Thursday 14 June 2018

Pitch marks

There's no doubt the issue of pitch marks on greens has been and very much still is a contentious issue at golf clubs around the globe. It's a strange phenomenon as the majority of golfers you talk to on this subject will always say they repair theirs and a couple more?

This year we've undertaken some case studies to try and monitor the repairing of pitch marks. A par 3 green was observed late one morning for 40 minutes, in total 21 people played the hole.

8 players out of the 21 hit the green making a pitch mark. Out of the 8 no one repaired their mark or even looked for it, out of the 21, not one person repaired a pitch mark or looked for one.

Another case study we carried out was on the par 5 16th. We purposely didn't repair any pitch marks from Friday morning set up until Monday morning set up. Following set up we placed a golf ball in every unrepaired pitch mark on the 16th green, in total we placed 60 golf balls on the green. (see pictures below). This was a very disappointing stat to acquire especially as we had just completed a maintenance week in which all works carried out to greens was in aid to make are putting surfaces smoother and truer.

I've no doubt that there are conscientious individuals that do repair their ball mark and one other, but on the above evidence there are many more that don't! I feel a more conscientious effort needs to be adopted by all of our members to deliver the true putting surfaces we all desire.

How to correctly repair a pitch mark

How NOT to repair a pitch mark

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Course Walk

Recently club members were invited to participate in a course walk with Head Greenkeeper Andrew Ricketts. The aim of the walk is to communicate with the clubs membership the various types of works that are carried out by the greenkeeping team to maintain and develop the golf course and surrounding land. The topics covered on this particular walk included :- Winter program, bunker refurbishment, path/walkway renovations, irrigation upgrades, soil profile 10th fairway, Holm oak control and a demonstration on the repair of pitch marks. 

Newly installed grass and mat walkway at the 10th tee

Plug taken from 10th fairway

Rebuilt 13th bunker

Saturday 17 March 2018

9th Path

The severity of slope to the 9th path, which exits the golf course to the main car park has long been problematic for many of our members. In addition to this, during periods of heavy rainfall the path would wash out, become rutted and deposit granite dust onto the course rendering the area unsightly.
Steep incline to car park

Washout onto semi-rough
To remedy these problems the path had to be completely reconstructed. The angle and position had to be changed to allow for ease of exit through a longer, gradual slope and to be blended into the existing land.

Short, steep and unsightly

In all 100 tons of sand back fill, 20 tons of hardcore, 10 tons of hogging, 50 square meters of bod pave and 5 tons of granite dust were used on the project. The bod pave is the product we used to address the issue of washout, it is laid on the finished path and filled with granite dust, this stabilizes the surface preventing ruts and washout.

Sand backfill

Path and bank foundations

Bank turfed, hardcore and hoggin infilled. Bodpave laid

Bodpave back filled with granite dust

Completed view from car park

Completed view from 9th walk off

Completed view from 9th fairway

Wednesday 7 March 2018

Knocking Back Succession

During the winter of 2016/17 we scheduled a renovation project to enlarge the men's 12th tee complex. Being a par 3 the original tee was too small to sustain excess wear and over time had become uneven and bumpy. In addition to this the tee complex was still on the old irrigation set up of 360 degree heads. These heads had over many years been watering the surrounding areas of the tee complex which in turn led to the open dune land becoming over vegetated with thick rank grasses and scrub. 

View from the 12th tee complex

Over vegetated grass and scrub
With plans in place to enlarge the tee and install an irrigation set up to just water the tees surface a decision was made to revert the scrub to the front and side of the tee back to its natural state. This concept derived from annual visits from Bob Taylor and Sophie Vukelic who are ecology consultants for the Sports Turf Research Institution. They advised that to knock back succession in many over vegetated areas of the course we could adopt a practice of removing scrub completely, scraping back to bare sand thus restoring many areas of our sand based course back to their natural state.

Through their advise and support we had already successfully carried out a number of small trial areas along the 8th carry, these were met with such positive feed back from members that we had no hesitation in deciding to carry out the ecological reversals required around the 12th tee complex.

Open vista over natural dune land

Returned to natural dune land

It wasn't until the project had been completed that our intentions turned to entering the Golf Environment Awards. This is something that the club has been involved in for a number of years with our aim being to improve the ecological value of the course.

The greenkeeping team had done such a fantastic job of not only rebuilding the entire tee complex but successfully and sympathetically returning the area back to it's native dune environment. Even though everything we do is a team effort a special mention must go to Deputy Head Greenkeeper Richard Le Moignan and Mechanic/Greenkeeper Gary Denton who led the entire project from start to finish, thier dedication and enthusiasm in poor weather conditions is to be applauded.

