Updated: Nov 30, 2018
As the 2018 season draws to a close, it is safe to say that it has been an incredible season for golf! The weather has been superb for golfers, the course has had many visitors, and after the 2017/2018 winter, it is nice to see you all enjoying it. However, a fantastic season for golf, a hell of a struggle from a greenkeeping perspective.
The intense heat has seen a lot of areas dry out and grass swards die off, many of which still have not recovered. Trying to keep the greens irrigated with an ageing system that was installed in the 70’s was a stressful experience. Many times it failed when set to come on during the night, the water levels dropped so low in the lake where water is pulled from that it took multiple actions to try and keep us going. Firstly, we were forced to pump water from the 10th lake to the 18th to raise the levels. Again the levels dropped as no rain arrived to give us a break. The second action was to replace the suction pump completely; we decided to install a 15m pipe on a flotation device which left me no choice but to swim out into the lake so we could moor it up to the banking’s, not pleasurable. The whole Summer was damage limitation, raising the heights on the greens and cancelling all maintenance work to reduce the stress. It was a very tiring and draining three months. Unfortunately, the turf is still feeling the effects from it now, the disease has been more severe, root growth was poor, and we have had poor germination of all grass seeds. I also had the annual vert-drain contractors in this week; I had to send them away due to the subsoil being so dry that it was plucking the turf from the ground leaving the area unplayable.
Enough of the negatives, let's take the positives from this experience. We survived where many courses were devastated. We are enjoying an extended season due to good weather. This time last year we had many closures with torrential rain. I have learnt a lot on how to control turf in the most extreme conditions, and also what mechanical procedures would be safe to carry out during the start of the season. The golf club as a whole has discovered how important an irrigation system is, even if it doesn’t get used that often for some years if we did not have that irrigation system this year, our greens would be devastated, the turf would be stone dead.
I would also like to welcome two new members to the green staff, Aaron Collins who has taken on an apprenticeship with us. It is very important we bring young greenkeepers through and is nice to see the club are supportive of this decision. Robert Muir is an experienced greenkeeper who has joined the team. Rob has worked across the US on many famous courses and has been part of events such as the FedEx Cup and the Barclays. Rob has also worked 4 Wimbledon tournaments, part of his role was hand mowing the tennis courts. As a team of 5 full-time greenkeepers, we will be working hard to improve various areas of the golf course that we couldn’t even think about as a team of 3.
We are in great shape heading into winter, the greens committee have made it their priority to try and help preserve the golf course as best we can to give us the best chance of a good start to next season. Please support them and abide by any rules put in place. You will see plenty of changes and improvements over this winter; I will update you all as our works close to an end.