Friday, 17 February 2017

Irrigation Update #5

Ploughing in the pipework has continued this week, from where they left off near the 18th they now have over 75% of the system installed. They have completed all mains pipe on holes 1-18 and are currently working on the derwent 9. Although there are areas on 19-27 that is the best land on the course (sandy), there are also areas that are the worst (clay). Obviously the dry areas have gone in with ease, the real issue we may face next week is trying to complete the leg of mains pipe to the furthest point on the 21st and 24th holes. This is the lowest point on the course and one that is prone to flooding from the River Derwent. Just last week the control boxes for those two greens were under water after the River Derwent rose after recent heavy rainfall. Fortunately the levels have dropped and the forecast looks good for the next week at least, even though the ground isn't as dry as I would have liked we will take this opportunity of rain free weather to try and complete this part of the installation, as we simply may not get a better chance. The contractors will board the ground to prevent substantial damage, as they have right across the course, and smaller pipe is used as it is a lower flow area, which is easier to 'pull' than the larger pipe.

Valves sets are being installed, as golfers may have seen they are excavating a large hole around the existing boxes as the new pipe work must be installed in parallel sections to ensure the valves in the boxes are neat, accessible and to ensure the boxes can be supported from beneath on concreate blocks, which will stop them sinking over time. They also try to remove any old connections or repairs. Some of the boxes are being moved as there current position is not ideal, such as the 12th, pictured below, will need some extra repair work as the excavation was in poor ground conditions. All uneven or poor ground will be dealt with over time, either sanding to restore levels or seeding where needed.

All tees and worn areas have now been sanded, we are hand sanding lower areas on some of the tees to help reduce unevenness, they will be top dressed again in spring. The approaches will also be top dressed in the next week or so

Applications of slow release fertiliser have been made to worn areas and summer tees. This will release over a 3 month period, but has a good proportion of available nitrogen at this time of year. An application of fertiliser is due on the greens next week.

The ditch walls at the 16th are nearly complete, the tops of the walls will be to tidy and to turf when we get into spring. We also hope to excavate the left hand bridge crossing as this area is very uneven and is a point where there are a number of drains that need readdressing. We may extend and drain the front section of the approach to 16th green if time allows in the next few months.

We have 12 trees that are due for delivery on Monday, to plant where the bunkers have been removed between 18th and 27th fairways, planting these will separate the two holes and allow us to extend the fairway further left on the 27th hole. We also have 3 leylandii and some thorn plants to replace those lost when removing the willow to the rear of the 10th green/ 13th tee.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

A Catch Up

With all the work that has been going on it feels like the blog has been dominated by the irrigation works, I feel its important that all members, visitors and just blog followers for that matter are kept up to date with the progress of the installation. As its one of the biggest investments the club has made since my time here and certainly one that will see the efficiency of our water application improve massively. Before I cover all the other projects the greenstaff are working on just a quick update of the irrigation work that's happened in the last week.

The pipe installation has been stopped until some of the holes that are on the course have been filled, its also given the contractors a chance to tidy some of the mole lines. All the remaining loop on 10-13 was completed last week. Hopefully the weather stays dry next week when ploughing will continue. The positive side of the work is that the work so far has left little long term damage and there is a lot of drier areas where they can work should the conditions decline.

So what's been happening on the course? Firstly the Air2G2 aeration work has been completed, all the greens have been decompacted using high pressure jets of air released deep within the soil profile. Overall the work has resulted in much better drainage rates across most of the greens. The worrying issue it's raised is that a couple of the greens, the 2nd being one of the worst, still have water infiltration problems. After the 2nd green had been done there was a period of rain, which again stood fairly easily on the surface of that green. Since I have been here we have always had problems with that particular green due to the shape and poor soil used in construction, leading to standing water. In the most extreme circumstances the 2nd hole has to be taken out of play to restrict damage. After decompacting the lower profile its evident that the soil beneath the rooting structure is very heavy and poor to drain, looking forward, this is one that drainage would be of a district advantage to improve the health of the putting surface.

When we check the course on a morning its a great time to see golfer patterns that are left in the dew as it gives a good idea of how traffic is concentrated into certain areas around greens and tees. That helps us decide where to move hoops and ropes to change wear patterns and direct golfers to areas that would allow previously worn turf to recover. Its also highlights the issues we face with golfers bending the rules of etiquette, below is a great example.

