Monday, 17 October 2016

Course work update

Over the last week or so a lot has been happening on the course, Firstly to update all on the construction work on the course.

As mentioned before the excavation of the ditch is now complete, all surrounding areas have been tidied ready for the final stage of turfing and shaping of the sides, the path is complete and has been stoned. This has improved the area in front of the tee greatly, this was a very wet place on the course and an area where traffic was 'bottlenecked' to reach the fairway, causing more wear and mess in poor conditions. Before the path was stoned we drained it to ensure there is little chance of standing water through winter.

At the 20th green banking, the subsoil has been shaped and topsoil added from the end of the range and raked ready for seeding or turfing.

The bunkers between 18 and 27 have also been covered in topsoil and are ready for seeding

The 22nd tee has been covered in rootzone and shaped/ levelled ready for turf

The hedge that was between the 23rd green and the new hedge that was planted at the end of the range and the 20th semi has been removed as was agreed during the original planned layout of that hole. That is to be tidied this week.

The last few days have brought us wetter conditions, over 25mm of rain falling within a 48 hour period. This has caused some issues due to the ground being so firm previously, after the recent spell of dry weather. Once the surface began to soften the water has drained away relatively easily, however the barer areas are looking chewed up. We have put out hoops and will need to start roping off areas if conditions prevail. Please try and avoid areas where they are starting to wear. Preferred lies are now on due to worm casts and softer conditions.

The white tees and the driving range tee will continue to be used until the tees get wetter, some tees are being placed on the front sections and such as the 11th are on the back tee of the 9th hole as the 11th tee gets very wet due to the underlying construction. The bigger markers are being put out to ensure they can be seen in the leaves that are falling.

The rainfall has tested the ditch on the 16th however. Even after such a small amount of rain there was water in the ditch which is always a good sign. It is worth noting that we don't expect to see water in the ditch all year round, the way we have excavated the base,will allow water to run to the outfall near the 15th ladies tee.

The greens have had an application of granular fertiliser, granular fertilisers are preferred at this time of the year as the amount of rainfall can be varied, heavy rainfall can leach the nutrients more quickly if applied via liquid. The granular fertilisers rely of water to breakdown the granules then to be taken up by the plants, therefore safer at this time of the year. 19-27 greens have had an application of lawn sand. This is a high iron content fertiliser, using sand to dilute the mix so it can be spread on to turf. The lawn sand we use is 1-0-0 + 9% iron, but there are a number of different mixes available with differing contents of nitrogen, potassium and iron. The application rate is also quite high to ensure even application is gained.

Work has started with regular blowing of greens, tees and fairways to remove leave debris, after the last week of cooler weather they are coming down fast. The leaf cage has been assembled and is ready to go within the next week or so. To try and look at more efficient solutions to problems, namely leaf collection we have been looking at alternatives to what we currently have. We had a demo of a collection machine, which could not only be used for leaves but to cut long grass as well. The Amazone machine is a great piece of machinery which takes leaf or grass collection from a 3/4 man job to a 2 man job, saving a lot of time through the autumn. As mentioned we could also start to thin out some of the long rough, we cut and collect long rough, however using a rotary mower has its limitations. This something that will have to be discussed with greens committee.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Autumn has arrived

Monday saw the lowest overnight temperature since last winter, getting down to 2 degrees C and giving a hard grass frost. This lasted until just after 10.00am. This will help slow the grass down a little, which is still growing at quite a rate. We are also seeing the trees changing colour fast and a few leaves are starting to fall. The more the weeks roll on the more we will have to go out clearing greens and tees before play and before they are cut. There is always a spell when the leaves start to fall when we can not keep up with collection, they simply come off the trees at such a rate that within an hour of clearing an area its covered once more. Once we get through that spell we are then able to keep on top of them and present the course in a reasonable manner.

Currently we are making great progress on the winter/autumn work, the ditch across the 16th has been excavated and the pipes joining it to the out let pipe near the 15th ladies tee is complete. We have still to tidy the edges and turf the entire ditch when we have more time before the end of the year. The most important thing was to get all excavations finished before the weather turns wetter and therefore minimising damage to the course. We also work shorter days during November and December so time is also an issue. We are hopefully going to complete the 15th path this week.

The excavated soil has been used to complete the mounds to the rear of the 20th green, this is to make the green more defined from the tee, the right and left hand edges of the green were difficult to be defined as the putting surfaces are hidden. Hopefully the mounds will solve this issue. Topsoil needs to be put on the mounds to finish them off before seeding of turfing.

Eddie Ruddock and his team have installed two winter tees as planned using the astro turf form the range practice tee, the two tees on the 3rd and 7th will solve the yearly problem of eneven and difficult to use winter tees. Hopefully if these are a success we will install more for the other problem tees on the course. Please give feedback once they come into play.

