Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Bunker Renovation

For the past few weeks we have been refubishing the bunkers around the course. So far we have focused our efforts on holes 16, 17 and 18 with a total of 12 bunkers completed so far.
When planning bunker renovations there are a number of factors we take into consideration. Firstly the existing style of course bunkering is examined. We currently have a mix of "rolled in" turf bunkers and also sod stacked/revetted bunkers. We aim to develop a consistant style throughout the course and have decided to use the revetted style in all future bunker refurbishments.
Next we look at the position of the bunkers. With the advances in golf ball and club technology bunkers can become obselete. Before rebuilding any bunker we must decide whether the bunker is still best placed from a strategic perspective. Is the bunker still doing the job it was originally designed to do?
Finally we look at the bunker from an architectual perspective. Is it in keeping with the surrounding ground and the hole in general?, Does the bunker contribute positively to the aesthetic appeal of the hole?
If we are satisfied the bunker is in the correct location then we proceed with the work. If we decide that significant alterations are required, we will engage our golf course architect to carry out a detailed assessment before we proceed.

Here is one of the bunkers from around the 18th green on the day worked commenced.

1. Stripping turf from around the bunker

2. Removing the old bunker face

3. Digging out and shaping the surrounding ground

4. Laying the first rows of turf to form the shape

5. The finished bunker

All refurbished bunkers will remain out of play through the winter months. In late February the bunkers will have sand added and packed firm before being shaped properly ready for play. Please be aware that the depth of the bunkers will reduce considerably when the sand is added thus making player access easier.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Holm Oak Clearance

This week we have contractors on site clearing holm oak trees on holes 17 and 18 and from around the chipping area. The holm oak is an aggressive species which colonises areas rapidly if left unchecked. Once it gains a foothold it can turn an open landscape into woodland in a remarkably short space of time.

Holes 15-18 at La Moye are blessed with some of the best views to be found anywhere in Jersey. Unfortunately, over the years the unchecked spread of the holm oak has all but eliminated these views in some areas. In conjunction with our Ecological Management Plan we have embarked on a phased programme of holm oak clearance to open up the beautiful vistas we are blessed with. Some of the results are quite startling.

View From 18th Tee Prior To Works

View From 18th Following Clearance

There will be a large amount of clearing up to do once the contractors have left the site. We will reinstate the ground by scraping back to bare earth then seeding lightly with appropriate grasses. Holm Oak saplings will be removed as they emerge to ensure the area does not succumb to infestation in the future.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Temporary Closure Of Holes 17 and 18

Monday 17th – Friday 21st November

Holes 17 and 18 will be closed for 5 days to allow an intensive bunker refurbishment programme to be undertaken. Whilst the bunker work is being carried out J le Maistre Tree Surgery Ltd. will be clearing Holm Oaks on the same holes. This measure has been taken to protect course staff while working in greenside bunkers and to allow the free movement of machinery without disruption to members. In the event of the work being completed early then the holes will reopen earlier than planned.

The course staff would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused but trust members will understand the importance of this work taking place in a safe and timely manner.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Robin Dagger

In an attempt to penetrate the layer of silt/clay material found under some of our greens we have been using a machine called a Robin Dagger. As can be seen in the video below, a single metal probe is driven into the soil profile to a depth of 50cm. Once fully inserted a burst of high pressure air is fired horizontally in two directions at the base of the hole. The air pressure used is around 135psi. This helps open the compacted silt/clay layer creating channels for water to drain into the sandy sub layer. We then fill the holes with sand to keep the channels open for as long as possible.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Tee Scarification

This week we are using the tractor mounted scarifier to remove thatch from tee surfaces. This job ideally requires dry weather so the vast amount of organic matter that we remove can be picked up from the tee surface easily. Two men are required to scrape the material up and then load onto trailers. The material is then added to the compost heap. The remaining material is then blown off the surface before finally the tee is cut to finsh the job off. We will top dress the tees with sand which will be worked into the grooves. This will help dilute the remaining thatch and will also level the playing surface. This process will be repeated on the 2nd and 4th fairways in the coming months to help improve firmness in these rather soft areas.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Winter Work On The Courses

