The biggest improvements made on the course this year have been with walkways and these areas between greens and tees that we are calling ‘flow’ areas. After playing Carnoustie a few years ago I was so impressed with how the course ‘flowed’ from tee to fairway to green to tee and so on. You could almost go out with a putter and play all the way round.
The area above is between the 1st green and 2nd tee and is currently being cut at 9mm which is the same height as the walkways. An areation, fertility, overseeding and wetting agent program has now been introduced to these areas to improve the turf quality to be closer to the tees and surrounds of which they link. The fantastic design of the new irrigation system by Adrian Mortrem has enabled us to improve these areas as they have never been irrigated previously.
Each year we concentrate on one or two areas of the course that need improvement. The next area in need is the semi rough. coverage is sometimes inconsistent or poor.
Please watch the video below for a simple explanation on how this machine works:
By decompacting these areas and creating air space we can make way for water to pass through evenly, roots to dive deeper and develop more root hairs which in turn will increase plant health and coverage. This process is disruptive however it is all for th greater good.
The overseeder will then pass over these areas with a mix of fescue and dwarf rye. this process will also smooth any damage out and also plant new growth in sparse areas. This is not an instant fix however, it may take a few years worth of work using this machine to improve definition and quality to an RCP standard.
The sand areas are starting to settle in and really look more natural now. weed activity is less each year and the ecology value has risen ten fold with more frequent sightings of bird life, insects and reptiles (safe of course!). Marram grass is naturally taking hold around the edges which is also great to see.
New sleeper clad bins have now been introduced on every hole with larger bins on 10 and 11 following the half way hut. These are far more befitting of a natural links course and work in well with the sleeper theme we already have on some holes. There is something very linksy about sleepers, with many links courses all over the country laying beside train lines, they really fit in. Ball washers have also been upgraded on the very very rare occasion that someone should find some mud on their ball!
The tees at Royal Cinque Ports are generally good. In order to keep them firm, they requited a slightly more aggressive treatment this year.
Thatch levels are a touch higher than we would have liked so the decision was made to hollow core the tees to a depth of 1.5″ and replace with natural screened sand thus diluting any thatch that has accumulated over the years. This is not a problem however by undertaking this maintenance we prevent it from becoming a problem.
Around 30 tons per hectare of sand screened from the field opposite the 12th tee was applied and swept in to the holes left after coring.
After the sand disappears down the holes and in to the canopy we drilled 15g/m2 of fescue seed in to them and they were fertilised with a 10-5-14 analysis which will release Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium over the next 3-4 months.
This summer we have adopted a slightly different style of raking bunkers which will help to return more balls to the center of the bunker. For years bunkers have been tooth raked to the edges however there are issues with balls stopping near the revetting. The other issue with this is the fact that golfers take chunks out of the face of the bunker when taking this shot on and as a result the bunker doesn’t last as long and in worst cases collapses. Smooth raking the edges enables us to ‘bowl’ the edges, rain and heat then bakes and compacts them which helps ball run. The centers are raked with a spring bok rake which lets the ball sit up nicely. The appearance is also far more attractive.
Please remember and push sand away when raking bunkers and not pull towards you, this leaves lumps and ridges and is extremely bad etiquette towards following golfers. Please watch the video below for an explanation: