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.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Start of annual maintenance

On Monday this week we started the annual maintenance, don't panic we haven't touched the course greens as yet, this is still planned for 1st August. We have done the two putting greens (leaving) a small area to putt on. The rest of them have been hollow tined with 12mm tines, followed by 12mm solid tines. We are experiencing a few issues however, the dry weather we have been having for the last couple of weeks has created a hard pan near the surface, this creates excessive heave around the tines and where rooting isn't as strong, can actually lift the turf. We were hoping to get 3 passes, one hollow tine, one solid tine and one cross tine. The third pass has had to be left for the time being. Immediately after the work the greens were sanded with straight sand and brushed into the holes. With the soil being very dry we were able to get a lot of sand down the holes, improving the soil structure. We put around 2 tonnes on per 500 sq/m. 

The greens were then soaked to prevent the sward drying further. The aeration work naturally dries the soil as air can now penetrate below the surface, it also can get water from the surface, drainage and water penetration should be greatly improved. The green will take around 10 days to get to a puttable state, even then they will still be sandy until the sward has grown over the tine holes. The dry weather will unfortunately not help recovery as growth is stunted in these conditions. We are also in a position where we cant apply any more water than we are due to the irrigation system.

On other areas of the course we are edging around all bunkers once more, this should take us through until after the annual maintenance, when if needed they can be done again. We also have the tree contractors in finishing off the last bits in the copses to the left of the 26th hole. The debris will be cleared in this area in the Autumn.

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.

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.