"You'll not be as busy on the course now the season has finished"

Course staff here this comment from well intentioned players regularly but in fact nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, we are even busier in the winter than we are in the summer. As a young apprentice greenkeeper I recall my boss telling me "when the grass stops growing the real work can start" This seemed a strange comment to make, after all ,what could there be to do on a golf course in the winter? I was soon to learn that there are a number of vital tasks carried out every winter that go unnoticed by most people but are crucial for the long term health of the golf course.

Sub-Surface Aeration

This winter we will use a range of equipment designed to aerate the soil to varying depths. A slit tining machine will be used on greens, surrounds and approaches to make knife like cuts in the turf to a depth of around six inches. This task will be carried out around three times each month with the primary aim being to allow air and water penetrate into the soil profile helping keep the surface as dry as possible.

A slit tine machine

A verti-drain machine will be used on greens, tees, fairways and approaches. This machine punches holes in the turf to a depth of up to twelve inches. The main aim with this machine is to relieve compaction and improve the movement of water through the soil profile. Surfaces that are kept drier are much less prone to disease, compaction and general sward deterioration. In the longer term the holes made with the verti-drain will provide the perfect space for the grass roots to grow into. Long grass roots are needed to help the plants withstand periods of drought in summer.

The Verti-drain machine in action

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Maintenance Week 2008

Our summer maintenance week commenced on the 26th August. The work undertaken this year has been mainly focused on the greens with hollow coring, top-dressing and overseeding being carried out. I will endeavour to explain why these processes take place and what benefits we hope hope to achieve;

Hollow coring has been carried for two main reasons -
1) To remove thatch from the greens, which in turn helps water and air move more freely into and through the soil. This helps keep the surface of the greens dry and promotes general turf health and vigour.
2) To provide an effective seedbed. The holes made on the green are ideal for sowing seed into and provide the perfect haven for new young grass plants to grow.

Hollow coring on the putting green

Overseeding is carried out to improve the overall grass species composition in the sward. Three varieties of Fescue grass were used. These particular plants have the ideal characteristics for golf green purposes and increased numbers of fescue grasses will dramatically improve the year round conditions on the greens. You may have noticed the yellow patches on some of the greens recently, this is a turf disease called anthracnose and certain grass species are particularly susceptible to attack from it. It can kill the affected area if left unchecked and at the very least it will cause an uneven putting surface. The fine fescue grasses we are using this week are not susceptible to this disease, so the more of this grass species we can encourage the healthier our greens will be.

Top-dressing helps smooth the surface following the core aeration work. The sand/soil mix was applied very lightly to the surface of the green on two occasions this week. One application was made before the seed was sown and one after. Hopefully, down each tine hole we have a few fescue seeds sandwiched between two layers of top dressing. All we now need is the constant presence of a little moisture and some heat and we will have success. Top dressing has a number of other benefits to the turf on which I may make a separate posting later on.

Top-dressing putting green

I hope golf has not been too disrupted while this work has been taking place but I'm sure everyone would agree that the potential benefits make the temporary inconvenience worthwhile.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

For All Players Who Appreciate Smooth Greens

This season, in an attempt to highlight the problem of unrepaired pitchmarks, the course staff placed a golf ball on every unrepaired or badly repaired pitchmark on the 7th green. We arrived with 200 balls and had run out before we got half way up the green.

200 pitchmarks on the 7th green

As you can see from the photo above, achieving true putting surfaces with so many indentations in the green is an almost impossible task. The course staff respectfully request that all members endeavour to -

  • Spend the time waiting for a playing partner to line up and
    putt, looking for any pitch marks around where you stand,
    then at an appropriate moment repair as many as is possible
    without holding play up.
  • Actively point out a pitch mark left by a fellow player, so
    he/she has the opportunity to repair it. (Their ball may well not
    have finished on the green, but did pitch on it)

  • Repair it yourself if they are not prepared to repair it.

