Tuesday, 22 March 2016

A New Season

A New Season Begins

The past few weeks have been extremely busy for the course team in preparation for the start of the main golfing season. A persistent and frigid north-easterly wind has been causing some concern but hopefully now the worst has passed and temperatures will begin to rise. Most of our work has revolved around the Captains Drive In which was held on Saturday and making sure that the course is looking its best in these challenging conditions. We moved swiftly on from that competition straight into maintenance week which is now in full flow.

New Machinery

Last week the club took delivery of a pedestrian aerator which we believe will make huge improvements to our ability to maintain quality, healthy surfaces. The Toro Procore is the leading machine on the market and is already showing its quality in its first week on the job. After brief training due to user friendliness and maneuverability the Procore has been used this week to aerate the greens and surrounds in minimal time and with minimal disturbance. The machine is so fast that we have even been able to utilise it on other areas whilst waiting for other machinery to finish.

The team being trained on the Procore

We hope that this increase in speed and lack of disturbance will allow us to perform these operations more frequently with less interruption to play whilst continuing to improve playing surfaces.

Maintenance week

This years spring maintenance follows a similar plan to last year with the added bonus of the new machinery to our fleet. Following on from an application of lawn sand last week to control moss we began by scarifying the greens and surrounds in two directions to remove the dead moss and thatch buildup.

Scarifying 15th green

The organic material that has been removed

The surface showing scarifyer grooves

Once the greens had been scarified we followed with the Procore to aerate to a depth of around 3 inches. The greens were then ironed to avoid any compaction from the topdresser. The greens have been topdressed with straight sand which is brushed into the scarified grooves, aeration holes and fills any other imperfections in the surface and dilutes any thatch present.

Procore being used on the 13th green

Aerated surface ready for top dressing

10th green after top dressing
Now that the easterly winds have died down we hope that the soil temperatures will rise and spring growth will begin. Then we can resume our summer cutting regime and begin preparations for this years tournaments.

New Bunkers

The members will have noticed that the new bunkers on the 16th and 18th fairways are now open and ready for play. The addition of clean sand has given a good finish and we are very happy with all the  winter projects.

Clean sand added

The finished product


Whilst we have finished with our big ecology projects of the winter we are still continuing work on this front. Some of the greenkeepers are involved in beginning to survey the species of birds present on the course which will be beneficial in tailoring our bird boxes. Raith Miller in particular is working hard on creating different types of boxes so that we can maximise the species present. Hopefully this along with the new sandy waste areas which can benefit species such as mining bees will allow the ecology of the course to flourish this summer.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Course Update

Course Update

Whilst the weather is yet to improve and we have had to deal with some high rainfall in the past few weeks, winter is coming to an end and the golfing season is fast approaching. This time of year is spent making the finishing touches to our construction projects, completing ecology works ready for spring and preparing the golf course for the coming season. I will touch on all of these points in this post and show the hard work the team has been doing in challenging conditions.

Course Maintenance

Both the greens and tees have been given their first verti-draining of the year with pencil tines to a depth of around 8". This is to improve air and water movement in the profile and has numerous benefits to plant health. This was followed by 10 tonnes of straight sand top dressing on the greens as part of  our on-going thatch dilution program. We have been managing the greens carefully throughout the winter with particular care to avoid excessive weight on the surfaces. A combination of hand cutting and ironing has allowed us to maintain performance even during the extreme wet weather.

Pencil tining greens

Applying sand top dressing to greens
The members will also notice that a cutting and scarifying operation has been completed around the 9th green. This bank had become rank with Ryegrass and any balls played into the area were more than likely to be lost. Now that it has been cut we will allow it to regenerate whilst managing it to avoid it again becoming too dense.


The flooding on the service track behind the 14th green has been a long running problem and having completed our tees construction we began work on resolving this issue. The track has been raised with hardcore, drainage sumps installed and the surrounding area returfed.

The finished product


After the success of the sandy waste area created on the 8th carry, another area has now been established on the opposite side. The principle for this area has been the same however we did not have to bury as much gorse in the process and were careful to avoid some small heather plants in the surrounding vegetation.

Small heather plants amongst the existing vegetation

Before and after photos of the second area
As with the first area we have planted a mixture of natural sand dune species on the site including Marram, Dune rose and Bents. Creating these areas improves sustainability as they require little management, benefit the environment and speed up play as golfers are more likely to be able to find and play their shot. With the completion of these two areas we are starting to form a link between the front and back nines. Whilst La Moye will never again look as it did in 1902 when George Boomer first laid out his holes in the dunes, in the coming years we hope to return at least some of the course to its natural links pedigree. Notice the sandy waste bunker in the foreground of the photo below (Photo from 'The Boomer Legacy')

The 18th green in 1938