Work is underway in several areas of the course to clear long rough and scrub.
The clearance is concentrating on lost ball hotspots and carries from tee to fairway for the timebeing.
We cut everything down with a heavy duty flail mower before returning with a smaller flail collector to lift and remove the debris. The flail will cut everything down from grass to small gorse and broom plants.
The collector compacts the material as it picks it up allowing us to load it into trailers for removal much more easily.
By continually repeating this process each season we will promote less dense, wispy roughs and reduce the chance of lost balls/slow play.
We can also use graminicides to spray out the coarse grasses as the rough regenerates and further improve playing conditions.
Work to renovate the drain lines on the 11th green has recently been completed.
We started by cutting the turf above the drains and laying it to the side to replace later.
The sand used as backfill previously was dug out by hand and taken away.
The sand is actually crushed sandstone and is made up of mostly square shaped particles. These sit close together and provide very little pore space for water to percolate through.
We removed the pipe and rinsed it out ready to put back in. While the pipe was out we took the opportunity to check the levels of the drain and found the central section was flat with virtually no fall and the back third was actually running the wrong way. This was rectified and the pipe replaced.
We replaced the pipe and filled the trench with 10mm gravel leaving 6″ for rootzone at the top. The gravel was firmed up before the rootzone was added and heeled in as firmly as possible. The centre on the drain line has been left fractionally proud intentionally to allow for the inevitable settling of material.
The rootzone is a mix of 80% sand and 20% soil which will allow water to drain through to the gravel but at the same time hold on to enough moisture in summer to avoid the drain lines burning out.
We then replaced the turf and tied it all in before brushing and blowing the green to clear any spillages of gravel and rootzone.
The drain lines were then carefully rolled to smooth out any bumps.
It is important to remember that the material used in the drain lines is completely different to the rest of the green. As a result the drain lines will always be visible to a degree.
What we have now however is a functioning drainage system which can be added to over time creating a lattice of extra channels which will quickly and efficiently remove surface water.
Following our soil analysis in spring this season we have been able to tailor our nutrient needs more precisely.
These two charts are for one green (2nd hole) and we had 4 tested in total to give a better picture over the entire site. Armed with these figures we were able to decide on a feeding programme using both granular and foliar feeds.
Nutrients move through the plant in different ways which further complicates product selection.
For example, we are low in Calcium which is an essential part of cell wall structure. Calcium moves quickly upwards in the plant but very slowly downwards so there is little gain from a foliar application. Calcium needs to applied in a way that makes it present in the soil so we look for granular fertilisers containing Calcium.
The aim is to create and maintain a healthy, nutrient rich yet balanced rootzone. Over time this will help us reduce maintenance costs and provide strong, healthy turf with a vigourous root system.
The greens are heading into winter in very good health.
There is a good level of colour at the moment without it being artificially green in appearance. It should also be noted that the greens have received virtually no Nitrogen since late July. The use of Iron has also been limited with only a light foliar application in September, the first since January.
Our soil analysis in spring has enabled us to select and apply only the fertilisers which the turf required. We have been feeding with just enough to keep the turf healthy yet not actually force anything to grow.
The greens have been heavily overseeded this season and it has proven to be very successful. It is now getting a little on the cold side for decent germination so seeding is suspended until next season.
The dry spring actually worked in our favour in some respects. It made life very difficult for the shallow rooted Annual Meadowgrass and in several areas it weakened it so much that the finer grasses were able to get a foothold and start to out compete it.
We have just taken delivery of a few products to maintain the current level of turf health throughout winter and we hope to get off to a good start in spring for what will be a huge year at the Club.
The photos above show the difference in the tees over the last 18 months.
It is just possible to see the lines of new seedlings in the lower photo from the first introduction of dwarf Rye. The second photo shows how rapidly it has filled in any gaps in the sward over the space of a full growing season.
Increased feed as well as the use of wetting agents and regular aeration has also gone a long way to improving the surfaces.
The dwarf Rye has such good wear tolerance and rapid recovery that even with our small tees it should be possible to keep a good cover of grass year round.
With the turf quality improved we find ourselves in the position of being able to lift the turf, level the tees and relay the same turf over the next few years vastly reducing the cost of the tee renovations.
We’ve had a great strike from the autumn overseeding with every line in all 3 passes now showing new seedlings.
The seeding work has been timed perfectly and all of the new Fescue and Bent seedlings should be well established before any significant frost. This will get us off to a great start next season.
The first of the fairway bunkers has been renovated and topped up with sand.
All of the old revetting has been removed and the bunker base shaped to give steep sides. This will encourage balls to find the flat centre of the bunker allowing easier shots to be played out.
The bunkers will also have Marram grass and Heather planted in small areas to promote the Links/Heath look.
So far only the first bunker on the right of 9 has been done but to put things in perspective this took 1 man 90 minutes to complete as opposed to 2 men 2 days to revett the same bunker.