Clearly two golfers have taken their trolleys across the GREEN. We often see that golfers remove hoops to allow access through to the next tee or simply to play their shot, and often we have to put hoops back which have been left out. We only use the ropes and hoops to try and prevent damage around the summer use areas, so when it comes to spring the areas where golfers would walk and play from are less damaged and therefore more enjoyable than they would be otherwise. Obviously taking trollies across the green is unacceptable, however please try and abide by the traffic management aids (hoops and ropes) as they are there for the golfers to protect YOUR course. The same applies to buggy use, please stay to the semi rough as much as possible, when it is frosty, at all times. Again frequent use of buggies does cause damage, especially when the course is wet and the surface is greasy due to expected thin sparse growth at this time of the year.

Hedge cutting is continuing, they are currently working on the 19th leylandii, following that the range and a few bits of thorn are all that remains. The remaining, non flowering shrubs around the car park have all been pruned. The flowering varieties will be done later in the year.

The bins that were made 'in house' are all out on the course. They look great and will hopefully solve the issues with litter. They have all been put on a concrete slab to finish them off. This should make it easier to maintain around them.

The greens have all been cut, we have put the greens mowers up to 4.5mm bench setting, which is 0.5mm higher than the previous cut. This is simply to allow a little more top growth, which increases health and reduces the risk of scalping during softer conditions. Overall the greens are looking reasonably good. The next application of fertiliser is due in the next few weeks. We will also be starting to apply a slow release fertiliser to all tees, approaches and worn areas. This should aid recovery when the grass starts to grow. The tees and approaches will be sanded next week, this will help fill in divots and help reduce the wear. Now carbendazim has been banned, this was the chemical we used to treat worm casts, applying sand will be a lot bigger part of maintenance to most areas. We simply cant afford to sand everywhere so the main playing areas and wear points on the course will be prioritised. We have already been sanding any areas that are getting messy due to general wear, through both golf and irrigation work.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Irrigation update #4

As we enter into the 3rd week of the irrigation installation things have taken a turn for the worse. Doing anything in January is going to be at the mercy of the British weather, Having started on holes 10-18 on Tuesday things were going smoothly with another 350 meters installed in dry conditions, reaching the 10th green area. Over night we had around 25mm of rain, which not only closed the course but put the contractors on hold until things started to dry out.

Fortunately today has brought drying winds and thankfully we can continue. The aim is to reach the 10th tee (passing the 13th, 15th and 27th greens) to complete a loop with the holes on 1-9. Once this stage is reached the team are then going to concentrate on connecting up and filling in all holes that are currently exposed. The contractors have at least one of their team working on tidying up the work as the plough is working. He concentrates on the 'in play' areas first to ensure play can continue.

Some of the holes are already being filled, all irrigation lines, repairs and infilled areas will remain GUR until further notice.

The bins that are being made 'in house' are now going out on to the course, we have also put a couple out in front of the clubhouse. These are to replace the open style metal bins that are near some of the tees. We have had a lot of issues with animals, crows and squirrels in particular pulling out rubbish which looks very untidy. The sleeper style we have made will hopefully solve this. They are very heavy and are not intended to be moved , so they will be placed in areas where we do not need to move them but are close to the tee. They will be placed on a concrete slab to finish installation. The small bins will be still placed near the tees for any areas we can not place the new ones.

The Air 2 G2 machine is continued to be used and we saw really good results after the recent rainfall in terms of increased drainage rates. Certainly a machine we could use more through the winter.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Irrigation update #3

The installation on holes 1-9 is now complete, they are awaiting another contractor to come and undertake the road crossing at the rear of the 11th green. Yesterday, today and tomorrow they are tidying all work done so far, rolling and repairing all damaged areas where the pipe has been pulled in.

They have finished just in front of the 10th tee, where they will be resuming next week, starting on holes 10-18. There are a couple of smaller diameter pipe 'legs' to go in around the 9th green and 1st tees, these will be done when ploughing in the 18th green and 10th tees.

 Holes 10-18 will be closed from 30th January to 3rd February.

With the recent weather been mostly dry damage has been minimal so far, rain is forecast over the next few days, hopefully this will not be too influential to the installation. The concrete for the tank bases has been delayed due to the low temperatures.

