Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Tree work

Over the last week or so we have been trying to get on top of all the irregular jobs as we have our maintenance period fast approaching.

All the deck rough has been cut a few times as this is the area that seems to be continuing strong growth, opposed to the shorter grass which has steadied. This last week we have had temperatures of over 30 degrees at times, this has certainly tested our irrigation system, without repeating myself, a lot of which has been covered and discussed in previous blogs, the system is old and is not fully operational, hand watering in these temperatures has been priority to get water on to the greens which aren't receiving any water over night. The big issue regarding the tees, is that these aren't receiving any water due to the strains put on the system simply watering greens. At the moment they are standing up to the heat fine, and should the intensity of the heat continue I wouldn't be surprised if we were to have a thunderstorm before the week is out.

Overall the course is looking great and the team are doing a fantastic job. Last week we had another barrage of compliments, one member said ' I've been a member 25 years and this year the course is the best it has ever been'. Personally I'm really happy with the course, the weather does play a big part in the overall appearance, a wet and warm spring its not the ideal situation at the time, but it helped enormously to winter wear recovery ( which there was a lot, ironically due to a wet and warm winter). The downside to the amount of growth is the long rough. This is a lot thicker this year than some years, however it is where you would only see poor shots and therefore those type of shots should be punished to some degree. Another month and all the long rough will be cut down ready for the leaf collection season.

In the last week we have been busy with tree work on the course. Firstly Adam used a stump grinder hired from Beaver Plant Hire to grind all the stumps left over from the winter work. We usually grind these off earlier in the year, however this year we have left them until Glenn Holiday started work on the 17th/26th pine copse. K and L hardwood have been brought in to thin out the pine trees between the two holes. The copse was last thinned out around 4 years ago, pine trees once there canopies touch will struggle to stay healthy as they all compete for light, any shaded branches will die off and will not regrow. Thinning out the trees will give the remaining trees more chance of getting light and be able to grow out into the spaces left. Around 50 trees have been removed and once the brash is chipped will leave that particular copse in a better state that before. After another 4 years it will have to be revisited to assess if further trees need to be removed. They are also thinning out a few trees to the left of the 26th hole, these are not as bad as the other copse however if left they will become an issue.

As mentioned above we are now only 2 weeks away from greens renovation.
Here is what we are preparing to do to each green:

Hollowcore- single pass with 12mm tines at 50 x 50mm spacing
Sand to fill holes
Solid tine- single pass with 12mm tines at 50 x 50 mm spacing
Sand to fill any remaining holes
Cross tine -  single pass to close in any remaining holes

This combination has been adapted from last year, this year I want to remove some of the organic matter within the top 100mm, the only way to do this is to take a core, the previous years we were happy with the organic matter content, however due to growing winter where the organic matter accumulations are not diluted with sand they can accumulate and slow water penetration. This is also the first time we are trying the cross tines as the last pass over the green, I tried them in the spring and was very impressed at the disruption they caused to the surface given the benefits beneath.
Overall we are looking to incorporate 100 tonnes of sand to the 30 greens. The overall benefits of doing the work maybe will not be apparent immediately as the greens for the first few weeks will be bumpy and sandy. However over time the work we do will help drainage, help root development, reduce mowing and playing stress, keep the surfaces firmer during wetter weather, deter weed and pest invasion, reduce organic matter content, create a denser sward and ensure the greens are in good condition until next august when they will be done again.

Once again a reminder that the annual intense aeration programme on the greens will start 1st August. This will be on holes 1-9 and they will be closed from 6.00am Monday Morning to 6.00am Friday morning. The following week we will then repeat the process on holes 10-18
More details will follow on the schedule of work during the week.

Sunday, 10 July 2016


Last week we had very unsettled weather for the time of year. Heavy rain showers left water standing across the course. This came first thing in the morning on Friday and we had to close the course until the rain had stopped and we had chance to push water from the putting surfaces.

