expect the plant to shut down around October / November at latest but growth days have been similar to those in May which is incredible, The top graph shows this. Fairways were still being cut weekly in November and greens up to 3 times a week. A lot of man hours (around 32 more than last year per week) are lost as a result which is an inconvenience when trying to push on with an extensive winter programme.
From an Agronomic stand point, organic matter in the top 20mm of the greens will continue to be produced by the plant which is something we try all year to keep to a minimum. Usually at this time of year these figures would stay static. The grass plant is growing more elongated which brings density problems leading to the thinning of turf, usually we would spray growth retardants to remedy this however we never thought 15c days in December were coming.
Windows for topdressing in the winter are so few and far between that we must make hay while the sun shines. Today was a perfect day for dressing, dry with a nice wind to dry the sand out. To start with the greens were cut then they were dressed with 11 tonnes of Kingsley fine washed sand. After this they were double aerated with some sarel rollers, this not only lets the top inch breathe but allows the sand to dilute the thatch in the top inch. After this the drag mat passes and the sand drops into the holes. 3mm of rain fell the following night which washed the sand deeper into the canopy. The greens were cut again the following day to cut all of the lateral growth left standing up after the sarel rolling and drag matting. The aim this year is to get on as much sand as possible, by doing this we will reduce out organic matter content which will encourage finer grasses, discourage disease and make the greens firm and fast. The purchase of new mower sharpening equipment (grinders) allows us to topdress as much as possible without sacrificing cut quality.
One of the main focuses on this years winter programme is to enhance golfers enjoyment by ensuring they can play the whole way round whilst using an electric trolley and not coming off hole 18 with clubs all chipped from rattling around in the golf bag. Many of the paths are exceedingly uneven and one of the first to get tackled is the ladies path at 17. At first the path was stripped then an excavator smoothed off any ruts. a trench was dug for irrigation and then new turf was laid, the turf was stripped from our existing nursery. The path was then rolled a number of times to make it as smooth as possible then the mats were laid 1.5 meters wide. The path should be open early spring when the turf has grown through and has enough grip on the mats to keep them in place. The next path on the programme is the 2nd which should be finished by the end of the month.
Sometimes looks can be deceiving and in this case the bunker renovation on the right hand side of the second fairway may seem a little more intimidating now. In actual fact the bunker was always like this however it was changed four years ago with more of a ‘roll in’ top. The problem with this is it was made invisible from the tee and its always better when possible to see the hole from the tee exactly how it should be played. The revetting has been laid at a similar angle to the banking, by doing this we can allow machinery to cut closer without wearing away the bankings. The bunker was moved just under a meter toward the fairway to eliminate this problem too. The run in was raised by a foot so the base could also be raised from the water table as this bunker used to flood. Like the rest of the bunker renovations this winter they will be opened when the turf has knitted in and the sand has been added.
The above half of the photo was taken at 3pm on the 5th of January with the below photo taken at 8am on the 6th. 40mm of rain fell in under 24 hours. This puddle will be pumped away. The rest of the green remains dry and playable. There is a lot more rain forecast over the next two weeks so Greenstaff will be making course play ability and water removal a priority.
Happy Christmas from all of the Greenstaff at Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club. In the photo below we find Course Manager James Bledge and his son Fletcher showing off their knitted club jumpers on Christmas day!
All of the Greenstaff wish the members and visitors a fantastic 2016. We are all very excited about the future of the course and look forward to raising the standards month after month.
For the first time ever all three teams from Royal Cinque Ports, Princes and Royal St Georges met up for a Christmas breakfast at Princes golf club. Over the last year all three course managers have formed fantastic friendships which is of great benefits to all clubs. Both courses next door are making huge agronomic steps and we all learn more and more each day after focus and brainstorming sessions together, whether it be on new machinery, chemical trials and other general maintenance techniques. We are very lucky to have such fantastic courses just next door and long may the friendships continue between all of the teams.