Thursday, 16 March 2017

Spring course maintenance

After a busy week on the course I'd like to give a quick recap on some of the work we carried out during the recent course maintenance week.
Firstly a thank you to the membership for the patience during the week whilst we carried out the works.
The opportunity to carry out some intensive works on the playing surfaces helps us repair damage caused by winter play and prepare for the forthcoming season.
To begin with works carried out on the greens focussed on reducing excessive organic matter content that had built up during the winter, increased organic matter is caused by the deposition of plant parts such as leaves, stems, and roots.
Excessive organic matter can restrict the infiltration of water and gas exchange between the atmosphere and the soil air space in pores, this can lead to softer playing surfaces that don't perform well during the season.
The way we tackled the organic matter build up was to double scarify the greens, a process that involves cutting a groove below the surface and removing material. Sand top dressing was then applied followed by solid tining to a depth of 7 inches. The addition of sand top dressing will aid the dilution of organic matter & aid surface drainage.

Once the dressings had been applied the sand was brushed into the surface. Further dressings were applied to improve surface smoothness. During the year we are aiming to put 100 tonnes of top dressings into the putting surfaces, to date we've managed to work just over 30 tonnes, so we're on our way but still have quite a way to go....

Granular fertilisers were added alongside overseeding to improve the grass sward density.

After the work on the greens had been completed the tees were hollow cored, this is were a core is removed and top dressing is added. This improves the soil profile & structure which helps improve drainage and sward health. The cores will be used around the course to fill in area that have worn over the winter. The tees were also over seeded.

Additional works will be carried out including top dressing & the application of granular fertilisers to help recovery &  stimulate growth.
These works will hopefully be less disruptive but are an important part of the maintenance program. 


Sunday, 26 February 2017

Clearing up after Doris....

Last Thursday we were subjected to a Storm named Doris, I'd just like to take you through some of the clean up operations that have & will be taking place to clear up the golf course.

I'm not sure if it's since the Met Office started naming storm's that were more aware of them, if that's possible, but we certainly seem to be getting more of them..

This is the first time we have lost a significant number of trees due to a storm in quite a while, after Thursday we lost poplars in between the 10th & 16th, alongside the 4th boundary line & the 6th boundary and a poplar on the 13th tee has also gone. Added to this a lot of debris, again mostly off poplars & silver birch.

The number of mature poplars we have on the course, and their height, means it is inevitable in strong winds some will suffer damage and ultimately fail. We have seen evidence of that on Thursday. That is why continuing with a woodland management program focusing on developing stable, mixed aged species of woodland will enable the continuation & growth of the woodland areas around the golf course.

So onto the clean up. In terms of time & manpower it takes about 5 men working 7 hour days each to clean up after 1 large tree. Bearing in mind we lost 6 tree's in the storm that means the focus for the forthcoming week will be mainly based around clearing debris.

Why does it take so long? The tree's have to be cut up and made safe & manageable before we can start the clear up. We then use our chipper to reduce the amount of volume we have to move across the golf course. The chippings will be used as a base for our dumping site & some will be incorporated into compost production. One average size tree will produce about 10 tonnes of chippings, quite a lot but much easier to move chippings around the course the more heavier bulk material. From an environmental impact it also reduces our reliance on burning material.

Once the debris has been cleared away the stump will need to ground out and the area will be over seeded or filled with cores.

Also to deal with is the amount of branches, limbs, twigs & leaves that have been deposited across the golf course. This will rely on old fashion methods of picking up with, namely Greenkeepers and their hand's... We will use blowers & some machinery but must will be picked up by hand.

Does this have an impact on what other works are carried out on the golf course? Obviously some things that were planned for this coming week will now be put back but clearing up & maintaining a level of presentation on the course is paramount. And when mother nature decides to blow, there's very little we can do.

Apart from wonder who gets to choose the storms names.......

Monday, 6 February 2017

Getting through the winter.....

It's at this time of year when 'helpful' golf commentators are quick to remind us how many days there are till one of the great golfing event's of the year, The Masters, takes place. As I write this there are 59 days to go before we again see Augusta in all it's splendour. As much as I'm excited about the prospect of seeing the Masters it's these next 59 days that can go a long way as to how the golf course at Muswell Hill will perform & be presented in the spring.
To date the winter has been more cold than wet, but the wet stuff will surely come at some point so a lot of our focus will be on protecting the course whilst getting on with important tasks that help the course recover from winter play.  

Ropes & signs going up this time of year are needed to try and reduce and spread wear around the golf course. As golf is now played pretty much all year round trying to minimise the damage from the main playing areas will ensure the playing surfaces are in much better condition for when the main golfing season starts.

This winter we've seen a prolonged period of frosts and cold weather. We've continued with our policy of allowing play on the main greens during this period. To date no significant damage has been evident although if we find excessive damage has occurred we may have to review this policy. Once the thaw has arrived, the playing surfaces will be worked on by means of aeration to relieve compaction & aerate the rootzone, which assists drainage by creating more air spaces & the addition of both foliar and granular feeds to help stimulate the grass plant & give it some nutrition.

The image below is one that thankfully we haven't seen too many times this year but when we do get large amounts of rainfall some of the older bunkers are unable to cope. This is due mainly to the original drains no longer functioning. When the bunkers get flooded like this it leads to contamination of the bunker sand and ultimately a poorer sand from which to play from. The addition of the bunker blinder layer in the new bunkers means the sand will never become contaminated from flooding.

This past winter has seen extremely high disease pressure particularly from Fusarium patch. To help recovery we have been going round and putting a seed & rootzone mix into any scarring on the greens. This will help us to increase the amount of bent seed into the greens sward.

Dropping zones have also been added to the new bunkers on the 7th & 15th right hand side bunker to allow anyone going in the Ground Under Repair areas a better option where to drop.

We will continue to present the course in it's best possible way, most cutting now done by handmowers to reduce damage from heavier ride on cutting machines.

And finally a picture that makes all the work worthwhile, below is the drainage outlet from the fairway drainage installed across the 1st, 2nd & 3rd fairways. The water being removed by the drains that would previously have just run across the fairway damaging the turf and making the area unplayable. With he primary drainage now in place we can look to improve this area even more with top dressings & overseeding to improve playability and grass coverage.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Woodland management update.

Proposed Woodland Management works winter 2017

I'd like to set out the main proposals for the woodland work that will be carried out this winter on the golf course.
All the works are carried out in a sustainable manner to ensure continuous cover is maintained and young generations of tree's are provided an environment in which to prosper. This will be carried out by selective thinning of woodland areas and removal of stunted stems or trees with poor from. Some trees will be removed that are hindering growth & development of other trees.  All woodland management work must be aimed at preserving desirable tree species such as oak, pine & ash. This program will also improve light and air circulation and improve drainage to the playing surfaces which will improve the quality of the grass sward.

Q. Are the changes too severe?
Some of the work may appear a little drastic at first view but the work is often carried out in two or three phases. After initial work to thin out areas has been carried out these areas will be left to see how the tree's develop.

Q. Is the work necessary?
Absolutely – indeed failure to carry out woodland management works will result in species decline over time that could leave areas of the course with little or no tree cover.

Q. Are there any other benefits?
Further benefits of continued woodland management will be easier maintenance of long rough areas which will help increase the speed of play.
In addition to these works, areas around the golf course will be planted with wildflower seeds to increase ecological habitats on the course.

The images below highlight some the areas were work will be carried out.

Gorse area on 1st hole 

Copse between 6th & 7th fairway

Increase teeing options 7th medal tee

2nd tee & 4th fairway