Colin, the greens chairman has been busy once again constructing some oak sleeper bins that we are going to put out onto the course to help reduce litter and mess created by squirrels and crows. We will put them out, hopefully during the next few weeks. They will be positioned away from the regular cut areas but where golfers can access them. They are heavy and will be placed on a concrete slab, so moving them to cut will not be easy.

The Air2G2 aeration machine is still working through all 30 greens pumping air into the substructure, with the recent cold weather its been slower than hoped, however its hire is based per green rather per day so we will do them once conditions are right. Doing them during frosty or severely frozen conditions could do damage to the green or machine. Currently a third of the greens are complete.

Machinery servicing and refurbishing summer markers continues.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Irrigation Update #2

At the end of last week the irrigation contractors reached their intended target, completing the mains pipe installation on holes 2-7. This section of pipework overall went well and the tidying up continues around the trenches this week, The only area where a number of large boulders were dragged near the surface was a 100m section from next to the 5th tee to the back of the 6th green. These will have to be dug out using the excavator at a later date.
All the irrigation on holes 1-9 will have to be connected up and the valves installed once the weather deteriorates. This week they are continuing with the next section from the 8th tee running down the 1st hole and across the 9th fairway heading for the 9th green. This will complete the 1-9 installation of mains pipe. 

Next week they hope to start on 10-18, weather dependent. 

The road crossing from behind the 8th tee to the 2nd was always going to be a difficult one. There is a mains water pipe, electricity, telephone and possibly gas pipes running very close to the road. The road is also covered in tarmac so the trencher cant simply dig through it. All the services have to be found and exposed by hand, a access hole has to be dug either side of the road to allow a bore in to go under the road. Tunneling under the road will allow the access to be unaffected and hopefully leave the services in tact, all this work is being undertaken by the contractors.

Elsewhere on the course we have cut and rolled greens and we have started using an air injection machine to decompact and aerate the greens substructure. The machine injects air via 3 probes which penetrate 30cm before releasing 4 BAR of pressure, we use a 60cm x 60cm spacing pattern to ensure all the green is covered evenly . This impact of air aids better root growth, increases drainage and will hopefully give the aeration without the need for surface disruption. We have the means of aerating the greens using our own equipment however we cant get the depth this machine reaches, therefore continually aerating at the same depth could create a pan where water will penetrate more slowly. This machine is on hire until we have completed all 30 greens.

All debris from the windy weather we had recently has been tidied, sycamore keys have been quite bad and are very difficult to tidy, the only method that is effective is by using back pack blowers to work them into the semi rough.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Irrigation update #1

As the irrigation contractors start to work on the course I aim to give regular updates on the progress they are making and how there work is effecting the course and play.

They started on Monday this week pulling in the pipework on the course, they have begun the stretch of pipework running from the 3rd green to the right of the 2nd hole where it will cross under the road.  As mention previously this is going to be the most challenging section as its very hard ground with underlying limestone. The contractors knew this before they began, however what we didn't know, and was virtually impossible to know is how inconsistent the land is. In one area it can be over a meter before stone is reached, other areas around 30cm. This makes it very difficult for the mole plough to work consistently. As you can see below

this is a stretch running from the 3rd control box to the 4th green, where the soil is reasonable.

This is 10 meters later where we have to pass nearby trees. Soil depths are a lot more shallow.

The contractors will repair damage done by the machine and roll down the 'heave' once finished and when conditions are suitable.

Every time a section of pipe comes to an end a hole has to be dug so the pipe can be fusion welded together, this will be every 100 meters for the 110mm and 90mm pipe they are installing on holes 2-7.
These holes will have to be left open until the installation of the pipe is complete. Please take care when playing around them, they are all roped off for safety, however, if your golf is effected by them please take free relief, that also includes any damaged ground made by the irrigation machines. We cant mark all areas on the course as the works will continue for a number of week, possibly months.

At the side of the mens 5th tee (their current position) they are coming across boulders which are very large, which have to be removed by excavator. Progress has been hampered due to the ground conditions. I will reiterate this will be the worst area on the course for damage because of the stone.

When they are passing a control box they will have to reconnect all the pipework as new valves and boxes are being fitted, so they again will leave these holes open with control wire looped ready for connection which is not live and will not cause any danger.

Due to the work on holes 1-9 they will remain closed for the remainder of this week and possibly the start of next week. Please speak to the pro shop for regular updates and for further information regarding hole closure.

Any question please feel free to ask on here or send to

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.

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.