Their hard work and commitment over the winter months was rewarded when news came through from the Golf Environment Awards that we had made the long list in the category Outstanding Environmental Project of the Year. Following the judging process which is carried out by industry leading professionals, we were informed we had made the short list and were finalists invited to attend the awards ceremony held in Harrogate during the British Turf Managers Exhibition.

Unfortunately we were not bestowed the honor of outright winners but the fact we were one of four finalists in a nationally recognized award, and is attended by the industry's leading professionals and supported by the R&A has to be a feather in the cap for La Moye Golf Club.   

The Golf Environment Awards Finalist Trophy

Receiving the trophy on behalf of the club, Phil Bowler DHG, Andrew Ricketts HG and Richard Cutler GM

Tuesday 28 November 2017

Grassland Management

During the Autumn we brought in a contractor to undertake grassland management work to a number of rough areas on holes 1, 2, 5, 7, 9, 14, 16 and 18. The aim of this process is to thin out the rough grasses allowing for a wispy rough to come through in the spring, repeating this process annually will not only improve the aesthetics of the holes but will also prove to be less penal from wayward shots. 

Dense rough at 2nd green
Rough cut short and collected in one pass
Cut rough scarified and material collected

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Let there be air and light

Our 2nd green which is tucked away in the south west corner of the golf course has struggled in recent times with high disease pressures due to it's enclosed nature.This in part has much to do with the lack of air and light available to dry out the greens surface especially during the winter months. A section of the large stand of white poplar to the left hand approach and a large conifer branch which hung over the green were removed to allow increased air flow and light across the surface of the putting green. To the right hand side a stand of three holm oak were encroaching into the approach and if left unchecked would start influence the way the hole is played. One holm oak was removed completely while the other two were crown raised, this will allow a variety of golf shots to be played from the right hand side of the fairway.

Large conifer limb shadowing back quarter of 2nd green
Limb removed allowing direct sunlight to the surface
White poplar restricting airflow
White poplar thinned out to open up airflow through green complex
Encroaching holm oaks
One holm oak removed two more crown lifted


Tuesday 26 September 2017

Maintenance week Autumn 2017

Our Autumn maintenance week concluded 22/09/2017 and we were blessed with fine conditions, all scheduled  operations to greens and approaches have been successfully carried out by our dedicated green staff.

 A chemical application was made to greens two weeks prior to maintenance week. This application will kill the Rye grass, Yorkshire fog and weaken the coarse Bent grasses within our greens. The surface of the greens will yellow and patches of grass will die off, this is a normal reaction to the graminicide that has been applied.

Discolouring of coarse grasses
The greens are scarified in two directions at least 5mm below the surface using vertical cutting blades with tungsten tips. This will remove a proportion of organic matter from the thatch layer and rake through the dying coarse grasses.

Material removed through scarifying
Greens surface after scarification

This year we used two separate solid tine operations to aerate the greens. 8mm x 200mm tines and 6mm x 100mm tines punched small diameter holes into the soil profile at different depths. Aeration plays an important part in helping air and water move through the soil, air spaces between the soil particles will create gas exchanges to help break down thatch and provide space for root development.
200mm Verti-drain aeration
100mm Procore aeration
Again two different methods and seed were used to over-seed our greens. Shallow holes were made by a sorel roller in which 5Kg of  brown top bent seed was distributed per green. Fescue seed was inter-seeded behind the bent at 20g/m2. Persisting with this blend of grass species will provide us with the optimum putting surfaces year round.

Sorel rolling with bent seed
Inter-seeding with fescue seed
Greens, surrounds and approaches have all been sand-dressed and worked into the surface. In all around 60 tons of straight sand has been applied to the greens complex's to restore levels following the invasive work already carried out. Dressing not only aids us in the reinstatement of the surface but also dilutes thatch, improves water infiltration, firmness and trueness. Further light dressings will be applied as necessary.

Straight sand dressing
Working in dressings
All through these processes the greens complex's were cleared of debris, cut and ironed to ensure we could provide the best surfaces possible following the invasive procedures. The use of hole stabilizing rings will be used temporarily to aid the initial instability around the hole, these will not be used in qualifying competitions and will be removed completely following re-establishment of the surface. 

Hole stabilization
In addition to our normal routine maintenance work the surrounds and approaches of 10, 11 and 12 needed extra attention this year. Thatch and Rye grass infestation has become problematic leading to poor surfaces. The Rye grass had been sprayed prior to maintenance week then we set about removing as much thatch as possible by taking cores from the soil profile using a hollow tine. These cores were left to dry before being broken up with the scarifier, the thatch material removed through this process was blown to the sides and picked up. Straight fescue was inter-seeded and cyclone spread over the tine holes with 12 tons of sand dressing applied and further sand dressing scheduled to reinstate the surfaces.

Hollow tine
Cores on surface
Breaking up cores
Thatch material removed