 It is nearly a year since the major renovation was done to the greens, this is now evident when it comes to the surface drainage. Over the year there is a number of reasons why the drainage is effected, firstly and the most damaging to the overall health of the grass is compaction. This is caused by machinery and foot traffic, the wetter the conditions the more compaction is caused. Playing on the summer greens through winter is the main contributing factor. Generally we try to carry out some type of decompaction in the spring, however this can be a difficult time of the year to get recovery from the work so we tend to do minimal surface disruption work. In August the recovery is a lot faster as the temperatures in the soil are a lot higher. In the spring soil temperatures can be erratic due to the night time lows.

The second reason for surface drainage being compromised is the maintenance routine we follow during the playing season to try and present the greens as best as we can. Rolling seals the surface, as does cutting to some degree, the weight and vibration of the units we have can prevent water from getting through the top surface of the greens. Recently we have borrowed a spiker from Ian Levelle at Complete Amenity Turf which has helped break up the surface tension, this has to be done regularly to make any impact. The machine itself is great and is very fast to complete all 30 greens.

The renovation we do to the greens breaks up the soil profile right from the surface to a depth of 250mm, this aids water movement from the surface and also helps provide the roots with the air that they need for healthy grow through the rest of the growing season. Towards the end of the year we then carry out more aeration to continue the surface to soil drainage and create air in the soil.

Elsewhere on the course we have just been trying to keep on top of all cut grass as we are 2 staff down for the next few weeks due to holidays. Next week we have Glenn Holiday coming to start some tree thinning work on the 26th hole. The pine trees in the copse to the right of the hole have become crowded and this is starting to effect the health of the trees and the grass coverage beneath them. Once they are thinned we should see the remaining fill in to the gaps. The long term benefits will far out weigh the short term damage. If you see us carrying out the work and you are playing in the area please be mindful when hitting shots near personnel and machinery.

Monday, 4 July 2016


Last week the weather was a little more unpredictable, thundery showers for most of the week ruled out any chance of continuing spraying for weeds across the course. We did however get the opportunity on Monday to groom the greens. Just to remind anyone that isn't familiar with the process here's what we use to remove lateral growth from the surface of the greens

The vertical blades cut and lift the ends of the grass that is laid, this if left would cause grain and poor putting surfaces. However it can also be detrimental to over groom or scarify, this process if done too regularly will stress the grass plant leading to poor and thin surfaces, which can be prone to moss and weed infestation, along with higher disease pressures given the right conditions. It is a difficult balance to maintain surface quality and reduce grass stress. The groomers are on the greens cutting units on the old mower. We use this mower simply to groom greens as it often can pick up sand from the surface which blunts the cutting blades. Following on behind the grooming mower is another greens mower which tidies up any mess and long ends left from grooming. One measure to reduce stress to the plant, especially after grooming is to apply fertiliser which gives the plant the means of recovery, not just from the process but from general wear through machinery and foot traffic. Last week we applied an application of porthcawl ( a bio stimulant ) and urea (fertiliser) along with seaweed. This mix is applied every 2-3 weeks and watered in using the irrigation system. 

Unfortunately during the process of spraying the fertiliser on the greens the sprayer has broken down, to be more specific the pump bearings have deteriorated to the point where they need replacing. Unfortunately the sprayer is near 30 years old and this is not the only thing that is deteriorating on it, the chassis is rotten and the control system is also leaking under pressure. This November a sprayer MOT has been introduced to ensure sprayer and the quality of spray they deliver meets a standard. This is just like a car MOT, it ensures poor spraying is not leading to environmental issues that can be avoided. Unfortunately for us our sprayer in its current condition is no where near the level it needs to be at. The cost of repair is far greater than expected, the sprayer is not worth spending too much money on as it is very old. The decision has been made to replace the sprayer at a cost not much more than the repairs. Plus we are 100 % guaranteed that we have a sprayer that complies with all legislation.

