Monday, 16 January 2017

A belated happy new year

Firstly apologies for the lack of blogging, im having a few technical issues with a new phone, resorting back to my old methods I can bring everyone an update on whats been going on here on the course. Firstly last week we had some snowfall, the first of the winter, it was only a couple of centimeters however it was enough to cause a little disruption. We had to close the course for the morning until we got sufficient melt to allow play to start.

Since we have come back from our Christmas break machinery servicing and concentrating on painting summer markers has been our main objective. The team are doing really well and we are coming to the end of the markers, however there are more pieces of course furniture to bring in and stain/ paint, which isnt too bad as we have a couple of staff members carrying injuries at the moment. Our greens chairman is helping make some fixed bins which we hope will solve the litter issues which comes from the open wire bins we currently have on the course.

The machinery servicing schedule is going well we have completed a few of the smaller machines, repairing where needed and checking all moving parts for wear and tear to ensure they are ready to last another season without too many issues. All oils and filters are replaced and all cutting units are sharpened 'in house'. As time goes by the machines get to a point where servicing and running costs out weigh the cost of replacement, sometimes older machines become inefficient and labour intensive compared to some of the newer machines which are available nowadays. So when planning a replacement schedule I look at the overall running costs and how we can maximise the labour we have available.

Hedge cutting and shrub pruning is continuing

The irrigation installation is underway, the base for the tanks has been excavated and the hardcore is being transported in preparation for the concrete to be poured. We have removed a section of hedge to allow access to the range without making to much mess around the range entrance. The pipework is being stretched out to prevent it snagging during installation. This will be pulled out on to the course so its ready to be ploughed in. Their starting point is on holes 2-7, this is going to be the most difficult area of the course as its very stoney and the topsoil is very shallow in places. Once the crossing point is reached ( between the 2nd hole and the 11th green ) the going should be easier. All control boxes are to be replaced and new valve sets to be installed. The contractors are aware of the ground conditions and any damage made will be reinstated as best possible. Further updates will be posted later this week. Holes 1-9 will be closed for a number of days until the work is complete. Again further updates will be posted as to hole closure and information will  be passed to the pro shop.  The range may also have closures to protect staff safety during transportation of materials.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas

As the year winds to a close this is my last blog of the year. Before staff numbers reduced due to holidays we managed to finish some outstanding jobs, ready to start a new year on the front foot. The remaining section of the 16th ditch was turfed leaving the walls just to do. This is looking great and the team have done a great job. 

All the leaves are now picked up and this again has been a long process but the course is looking really tidy. The recent windy weather will scatter some around the course again , however we will tidy any debris left from the storms when we return to work. 

The greens have all been tined using cross tines to a depth of 200mm. This will definately aid surface drainage, I had noticed slow water penetration during heavy rain. This could be due the use of the rollers which we have used more often instead of cutting which can help reduce stress on the plant during inclement weather. If we do get heavy rains over Christmas we will have a better chance of staying on the summer greens rather than using the winter holes. They were rolled twice following aeration to smooth the surface however I appreciate they won't be as smooth as they were before. Such as the 2nd green which was poor compared to the rest should certainly now see improvements following tining. 
Finally can I say a big thanks to my team for producing such a great course this year and for all the hard work that is put in to give Malton and Norton Golf Club members a course to be proud of. I hope all that have played here have a great Christmas and we will see you again in the new year. 

Friday, 16 December 2016


Over the last week the weather has been exceptionally mild for the time of the year, this with the combination of no wind and cool nights brings pockets of fog. The course is situated in a small valley, with rolling countryside all around us often leads to fog pockets which sits around the River Derwent and the low lying land. Sometimes only a few miles away the fog can be a lot less dense, if any at all. We currently have a fog policy which has been put in place to ensure safety of golfers and staff on the course is paramount. We cant have anyone being at an increased risk due to low visibility when playing golf here at Malton and Norton. The policy states that 'the course is deemed unplayable and golfers can't start their round if a specific point (the copper beech tree) 250yards from the men's white tee on the 10th is NOT CLEARLY VISIBLE'. If the circumstances are such that the course is playable when golfers start their round and then visibility reduces, the policy then states 'golfers can't continue their round if visibility reduces such that they cant see CLEARLY where their intended shot will finish'. I must reiterate that golfers must be able to see the tree and where they arte hitting the ball clearly, we have witnessed circumstances that we deem dangerous, once on the golf course its is the golfers responsibility to determine if they are playing safely or not, however if we feel these rules are not being followed we will report anyone that put the safety of staff or golfers at risk. Please speak to the pro shop before starting your round as they will advise the current situation regarding playability. Thank you

