Today was Micheal MacDonnell’s (Mac) 55th birthday! Mac has worked at Royal Cinque Ports now for 39 years and is the rock of the team. Mac waters all of the greens by hand each morning, quite often arriving at work at 2:30am so he can apply water to all of the high and dry spots before any golf. He quite often keeps fit by raking every bunker on the course. Mac is a fantastic mole catcher and has an incredible knowledge of the course. A true RCP legend and modest one at that, Mac is an accomplished angler and can often be found spending entire nights at Cottington lakes fishing for carp. Recently Mac has just become a proud grandfather. We have informed him that he needs to work for another 39 as he is literally irreplaceble!
At every opportunity this year we intend to apply a light dressing to the greens, its so light in fact that some golfers didn’t even notice after the sand was brushed in, in the photo below we see Darren Burton topdressing the putting green at a rate of 6 tons per hectare. We have found that heavier applications have struggled to disappear into the canopy so the little and often has been working for us over the last year. Tuesdays are the ideal days to do this due to an increased number of visitors on Mondays and Thursdays and Ladies day on Wednesdays. Should weather postpone this we will undertake dressing on a Thursday.
Topdressing allows us to reduce organic matter without more aggressive thatch reduction techniques such as deep verticutting that would sacrifice our finer grasses. By reducing organic matter we firm up the greens, make them faster, smoother and we create a habitat in which fine grasses like fescues and bents survive.
Tees were also dressed this week at a rate of 15 tons per hectare. A few of the tees are spongy and sand will firm the top surfaces up. The new tees in particular were hand dressed at an even higher rate.
“Sand sand and more sand!”
This week the entire course was sprayed with a selective weedkiller. Because of the rescue work especially in our un cut roughs, gaps in the turf have made way for weeds so these need to be controlled. Fairways and tees were treated for bucks horn plantain and greens for a small amount of pearlwort. After having a substantial amount of pearlwort last year we have really managed to reduce the infestation which has been a massive step in the right direction.
The picture above sees Senior Greenkeeper Darren Burton spraying the fairways with Qualibra. This is a wetting agent that when soaked in by the irrigation system or rain helps the soil profile to disperse and hold on to water better. The fairways will still dry out during lengthy dry spells however will recover faster after spells of rain. Move even colour and plant health is increased. We use Qualibra on all cut surfaces apart from rough. This is our first year of doing so and we are happy with the results so far considering it has been the driest year since records began. building up levels of this wetting agent in the soil profile will improve not only plant health but playability. keeping the tops firm yet the sub surface perfectly moist.
Apprentice Chris Clark started with the team in August 2016. Chris is from Dover and has recently moved to Deal. A left handed golfer with a handicap of 15, Chris also plays international Water Polo for Great Britain. He is the joker of the team and keeps everyone amused. Chris is studying NVQ level 2 Greenkeeping at Plumpton College and is learning fast, each week we make progress with Chris’s training and we feel he has a very exciting future ahead of him. This summer he will carry out tournament support at a seniors event at Warrington Golf club, this will give him an insight into how others run their tournaments and will give him a good chance to network with fellow greenkeepers.
This week saw our largest tournament of the year, 640 competitors graced the links at Deal, Sandwich and Princes and the weather could not have been better. At this time of year there is still a risk of frost however the weather could not have been better and many golfers commented that it was the best weather they had experienced in the history of the tournament. The Greenstaff were very happy with the condition of the course, no rain in a few months meant that the fairways and greens ran hard and fast, the downside of this being very little long rough although some may see this as an upside!
The overall winners were Epsom with some very impressive foursomes golf played.