Friday, 25 February 2011

Remodelling Hole 14

What started as a fairly straight forward bunker refurb job pretty quickly grew some arms and legs. It was clear that each of the two bunkers on hole 14 had problems before we started we just didn't know exactly how many! We knew that the sand in the bunker on the right had become contaminated with stone which had come up from the underlying bedrock, it also had access problems with  its high back and deep step in. The bunker on the left also had access issues on top of the fact that it clearly did not sit well in its surroundings. So we set out at the start of this week to rectify the problems. The plan was to lower the entrance into the right hand bunker, rebuild the revetted face and install a base lining to stop future contamination of the sand. On the left side we decided to move the bunker 2 metres down hill to make space to shape the ground from the adjacent mound on the left hand side. This would also lend itself to allowing easier access into the back of the bunker enabling us to get rid of the steps which have caused some rules problems.

Once we had stripped the turf from each side we cleared the right hand bunker face and base and set to work revetting the new face. Meanwhile, the excavator was busy digging out the bunker on the left using the material to fill the old bunker. As we tried to create a bunker that looked the part we came to realise that more ground than anticipated would need to be dug up so as to achieve the right result. We took the decision to lift the entire green approach and a small section of the green itself to allow us to carry out ground reshaping work on a wider scale. We feel this action was necessary to create a natural looking  end result with the land flowing naturally from the green, through the bunkers and into the surrounding mounds and hollows.


Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Verti-Draining Greens

Last week all putting surfaces received another pass with the verti-drain sub-surface aerator. This machine punches holes in the turf to a depth of up to twelve inches. The action of the machine is designed 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.

Following the aeration works, a pedestrian cylinder mower was used to roll each green smooth. Further rolling with the turf irons will take place to ensure surface disruption is minimised. The holes will take around 10 days to heal on the surface of the green but will stay open below the surface for much longer giving agronomic benefit for months to come.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Course Reconstruction Plans

Following a vote carried out at the Special General Meeting held in the clubhouse on Tuesday 1st February, the plans to reconstruct the greens and associated areas on holes 10-12 will now go ahead. Work is scheduled to start in early October 2011 and should be completed in January 2012. All holes will reopen by May 2012 at the latest. Further news on this exciting project will be posted here in the coming weeks and months.

February Course Update

Despite some difficult weather conditions, work on rebuilding and reshaping some of the most worn out bunkers has progressed well. The bunkers by the 5th and 14th greens and the two bunkers to the left side of the 1st green are now completely refurbished and will be back in play in time for the start of the new season. Some members have commented on the depth of the new bunkers, it should be noted that before they are reopened, these bunkers will each receive between one and three tonnes of sand to raise the level of the bunker floor. However, it is important that no sand is added until the bunker turf has knitted together so as to prevent the new turf from being damaged by sand blowout. Excessive levels of foot traffic can also damage the new turf so it is vital that these areas are protected at this crucial stage. Ropes, posts and hoops are used to guide players around these vulnerable areas and I would urge all members to please walk around not through and over the fences to ensure these areas are given every chance to survive these first few weeks when there is little or no grass growth.

Course Ecology 

More Marram grass has been planted in the sand dunes between the 11th and 13th holes following the tree removal work of 2009. The areas remain highly sensitive to disturbance so please take care when retrieving balls from the marked areas so as not to disturb the young plants. 

Work on the gorse around the course is due to start soon as per the Ecological Management Plan. Two or three clearings will be made in the band of gorse that runs between holes 4 and 5. The gorse in this area has become very woody and degenerate following many years of neglect. We plan to pull some of the oldest gorse plants out to make space for new young plants to establish and to allow space for the rather rare plant sharp rush to flourish. On hole 8, the gorse on the right side from the tee to the road will be tackled. This has also become rather degenerate over the years whilst also blocking the view from the tee of cars accessing the course due to the outward gradual encroachment of the gorse. Some of the trees in the area around holes 2, 4 and 5 will be felled in the coming weeks. Only a relatively small number of trees are planned for removal this winter following the much larger scale works carried out in previous years.  

The stand of Blackthorn behind the 4th green is another area in need of attention. This shrub provides an important habitat for birds but it is also an aggressive species. Its growth and spread is in need of control so as to open up the views towards the coastline. In the coming weeks the plant will be cut back and trimmed down to a height of around 1 metre.

Aerating The Turf

Aeration is one of the most important maintenance tasks carried out on turf. The word aeration means quite simply to get air into something. In turf it is simply the production of holes through the turf surface into the underlying rootzone (soil) to allow gases (oxygen etc.) in and out of the soil and for water and grass roots to move down through the soil. Since October we have been running two verti-drain type machines over all areas of the course. Fairways and high wear walkways were tackled first, followed by greens and their surrounds. These machines allow us to make lots of holes in the turf and at sufficient depth to enable the movement of water more quickly through the soil beneath. The action of these particular machines also allows a certain amount of "heave" to be put on the soil. This lifts the level of the ground slightly allowing air and moisture to penetrate and relieve compacted areas. Compaction in the turf is caused by the regular movement of people or machinery over an area, wet soils compact more easily as the water in the soil acts as a lubricant allowing the particles to slide closer together and form a bond. We plan to make one further pass over the greens and surrounds with the verti-drain in the middle of February.

Other Upcoming Work
Before the start of the new golfing season we plan to strip the turf from the 16th tee in order to make adjustments to the surface levels. There has been a degree of settlement on one side of the tee over the years causing a noticeable sloping of the surface. This work will be completed and the turf sufficiently healed in time for the start of the new season.
Rabbits continue to cause serious problems. We are once again stepping up our control measures as we move into the early spring period. Repairs to the perimeter fence are taking place to ensure the populations in the surrounding land are kept out. A fairly large-scale rabbit hole patching programme will begin in the second half of February.

Blogging Resumed

Following an extended period of inactivity I intend to resume blogging with immediate effect. The following few posts will cover the main work that has been carried on the course since mid-December.