Elsewhere on the course we have been busy tidying the last of the leaves, with only a few piles left to collect we have just about come to the end of the leaf collection season, the team have done a fantastic job and the course is looking great for the time of year. We have vibrate rolled the greens and they are too holding up well for December, I would urge all golfers to repair as many pitch marks as possible, even if they are not your own, as any scars left by unrepaired pitch marks will remain until spring. The greens have been sprayed with a preventative fungicide to stop fusarium, which rife at the moment due to the unseasonal warm weather. This should help reduce disease activity until January.
Machine servicing is continuing, the majority of machines will be started on in the new year, as we may need them to cut the course before Christmas if growth continues.
The surrounds and approaches are being vertidrained, using 12mm x 200mm tines. The greens will also be vertidrained next week, we hope not too cause to much disruption, however I feel its vital we get some aeration to the wettest greens especially. We will use cross tines which are less disruptive to the surface, while providing good depth and decompaction. They were slit tined last week and we will hopefully do them again followed by the fairways should time allow around Christmas

Friday, 9 December 2016

Ditch work on the 16th

This week we have been turfing the 16th fairway drainage ditch. Due to the weather, frosty on Monday and Tuesday then heavy rain forecast for Thursday, we had to lay all 180 m2 of turf on Wednesday. The team have worked really well to get that section of the ditch complete. Please could I ask golfers NOT to step on the turf and to use the ball scoops provided to recover balls from the ditch until the turf has had chance to root. We now have to build the end walls using reclaimed stone from the course on this section, the other small section will be done hopefully before Christmas.

Hedge cutting has been progressing well with the leylandii being cut on holes 1-12. This will continue into the new year.

Please can I make all golfers aware that before any buggies are used on the course you must check in the pro shop as to weather restrictions for their use are being implemented for that day. For instance,when it is severely frosty, restrictions will be put in place to make users aware that they cant be taken onto fairways. This is to ensure long term damage is not done to any short cut turf on the course. Any traffic travelling over frozen turf will crush the cell walls of the plant leaving it exposed to the elements, this can be seen a couple of days after the damage has been done as blackening of the grass plants. Depending on the severity of the damage, plants can recovery if there is enough of the plant healthy enough to do so, long term damage is done when heavier traffic causes more damage and the plants are no longer able to recover. In the later instance the blackening would lead to brown, where the grass begins to die.
Here are a few examples of very poor use of buggies and the marks they leaves just 2 days later.

Not just the fact they have been driving down the fairway, they have also been taken very close to the greens edge, the general rule, not only when its frosty but at all times, is to keep a minimum distance of 5 meters from greens and tees to help prevent damage. This also applies to trollies.

We also implement restrictions in wet weather for the safety of golfers on the course, please also abide by any rules and restrictions for day to day use.
Else where leaf collection is coming to an end, with most of them collected up. We have applied a slow release iron to all the greens, tees, surrounds and approaches, this will help recovery from play during the winter months. We have now put all markers on to the winter tees, with most of the new mats in play.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Tree work

With hole closures more frequent, and very little growth we have started to carry out some of the jobs that have been waiting for this time of the year. Firstly all the winter tees have been turfed, following on from Eddie Ruddocks work. These will need a few weeks to allow the turf to root before golfers walk over it.
We have also had a tree surgeon to look at a few dangerous trees, firstly the willow at the rear of the 10th green was leaning quite badly.

After we had three tree surgeons to look at the tree, all three agreed it was not immediately going to fall but a section of decay within the trunk would spread weakening one side and eventually it would break off. I decided the safest option was to remove the tree, if it did go it is in an area where golfers pass constantly, also it would have fallen on to the leylandii hedge, ruining its shape. The tree surgeon took it down piece by piece, the only damage a bit of a muddy area where we were working. There was also two dying leylandii (of a different species to the rest of the hedge) that have been removed and will be replanted to match the rest of the hedge. The fence will also be replaced over the next few weeks.

Hers a picture of the rot spreading in the trunk, believed to be caused by an old branch which would have stemmed off the side of the tree.

And a section from higher up the tree, the dark area is the rot beginning to take effect.
We also took down two dead elm trees near the buggy/trolley shed which were dangerous. Whilst at the club I took him to see a number of other trees which I felt were effected by decay. Unfortunately a large ash tree near the 15th ladies tee also needs to be removed because of the angle at which it is leaning. Most of the others can be left with judicial removal of dead and decaying wood.

Finally we are now beginning to look at the irrigation installation, I visited Moortown and Sand moor golf clubs in Leeds to see their installations. Thanks to Steve, John and Rob for allowing me to look around their facilities. Moortown has had a full installation this Autumn and Sandmoor had a full installation 8 years ago. They have parts of their systems which are identical to that being installed at Malton and Norton Golf Club, it was good to see first hand what we are going to get for our money. The installations have been completed by Full Circle which are the contractors we are using. We hope to begin our installation in January 2017 with an approximate 10 week work schedule weather dependant.