We are trailing cutting the semi rough lower going into winter, this is to try and limit the amount of leaves that get stuck in the grass, over time killing it off and making the course very patchy in spring. We have noticed that due to the length of the semi rough we need to hand blow a lot of areas to remove the debris, with growth being stronger into the back end of the year I feel that this could help. I will monitor the situation through the autumn.

Monday, 26 September 2016

16th ditch update

The start of another week and we are now well underway with the ditch that is crossing the 16th hole. Last week we started the piped in section, this runs across the front of the 15th ladies and then will connect to the outlet pipe which is underground at the rear of the ladies tee and runs tot he 14th ditch. The outlet pipe is the same pipe which takes the water from the ditch at the 17th and the 18th tee ditches.

The reason we are installing the ditch is to aid the drainage potential in that area. We have had serious drainage issues, not just in this particular area but across the 14th, 15th tee 16th green 17th green and 18th tee. The reason for this is a layer of heavy clay around 400mm below ground level, above and below this layer of clay the soil is fairly sandy. Unfortunately through winter as the soil reaches saturation point due to increased levels of rainfall, the water has no where to drain off to and sits on top of the layer of clay and the water table rises quickly. We have made great progress into draining other areas such as the 17th green area and the 18th tee area. There we installed similar ditches which has given the excess water some where to go and allows the water table to remain lower than before. Those areas have certainly been more playable through the last couple of winter and we are confident this ditch will do the same. It also gives us the option to install more lateral drains into the ditch where needed.

Alistair and Sam are making a great job shaping the initial levels, from this we will finish the sides with rootzone and it will be turfed when time allows. We have now filled in 3 more bunkers with the waste soil. The 3 bunkers between the 18th and 27th fairways have been removed, trees will eventually be planted here and a bunker re-positioned somewhere on the 18th.

Tomorrow Eddie Ruddocks company, Energytek are installing two winter tees, one on the 3rd tee and one on the 7th tee. These are the 2 worst winter tee areas during winter as they are both on slopes making it difficult to find a level teeing ground. They are taking control of all of the installation, using some of the practice outdoor tee this year to trial and gauge feedback before committing to others.

Else where all the fairways and tees have been sprayed ( apart from the 4 driest ) for weeds, combined with a liquid feed. They were well overdue an application of selective weedkiller but due to the weather and time we have not had the chance up to now.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Construction update

The weeks are going by way to quickly, it seems like the summer is coming to a close, last week brought us lovely warm weather however this Sunday morning we had temperatures down to 7 degrees. The leaves on most trees are starting to change and before we know it we will be on the leaf collector daily. The grass is still growing readily and we are finding it difficult to keep on top of all areas. Many might say why have we taken on so much when the grass is still growing. The answer is simply during the winter when we have more time the areas where we are working are simply inaccessible or would cause to much damage to the rest of the course trying to get the work done. We hope to get all the heavy work done, leading soil, in the next 3 weeks, after that we will slow done the pace and catch up on all other work before finishing off the construction projects.

So a catch up on the work first far, the 20th hump at the back left of the green is finished and has been seeded. The back of the 25th tee has been reshaped and seeded. The area outside the green keepers shed has been stoned and leveled. The 22nd tee has been graded and topsoil has been added, just needed root zone and turf. The 16th ditch has been started, the enclosed section dug started to be dug out ready for pipe, we hope to continue this section this week coming. The rest of the ditch has been marked and levels taken to ensure flow is correct.

The 2nd, 3rd and 5th green are still showing signs of anthracnose disease, the 2nd the worst effected, they have been treated with extra fertiliser to boost there recovery and health but the damage has been done and will take time to recover. Dews on a morning and high humidity are a recipe for disease, hopefully we can limit the damage to these greens. As temperatures drop and humidity decreases the pressure will also decrease. Entering winter its important we limit disease damage, fungicides are sprayed preventatively however anthracnose is very difficult to prevent and cure using fungicides. Stress caused through renovations are the main contributing factors to sparking outbreaks.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Start of the construction work

This week we are stating some of the construction jobs planned for this winter, this reason we are starting now is the ground conditions in the areas we are working can be unsuitable for leading soil to and from the site.
The area where it is most likely to flood is next to the ponds on the 21st and 24th hole. The first project was to remove some matting that had become very uneven and slightly dangerous, we used the excavator to remove and dispose of the matting and we have now refilled the pathway with stone. The same stone as we have used on other paths around the course. We are unsure how the stone will work next to the pond after flood events, but its the most easiest and cost effective solution.

