Back at the turn of the century there were many bunkers around the course that would most probably not have been maintained, these would be natural sand waste areas. As time goes on and the course matures the dune lands are covered by grass, if they were left un managed we would lose them completely to trees and bushes.
This week we have started to clear out some of the old waste areas that are visible in old pictures we have of the course in the 1930s. These are not bunkers and there for will not be maintained as such, golfers will also be able to ground their club as bunker rules do not apply.
The areas on 5 and 18 that have already been done are quite far out of play so they should not attract too many balls. As time goes on they will naturally weather and start to look more rugged and as if they have been there for a long time.
At the end of December James and Nick were invited to talk at the Sussex turf club. The line up of speakers was fantastic and it was a very enjoyable day. James was talking about the renovation program on Royal Cinque Ports fairways and in particular the chemical ‘Rescue’.
Assistant Greenkeeper Nick Machin stole the show with an incredible and inspirational talk about his career and journey to winning the Toro Student Greenkeeper of the year Award. The crowd were won over with Nick’s enthusiasm and humour. He has a future in public speaking!
The sharp rush on the first is a popular meeting point amongst the golfers at RCP. Sadly last year it was badly damaged, the rush was given a considerable amount of time to recover but sadly progress was far too slow. Another was transplanted from the 3rd hole and is seems to be doing well so far. Bark was laid around the bottom to prevent frost from damaging the roots. We are hoping that it flourishes in 2018.
Many of the tees have a lot of wasted space due to undulations or tiers. 5 tees were levelled last year by hand however this year we decided to bring in a contractor to save a lot of time, effort and most of all money. It would usually take around 44 man hours to level a 350 square meter tee using the old fashioned pipe and horse method (wood scraped along 2 tracks of pipe laid in to the tee with a spirit level). The contractor takes 2 hours to do so.
The machine itself is a Blec Harley power rake, a spinning barrel with small knobs tiles up the surface and drags the topsoil around. A laser tells the operator whether to add or take away and thus making the top level.
This year we have stripped all of the turf off the 2nd, 5th, 7th, 8th ladies and 9th tees. The turf will be laid straight back down straight after.
The 5th tee had the tier removed, this was 4 meters of wasted space. There is now a large area for the clubs tee wear to be spread across.
The 9th tee needed an even amount of room for club and yellow tees so the tier was moved back 4 yards, the tee has also been extended to the right a few meters.
The 2nd and 18th tees have had the most dramatic changes, pictures and details of which will appear in a blog post soon.
All of the staff at RCP undertake tournament experience at various points through out the year and team dog Stevie Bledge is no exception. Whilst Course Manager James Bledge was visiting family in Scotland, Stevie spent a week at Princes Golf Club with Course Manager Sean Mclean and his little terror Sonny Mclean.
FOOD WAS INVOLVED IN THE TAKING OF THIS PHOTOGRAPH……
Stevie was keeping an eye on the construction of the Himalayas course as well as early morning course set up, she also spent a great deal of time in the spike bar eating sausages. As you can see from the photo below, Sean had her working very hard.
We are very lucky to have such beautiful golf course dogs and thanks to Sean and the Mcguirks for looking after Stevie.
This year we decided to reach out to other Greenkeepers across the UK to visit the club and learn about the art of revetting bunkers. We were joined by Vince DeMarzo from The Wisley, Craig Potts and Matt Purcell both from Forest of Arden. The event was kindly sponsored by ICL and Lister Wilder who provided sustenance and a tractor for the week.
Senior Assistant Ben Williams undertook the project to give him some experience organising an event, this is also a requirement on his foundation degree so it was a great opportunity.
The plan was to have all of the bunkers on the 7th hole done by the end of the week. The 7th hole is lined up either side with 7 deep bunkers and we felt it best that they were replaced ‘like for like’ with the original shapes maintained.
The bunkers are already back in play and the surroundings left ground under repair until the turf has knitted in. The club plans on hosting another bunker camp in the winter of 2008.