  • Remember that when repairing a pitch mark, you should ease
    the surrounding ground back into the hole with a fork, moving
    around the hole, not just from one side. Do not dig up the hole
    with your fork and then pat it down, this will tear the grass
    roots for some time, leaving a dead patch.

  • It is a proven fact that a pitch mark repaired within 10 minutes
    of being made will recover almost immediately, where as one
    that is left for a few hours will take 3 weeks.

How to repair a pitch mark on a green

Correct Method
1. Discard the loose piece of turf taken out by the ball
2. Insert the pitch mark repairer tool just outside of the back of the pitch mark
3. Lever the turf towards the centre of the pitch mark
4. Repeat this motion from all sides of the pitch mark
5. Gently tap the repaired area with your putter. This action stretches undamaged
turf over the pitch mark, providing instant recovery

Incorrect Method
1. DO NOT replace the loose piece of turf taken out by the ball. It will die and delay
the healing process.
2. DO NOT pry up the centre of the depression with the pitch mark repairer as it
exposes the soil and will delay the healing process
3. DO NOT insert the pitch mark repairer and twist it. This only breaks more turf

Monday, 28 July 2008

Ecological Management Plan

Rare wild Orchids in rough on hole 10

The Management Committee have engaged the Sports Turf Research Institute’s Ecology and Environment Unit to compile a Management Plan to ensure appropriate ecological management is undertaken to protect, enhance and preserve the various habitats that form the golf course and surrounding headland.

The purpose of the plan is to document the current and future requirements of the grasslands, gorse, trees and associated habitats on the golf course. We have over 400 species of flora and fauna on the course, many unique to their environment, all of which play a significant part in defining the experience at La Moye

Summary of management objectives –

· To enhance and maintain the prestigious nature of this links style course and to retain its reputation as a top class golfing venue.
· To recognise and conserve the landforms and associated habitats that play a fundamental part of the nature and quality of the golf course.
· Maintain the character of the golf course and the balance with the surrounding landscape.
· To display to members, visitors and local residents the wildlife value of the site and its importance to the local conservation framework.
· Promote and conserve the links landscape, which is underpinned by fixed dune grasslands, gorse and heather with occasional groups of native trees.
· Address the problem of continually establishing holm oak trees across the site.

Holm Oak Invasion Behind 12th Green

· Retain the size, health and connectivity of the different habitat types.
· Reinstate and conserve the botanical/ecological interest and diversity of the coastal fixed dune and species rich grasslands through appropriate management including ongoing tree/scrub removal.
· Recognise and ensure environmental sustainability through best practice by understanding and embracing new and developing environmental practices.

The rationale behind all suggested operations within the Management Plan is to ensure that we enhance the already superb golfing experience that La Moye has to offer. This pertains to both the strategic aspects of the course, ensuring the golfer has a challenging but fair round, and also to the aesthetic and nature conservation value of the site, which undoubtedly plays a significant part in the golfing experience, we all enjoy here at La Moye. We shall continue to consult with both the STRI and local experts in relation to the plan and proposed work which will include :-

· Coppicing, removing, planting and monitoring of gorse. To ensure plants remain healthy and are growing in the correct places.
· Removal of the invasive holm oak tree species, particularly on holes 10-14 where important fixed dune grasslands are being lost to this aggressively spreading tree species
· Timely cutting and scarifying of roughs to ensure stands remain generally open in nature and do not become too thick
· Management of bracken
· Arboreal work to retain the health of those trees we wish to retain

This is a very positive step in protecting the unique environment in which we play our golf and preserves the very distinct heritage, wildlife and character that defines La Moye.