23rd January 2017 – BTME Harrogate

Last week, 6 of the team visited Harrogate for the annual British Turfgrass Managers Exhibition.Left to right, Greig Easton, Darren Burton, James Bledge, Chris Clark, Lee Campany, Nick Machin.


This is the highlight of many a Greenkeepers year due to the fantastic education schedule, busy show and great networking opportunities. Running from the Sunday to the Wednesday the team attended seminars and classes. One of the most interesting classes was taken by Adrian Mortram. Adrian is designing the potential upgrades to our new irrigation system and is an absolute fountain of knowledge (excuse the pun). The 8 hour class covered all aspects of irrigation design however this class could easily have lasted a month due to the vastness of the subject. Below is a graph we used to study pressure and friction loss in pipe work. Who says greenkeepers are just grass cutters!


One of the most interesting classes was entitled the Dr and The Super hosted by Chris Tritabaugh, Golf Course Superintendent, Hazeltine National Golf Club and Dr Brian Horgan, Professor, University of Minnesota. A fascinating insight in to the challenges of setting up last years Ryder Cup course which was considered to be the best conditioned golf course of all time. Inspirational.


The show was ram packed with all the latest machinery and products. It is great to catch up with the reps and manufacturers of all of the products that make our courses so wonderful!


BBC News and Strictly Come Dancing star Naga Munchetty hosted some of the events. A new idea was round table discussions. Legendary Ryder Cup Course Managers from Celtic Manor, Medinah, Gleneagles, Hazeltine and Le Golf National joined her for a discussion that was enjoyed by many.


Our organisation BIGGA do a first class job of arranging this exhibition and it gets better every year. Greenkeepers from all over Europe and America and chew the fat with others for the week and new friendships are made. The BIGGA team look after us Greenkeepers so well during the week and it’s thanks to them that the show is such a success. The Royal Cinque Ports team will be back next year.


20th January 2017 – Sward Composition On Greens

The greens at Royal Cinque Ports are ancient and made up of a variety of grasses. Much like many old, traditional links courses we have a blend of Fescue, Bent, Rye, Yorkshire fog and Poa Annua. These grasses are blended fairly well and perform well together with the exception of course of Yorkshire Fog.


The rye grasses tend to cause us little problems and because of the large amounts we have, particularly on holes 6 and 17 we have to be very cautious to use any chemicals, In the picture below we can see the ryegrass shining on the 17th green. The data taken from these area shows that the rye grass integrated into other species perform as well as any other blends of fescue, bent and poa.


The next picture was taken with a Canon Macro lens and it shows how refined the ryegrass actually is. bearing in mind no verti cutting or brushing has been undertaken since September due to overseeding. Although it would be preferred that the rye is not there, it makes sense to give golfers quality greens as opposed to create major disruption by spraying to eradicate it.


We have some beautiful patches of fescue after 4 years of autumn over seeding. It is intended to introduce more fescue this summer with dimple seeding should a window of opportunity become available.


Our biggest problem is the Yorkshire fog and we are considering a spot treatment of the worst areas using Rescue graminicide next Autumn before the chemical is removed from production. More aggressive verticutting will be implemented this year also to tackle the problem and improve speed, consistency and smoothness. Below we can see the light patches of fog on our most affected area.


These photos were taken on the 20th of January 2017 and we are very happy with the condition and performance at this time of year. The winter has been very kind to us and we are very positive about the year ahead. More refinement, more sand and more rolling.


12th January 2017 – 5th White Tee Project

One of the biggest projects we are undertaking this year is the re vamp of the 5th white tee. For years this tee has been an eye sore surrounded by beautiful natural dunes. The equally graded banks were more parkland than links style and with golfers perched on top when teeing off the whole complex had such an artificial feel. The heavy imported chalk and clay soils below created rank productive growth. Please watch the video below for a further explanation from Course Manager James Bledge.



Firstly the banks were stripped and turf covered by decent soils to be seeded later


Then the tee was lowered 500mm with a 2% fall from right to left to shed any water off the tee.


The tee pad itself was reduced to half the size, 5m wide by 10m long as this tee is only used around half a dozen times a year. The project wasn’t undertaken to change the tee itself, more the surroundings.


Rootzone was imported from the now redundant left hand side 9th tee. laid at 300mm, this will provide a fantastic growling medium compared to what lay underneath previous.


This photo is taken from the front of the tee looking back. Now levelled and ready for a flat rake and turfing.


After turfing we can see the entire area is sand capped by using natural sand mined from behind the 13th green where a wet land is being constructed. Over 150 tons of sand was brought in and dispersed to mirror the shaping underneath.


2 tractors and trailers and a dump truck brought in sand. Here we can see sand ready at the bottom of the slope ready to be pushed up and firmed in before seeding in the spring.


Above are 3 of the team battling the snow, torrential rain and strong winds to get as much work done before the end of the week, Left to right, Chris Clark, Tristan Martin and Lee Campany. Each member of staff put in a fantastic effort this week to make the most of the week long digger hire.

The next step is to finish sand capping the bottom of the tee, Irrigation needs to be installed then marram grass will be planted to make the area look more natural. In the spring the bankings will be seeded with fescue and left to grow. By the end of the summer we would expect the tee to blend in perfectly to the surrounding landscape.

Please keep checking the blog for further updates.

10th January 2017 – 18th Dyke Clearance

The reeds in the dyke on 18 always grow tall in the summer months. Sometimes so tall that they look very untidy and disguise a good water feature. The main purpose of this dyke however is drainage. by dredging this strip there becomes more room in the dyke for any drainage water as the entire bottom half of the 18th fairway is drained into here.


Around 3ft of shaved reeds, roots and silt were removed by Frank Perkins of Ovenden Plant Hire. Our new 6 ton trailer and a hared 7 ton dump truck were used to cart the spoil all the way down to the compost heap opposite the 12th tee, this procedure took two days in total and there was no damage due to ply boards underneath the machines protecting the turf.


To the left side of the fairway towards the 2nd fairway only 50% of the reeds were removed with the advice of Natural England. This will give any wildlife residing in the dyke a place to relocate to. Next winter the ditches at 10,11 and 16 will be cleared also.


Please watch this short video to see the excavator in action:

10th January 2017 – Newly Levelled 11th Tee

Many golfers have been asking the question “Why are you lifting this tee!?” This is actually one of the most un level tees on the course, there were only actually around three or four decent areas to put tee markers so the distance between was level. On a tee measuring over 300 square meters there was a lot of wasted ground. First Assistant Lee Campany led a team of 3 staff to strip, level and turf this tee in around 4 days in total. Fescue / Bent turf was brought in from Tillers turf farm and we are very impressed with the quality. We do not have any turf of a decent enough standard on site until our turf nursery is upgraded with irrigation, this is planned for the month of March. This new tee should be in play within a few months, until then the blue tee is being used as an easy option and the sea wall tee for those a little braver.