This week we are spiking and topdressing greens again. The demo spiker has been a great tool to speed up aeration on the greens, in just over 3 hours all the greens (30) have been spiked. If we were doing that with our wiedenmann, it would have taken over 13hours. The spiker has tines of 8mm but only to a depth of 50mm, however the weidenmann has a wide range of tine widths and can go to depths of 300mm if needed. The spiker is simply designed to relieve surface compaction allowing water and air into the immediate surface area.

Speaking of aeration, this is your first reminder that the annual intense aeration programme on the greens will start 1st August. This will be on holes 1-9 and they will be closed from 6.00am Monday Morning to 6.00am Friday morning. The following week we will then repeat the process on holes 10-18
More details will follow on the schedule of work during the week.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Course prep

Over the last couple of weeks the team have been incredibly busy preparing the course for a big week of competitions. The course is always presented to the best of our ability for year round golf, however with the scratch cup and the Yorkshire seniors championship here we stepped up the presentation to make it look and play its best over those few days.

All the course has been cut regularly to ensure all areas are looking there best, this meant double cutting greens, tees, surrounds, increasing frequency of fairway and semi rough cutting and blowing any areas off to stop grass accumulation from machinery.

The greens were also rolled a number of times to help build up speed and trueness.

The team should be really proud of how the course did and currently looks. The feedback from the past few weeks has been incredible, the only downside, if there is one is that we can not keep that pace and cover that workload for the rest of the playing season.

On top of getting the course ready for the competitions we have also tidied up the banks on the 23rd hole. The 23rd tee is really poor and the mole activity on the side of the tee is the main reason for subsidence on the tee surface. Cutting the grass down helps catch the moles that are doing the damage. The tee does need relevelling and turfing, this is one of our priority jobs but currently not top of the list for this winter.

Shortly the greens will be spiked to reduce surface compaction and allow water and air into the profile, with rolling the greens they will have built up a little surface compaction, this slows water penetration and can lead to surface water with very little rain as was the case on Monday morning.

The entrance lane has now been strimmed to allow better view of traffic and we have tidied around the newly planted hedgerow on the 20th hole.

After the recent playing schedule we have an opportunity to topdress greens, so this will be done over the next week or so.

We have started spraying weeds in the semi rough to begin with, the fairways and other parts of the course are a little dry at the moment and there is risk of scorching the grass. The semi is being blanket sprayed (spraying it all) to reduce weeds and increase turf quality. Should the weather change the fairways and tees will also be sprayed

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Bunker sand

It been cut, cut, cut since my last blog, although the weather hasn't been all that warm its been warm enough to continue the growth. The moisture has retained in the soil on the shadier sections of the course, moisture equals growth. The long rough and the intermediate rough has seen the most growth has has thickened up substantially in the ast couple of weeks. This week we are cutting all intermediate rough and getting all the other areas cut between trees. We have strimmed around all trees in the cut rough to tidy bases up.

Other bits we aim to strim over the next week are the entrance lane sides and bits left on tee banks.

Its been a hot weekend and start to this week so the irrigation system is being used every night to water greens. We are also having to hand water dry bits on greens such as bunker backs and ridges on some of the more undulating greens. The 3 greens that are not connected to the system are being hand watered during the day and they visually look drier than the others even they are getting some water. the issue we are facing is that watering them during the day leads to a lot of initial evapouration, meaning less water is retained in the soil to be taken up by the roots. When the greens are watered through the night a lot less evapouration occurs and the water can penetrate deeper in to the soil profile and more can be taken up by the plants. This hot spell is not set to last so the irrigation will get a rest. It looks like next week could be more unsettled.

