Last night 32mm of rain fell at a rate of 130mm/hr. A solid 3 hour thunder and lightning storm hit the Kent coast. The greens were dry 4 hours later which is testament to all of the creation and topdressing work, green speeds of 10ft were maintained after a double cut and roll at 4mm
The total rain for this year is now just over 100mm which is an all time low. Moisture levels have been maintained better thanks to a new wetting agent. The bounce back on dry spots after rain has been incredible.
Photo Credit: Will Smith, The Outpost Club.
When clearing out the rough, be it through chemical controls, cutting and collecting or fire, we open up the ground to new flora. The most interesting of late being poppies. There is also an abundance of natural garlic around the course which hopefully will disappear soon to make way for fine grass. The roughs are much thinner this year compared to the last few years and by continuing our practices we can continue to keep play fast and enjoyable.
Today the green side bunker on the 14th collapsed. The revetting has been weak for a while and the top a touch unstable. The problem being the distance between the top of the green and the edge of the bunker, also the severe slope struggled to hold any sort of moisture and grass cover was poor. The entire bunker had to be re built as a patch up job would have looked unsightly.
The bunker took James, Lee and Nick 3 days to build, The bunker has 3 extra rows on top and a slightly different shape to the sides and the back. It is now no longer blind so golfers can see the hazard from the tee. The surrounds have been shaped again to gather balls from all around.
4 tons of sand was added, the edges bowled up so balls should return more often than not to the centre of the bunker. There will now be a great effort to get the bunker surrounds back in to play for Final Open Qualifying. The bunker is already back in play with the surrounds ground under repair.
Today Course Manager James took a call over Skype to a class of Greenkeeping students from Pretoria, South Africa. The students were interested in links golf and how our turf grass management differs. It would be great to see some students over here in years to come so this could be the start of something interesting.
For years the range net area has really let the practice facilities down. The decision was taken to invest in this area to bring it up to scratch with the rest of our facilities. The nets were purchased from Tacit and constructed as a project under the management of First Assistant Lee Campany. Lee has a fantastic talent for construction, he is responsible for the front of the 10th tee, 13th sleeper tee banking and sleeper steps around the course.
The mats have been sunk in to a concrete bed with an astro turf slope that returns golf balls to the mat.
The ball dispenser has now been moved and made more discreet.
Today saw a visit from Alistair Beggs, Alistair has worked for the STRI as an agronimist for many years and is very highly regarded as one of the best agronimists in the country. In this instance he has been employed by the R&A to visit RCP and see how we are performing before the Final Qualifying in July. He was joined this time by Micheal Boyes who has just joined the STRI so he was shadowing. Alistair makes 3 trips a year to RCP. One of which is to report on behalf of the club in a more general sense.
On this visit greens moisture, speed , firmness, trueness and smoothness were tested. all of which were of tournament standards which we were very happy about. Of course there are always improvements to be made and we are always striving for better results but we are on the right track and improving with every visit.
The most satisfying result was the organic matter levels in the top 20mm. As explained in the last blog post we were hoping these had reduced due to the amount of dressing. They have reduced by around 1% which is fantastic progress. Below are the results from the STRI performance testing:
If we keep up the same practices we should have all greens within the correct targets this time next year. Below is a graph of the progress made since 2013 in organic matter reduction:
The greens were dressed with 7 tons of sand a week before the world ranking South East Links tournament. The sand had completely disappeared before the competition. We feel that we can control and disruption between dressings and golf by applying such a little amount, and thanks to the new bulk dresser acting as a feeder we can complete all of the greens in under 4 hours where as before it too an extra 2 members of staff and 2 extra hours to topdress. We also used to interrupt golf. This has been a major factor in to the improvement in green surfaces. The STRI visit the week of the SE Links and we will receive organic matter test results. we have been desperate to decrease these over the last 4 years and we are hoping that there has been another reduction this year due to frequent top dressings