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.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Maintenance week 3

I'm back off a week away from the club, and straight back on with work to the greens. This time we are hollow tining, solid tining and sanding 19-27 greens. Unfortunately on Monday the weather was wet which delayed us getting started until 11 am. The rain was quite heavy at times but the tined greens coped with it well, showing the be fits of doing the work. The decompacted surfaces can drain much more freely. The 1-18 greens are now starting to fill in, the initial greens on 1-9 still showing a few holes. It was very dry when we did these greens and so struggled to get the final dressing of sand to bridge the top of the holes as on 10-18. As mentioned before these may need a further light application of sand. 
We have had a few volunteeers over the weeks helping with core collection so thanks go out to Rich Harsley, Jack Bowers, Lesley Mathers our greens chairman Colin Webster. The team have worked really hard over the last few weeks to get the work done and try keep on top of grass cutting across the course. 

The next big jobs we have coming up is to start the 16 th drainage ditch and start cutting the long rough down around the course ready for leaf collection. 

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Greens maintenance week 2

And so we go again, this time we are hollow tining and solid tining greens on holes 10-18. This is exactly the same procedure as week 1. For more information on this you can find it earlier on the blog. This week has been even more testing than last, as the conditions are drier than before, even though we have been hitting the greens with irrigation every night. The last few days have been very windy for the time of year, this hasn't helped, firstly the irrigation does not work efficiently in wind as the spray of water can be greatly effected, sometimes not reaching parts of some greens at all. The second problem it causes is evaporation, the wind dries the surface, reducing the moisture content of the soil, leaving the grass needing more water than is available. Hopefully the forecast is for a few showers over the next few days.

The tees therefore have received little to no water as we can not keep up with demand on the greens. Hand watering is being done on any dry areas of greens

The dry weather is having a big impact on the wear of the tines we are using here is one of the hollow tines after just 8 greens, we usually expect a tine to easily last 30 greens during moist conditions, the dry soil is more abrasive and wears down the metal at a rapid rate, so 3 sets of tines has been used instead of the usual one.

The lack of rainfall and wind is also leading to poor growing conditions, across the course grass is starting brown off, especially where there is no irrigation. This is good in the sense we can concentrate on our greens renovations without the need to get out and mow daily, however it is not good news in terms of greens recovery after the work we have done to them. Recovery is going to be slower than expected and I estimate we could be looking at double to average recovery time, so around 20 -25 days opposed to the usual 10, the initial greens we did last week on 1-9 have some holes still visible, again the dry conditions has allowed more of the sand applied to fall down the holes rather than bridge them at the surface. This shouldn't be a problem, however if we feel an extra light application of sand would benefit the smoothness of the putting surfaces then this will be applied in a couple of weeks.

We have also been fixing a few of the smaller irrigation problems such as sprinkler heads.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Greens maintenance week 1

Well this week we got stuck into the greens maintenance and thankfully the weather has been kind to us. Last weekend we got 7mm of rain and the use of the irrigation system has softened the greens to allow tining without to much damage.

We have hollow cored 1-9 greens using 12mm hollowcores to a depth of 130mm, they were then removed for the surface by the team and all debris blow off before the greens were tined again, this time using 12mm solid tines. Those to a depth of 250mm.

The reason we do the two processes is one, the hollow tines remove organic matter within the soil profile and allows it to be replaced with sand, and two the solid tines relieve compaction and also have the added benefit of getting sand deeper in the soil profile. This over time will increase drainage and get water deeper in the soil to encourage better rooting and the final goal of healthier grass.

A total of 29 tonnes of sand has been put on to the 9 greens we have done this week. The greens, due to their current dry nature has taken the sand well and a lot has fallen down the holes after brushing. More sand will probably have to be applied once the holes start knitting in, this is simply to smooth out the greens, usually you will get slight indentations around the holes, especially the hollow tine holes. A subsequent dressing of sand followed by a drag mat will help smooth this out. We can only apply a certain amount of sand within the maintenance window, if it was possible, we could apply slightly more straight after tining.

I must stress this is a once a year operation that has to be done at some point in the year. We feel this time of the year is the ideal time as recovery is the quickest it can be. I appreciate golfers will wonder why the greens are done right in the middle of the playing season, to be honest the playing season is a 12 month cycle nowadays. So there is no 'good' time to do it from that point of view. The rest of the year maintenance is planned to be of 'minimal' disruption, however it is ongoing throughout the year. We have had a lot of compliments regarding the course and the greens over the last few years and it all boils down to the work that is put in to them to get them that way and make play on them possible for a 12 month season.
 As you can see from the picture the sand we apply every year is beginning to show in the soil profile, the upper portion of the green core is dominated by sand and the roots penetrate deeper below this through the aeration holes. The amount of organic matter in the upper profile is not thick, matted or excessive and it smells aerobic (anaerobic soil smells like rotten eggs).

The full profile shows the problems we face regarding drainage, the lower profile is quite heavy soil which drains very poorly. With no drainage on the majority of greens, this can lead to poor upper surface drainage once the water table rises sufficiently during heavy rain, however during moderate amounts of rain the nature of the sandy top layers can cope and remain firm, the work we are doing can only improve this.

Next week we are starting on holes 10-18, repeating the same process as above. Greens on holes 1-9 will be back in play however will not be regularly cut until the sand on the surface reduces as this causes severe damage to the mowers when cutting in wet conditions. A poor cut due to blunted blades will quickly increase disease.

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.