This week we hope to get most of the leaves collected, a lot have now fallen and we are nearing the end. We are also going to start slit tining the greens and applying some iron to most surfaces. Next week we are beginning to turf the 16th ditch when we have hole closure on 10-18 Monday -Wednesday

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Winter golf

With the recent wet, cold and wintery weather it feels like the winter golf season is upon us, last weekend we had a very wet Friday into Saturday which left the greens and surrounding areas saturated and unfortunately for the first time since the 16th April this year the course was closed for the day. Even though we battled to push off water and get the course playable there was going to be damaged caused that would be detrimental to the course long term. Thankfully the weather improved late Saturday and into Sunday and we could reopen. With more wet weather likely to be coming across the country over the coming months we will start installing the winter cups and cutting out winter holes which we can use on fairway areas should the greens not be fit for play.

After a couple of frosty mornings I have noticed some golfers are still not keeping to the semi during frost conditions, and knocking ice from shoes before walking onto the greens. We try to present greens in the best possible condition for this time of year, however after only a few golfers have played through the first hole the surface can look very poor due to ice impressions from footwear or buggy damage. Below are pictures taken after just one four-ball has played the 10th hole.

Leaf collection is still high on the daily agenda, however it does seem we are getting through the intense fall period. A number of trees are starting to become bare and in these areas we can thoroughly tidy the grass knowing we can keep it tidy for a while. The other areas are still being blown and rounded for collection.

The greens have been sprayed with a preventative fungicide, the current wet and warmer conditions are ideal for disease and left untreated can spread quickly. We noticed a little on a few greens before application, however weather windows for application are few and far between at this time of the year.

Eddie has now completed installation of winter tees for this winter. We now have winter tees on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 12th and 13th holes. Please give feed back to the sizes used and the playability of them during all conditions when in use.

Certain wet areas around the greens have been hand forked to alleviate compaction, these are usually the areas we cant access or work on very easily with the vertidrain due to ground conditions or slopes.

The path down to the 21st tee has now been re-stoned and covered with a cement based product which I'm hoping will stop the stone from being washed down the slope during heavy rainfall as it previously did.

This week due to leaves, rain and lack of growth we have cut the greens and surround only. Other areas are slowing in growth and do not warrant cutting yet.

The trial I did on the driving range regarding the worm cast irritant and leaving an area untreated to see its effects is now shown the effectiveness and need for worm control. The picture below is part of the area I did not spray compared to an area which has been treated (bottom picture). Although the treated area is still a little muddy from cutting there is very few new casts compared to the untreated area.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

leaves and lots of them

Recently the daily maintenance centres around leaves, they are coming down thick and fast. The windy conditions over the weekend have spread them all over the course which doesn't make life easy for the staff. We have to concentrate on clearing the greens every day, weather its to cut, roll or simply just to ensure they are playable for golfers for the days play. Following on from that we then have to start rounding them up from tees, fairways and semi rough before collection continues and is ongoing between all other tasks.

Before the recent rain we managed to get all the tees and some of the surrounds vertidrained. We had a demo tractor thanks to Russells ground care, we are looking to replace at least one of the tractors this winter. It worked well on the vertidrain, and overall was a great improvement on our current vehicles. The vertuidrain has now gone off for repair and service as there was a number of issues after a years use. When it returns I hope to continue to vertidrain a number of problem wet areas.

Overall the course is looking good and most surfaces are coping well as we start to get a feel of winter arriving. At the next opportunity we will spray the greens with a preventative fungicide to help reduce the chance of fusarium disease attacking the turf. We are now reducing cut frequencies as growth has slowed due to a number of cold days and nights. Hand cutting is not needed as yet, other than the front putting green, when ground conditions deteriorate then we would look to cut by hand to reduce compaction and wear around greens and tees.

Over the last few days we have had a spell of wet weather which has caused a few problems, generally the course is hold up well, it is the usual wet spots that we have had to put hoops out to prevent long term damage, please do not move the traffic management aids, ie hoops and ropes to access areas of the course that are restricted. We put these in place to ensure the course is in reasonable condition in the spring.

We have washed off sand from the heavily used bunkers, up to 10cm of sand can accumulate over the course of the year, if this is not removed can build up over time and eventually the face will have to be replaced. After the sand is washed off the bunker is left to drain off and the debris is then collected before the sand is redistributed and raked.

Neville Maw the hedge cutting contractor has been to cut all the hedges that can be done by machine, following this the remaining sections are cut by hand over the next month or so.

Now growth is slowing we will aim to start turfing the 16th ditch that was excavated over a month ago. Its good to see the ditch is already running water to the outlet.

Eddie Ruddock and his team are going to install another 4 winter tees next week, we are to trial half sized sections on two tees to evaluate weather this would be feasible for future winter tees.

About Me

Im the Head Greenkeeper at Malton and Norton Golf Club. I began my greenkeeping career at Malton and Norton Golf Club straight from school as an Assistant Greenkeeper. Wanting to climb the greenkeeping ladder I gained my NVQ level 2 and 3 at Askham Bryan College. I continued with my education gaining a HNC in golf course management and took the position of Deputy Head Greenkeeper at Malton and Norton Golf Club in 2005.In 2008 I was promoted to the position of Head Greenkeeper, leading a team of 6 hard working and dedicated Greenkeepers. Our aim is to continue to improve the condition of the course year on year maintaining our high reputation within the area.