We have had 60 tonne of bunker sand delivered and is being spread into all green side bunkers initially, should we need more for the fairway bunkers this will be ordered for the coming weeks

Friday, 27 May 2016

Growth spurt

Since my last blog things have been a little hectic to say the least. A week ago things were looking dry and we had to deal with the irrigation system playing up, following a dry week or so we have had two spells of rain, the first on Saturday which brought 10mm of rain and the second around 7mm last Wednesday. This has kick started the spring growth. All the grass was waiting for is to get the right soil temperatures and the right amount of moisture and it will grow. This is now evident across the course with most areas growing rapidly and we are finding it challenging to get on top of all areas. 

In simple terms when you get heat and water at the same time that creates growth. In a more scientific view, we call the relationship between soil/ air temperature levels throughout the day and moisture 'growth potential'.
Basically when the temperature reaches a level that a grass can grow at it's maximum, given the right supply of nutrients, water and light, this is it's maximum growth potential. We can control the amount of nutrients and water to some level, and using plant growth regulators we can regulate growth. 
This will start to be applied next week. This should take the flush of growth from playing surfaces. Tees, surrounds and approaches are to be sprayed also.

The priority this week has been cutting the intermediate rough , between holes and around landing areas. The areas which are not cut at all are really thick and lush, my advice would be to avoid these areas. The reason these are left to grow up long is that we have selected areas which we feel are out of play for the majority of golfers, that saves us time to concentrate on the in play areas and ensure we get all maintenance needed done within the time we have. Our staff levels are very tight for the size of course and we feel that the most important areas, i.e. greens, surrounds, tees, fairways and semi takes priority and the majority of our time and effort is directed to those.

We also cut fairways, cut copses, cut bunker faces, cut the range, picked up balls, moved holes, cut semi, clipped around sprinkler heads and as mentioned above cut rough with the tractor mounted deck. Will has also been busy strimming around hard to reach areas

After the winter we have just experienced we are vertidraining a number of areas which are very compacted and after only a little rain stand water. The compaction is caused by foot traffic and machinery when the soil is very wet, the wet conditions increases the amount of surface compaction. To relieve it, the vertidrain heaves the soil structure creating fractures and air spaces which allow the soil to drain much more freely. The main areas of concern were the 10th and 9th fairways, the 1st semi and around a number of greens. Hopefully this should improve the grass coverage in those areas also.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Tine and dress

This week we have made really good progress aerating the greens, as mentioned in previous posts this was long overdue, coupled with the fact that we have been having irrigation issues has meant we were struggling to get on to them to carry out any work. Now we have had some of the irrigation fixed, which I will cover more of in this blog, we have aerated the greens with cross tines. These are 150mm long and 12mm in diameter, the cross shape causes less disruption to the surface than a round solid tine of 12mm diameter, however with this being the only opportunity to carry out aeration this spring I felt the usual 8mm tines would not give sufficient benefits to the soil from a single or double pass operation. The greens have been done once on 1-18 and twice on 19-27 at a 50mm x 50mm spacing. Greens 1-18 will be done for the second time during Thursday and Friday and then top dressed for the 3rd time at the start of next week. This will then conclude the mini renovation works for the spring, with the next planned aeration in August where they will be hollow tined and solid tined to various depths. In between times there will be additional topdressings applied.

The tees on 1-18 have also been top dressed heavily to help fill in winter wear and divots that have not healed. They were brushed following the dressing to help work it in to the sward.

The irrigation contractor has now installed 4 new wires to replace faulty stretches of cable. This has not solved the issue we are having with deterioration and lack of signal to certain boxes as the 5th 21st and 24th green are still not responding to electrical signal. Putting more cable in could solve the problem, however this is expensive and is not guaranteed to solve the electrical problem completely.
Since the electrical fault we have since had a burst in the pipework near the 23rd green which is still to be fixe. the system would need draining to glue this joint.

19-27 bunkers are being edged this week and will be finished today. Unfortunately due to new restrictions the bunker sand which we have on order has been delayed for a few weeks due to transport regulations in and out of the particular quarry. This means the bunkers that are short of sand cant be topped up until we can receive the bunker sand.

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.