The next project which had to be done at this time of the year is the 22nd tee, this tee has been problematic for a number of years, it was too narrow and very uneven, we have taken the height of the tee down around 600mm, with the banking reduced has given us around 3 meters extra width. We have repositioned the sprinkler heads to the side of the new teeing area and will relocate the yardage posts. Under the tee was very heavy clay, excavated originally from the ditches on that area of the course, this was removed and used to fill in the bunker back left of the 20th hole and built up to create a mound which can be seen from the tee. This helps golfers know where the left hand edge of the green is. 

Both have yet to be completed, but hopefully by the end of this week we should have them tidied and marked off as GUR. They will remain as GUR until the winter when we have sufficient time to complete the projects.

We are continuing to collect long rough around the course, concentrating on all the 'in play' areas.
After we have finished the construction work all other areas will be cut down and tidied up.

The tees have been sprayed for worms, we have also put in the mix some iron which will help to green them up coming into the end of the summer season. Growth is still really strong due to high day and night temperatures coupled with some heavy rain spells, we are reluctant to put too much fertiliser omn any area as we are struggling to keep on top of cutting as it is. When the night time temperatures dip we will feed tees and approaches. We have however put on the regular application of fertiliser and seaweed on the greens and surrounds.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

long rough

With the maintenance on the greens done we are now back to focusing our attention to the rest of the course. 19-27 greens have been slow to recover after tining as its been drier than I would have liked straight after aeration. The sand applied is still causing problems with cutting, the sand gets picked up by the mowers blunting the blades. These have had to be changed on one mower to ensure the 1-18 greens are cut with sharp blades. As mentioned before its vital to cut the grass with the sharpest possible units, a poor cut will tear the grass leaving it prone to disease. 

Hopefully now we have had some rain the greens will be less sandy and will be able to be cut on a regular basis. Following there second cut the recently tined greens were sprayed with a fungicide.

On the course we have started to cut down all the long rough, this is an annual job which we like to do before the leaves start falling. Firstly the rough is best cut when it is dry, and when the leaves start to fall we need to be able to collect them with out the long grass hindering the process. The cutting of the rough doesn't take too much time, however collecting all the in play areas needs to be done to help thin growth for the following years. This needs to be picked by hand as we have no other means of collecting it. 

Cutting the rough also allows us to spray those areas for weeds if needed. Some of the tees, fairways and rough need to be treated for weeds, worms and fertiliser at some point in September, these weren't done in the spring due to the poor weather and growth conditions at the time.

We are about to start on a couple of small projects before the 16th ditch gets underway towards the end of September. Firstly the matting at the bottom of the 25th tee needs removing as it is very uneven and is getting dangerous, this will be replaced with stone. Also the front section of the 22nd tee was damaged severely after the flooding last winter, moles working on it and a very uneven surface has made it virtually unusable. We aim to remove the top 600mm of the tee to lower the whole playing area, this will make the tee bigger and more usable. We struggle to work in these two areas during winter as it floods very easily from the River Derwent. If we can get the soil taken away and the rootzone in place the rest of the tee can be finished during winter where we could access it on foot.

Growth on the course is slowing due to shortening day length and cooler overnight temperatures, This is also causing heavier dews which makes morning cutting messy, most areas are brushed to remove the dew first, this gives a much cleaner cut, but does take more time

Over the next week we also hope to get on top of a few breakdowns, the hand mower, deck rough mower and the semi rough mower all needing repairs

Friday, 26 August 2016

End of the maintenance month

Well its been a long month of aeration and sanding to the greens and surrounds but we have finally finished and now on to the next task. Overall the work went really well, the 1-9 greens a little dry, 10-18 just right and 19-27 a little wet. Considering we do the work spread across the month I would have taken those conditions before we started. We had enough dry days to work the sand into the holes 

and now enough moisture to promote recovery.

The initial greens are now looking in reasonable shape, I wouldn't say they are fully healed but they are smooth enough and healthy enough considering the disruption we put them through. We had to apply a preventative fungicide this week as we noticed fusarium appearing on a few of the wetter greens, this is usually not a problem at this time of the year however the sand we have applied has initiated development. The fungicide will stop any further spread for the next 4 weeks. As mentioned before we do intend to dress them again at some point however it will not be until into September now.

Last night we had a deluge of rain, 26mm to be exact. Heavy downpours which would normally have flooded the course and pooled on the greens for some time were nowhere to be seen this morning. However I took the opportunity to time some of the path ways whilst the machine was still on. But it was the perfect scenario to show why aeration and decompaction is vital to maintain healthy greens. Although this is the most evident straight after the work as the holes are still open in places the increase drainage will last for a number of months before compaction through machinery and foot traffic will start to effect the drainage once more. The rate of compaction increases substantially when the soils become wetter so playing on the greens in winter will lead to a poorer rate of drainage come spring, hence why its vital to do aeration once growth starts again April/May.
We used up some of the cores from 19-27 greens to fill in some uneven areas on the bank on 24. 
Next up is the long rough which we hope to start next week.

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.