Hello everybody and welcome back to the club. What a strange start to the year we have had, if COVID-19 wasn't strange enough, we are now praying for rain after the winter we have just had. Well we are not quite on our knees yet, all is stable. This is part 1 of a 3 part blog to explain what we have been doing over winter.
Now I have done reports in the past where I have stated that that particular winter was the worst winter we have had....... well the winter just gone was easily the worst winter we have had. I have never known rain to fall that continuously it was an absolute nightmare. Anyway we got through it as we usually do and now the course is dry and looking great.
So lets get into it. Planning for Winter usually starts mid-way through the season, and as you well know, upgrading the bunkers is top of my list. We originally planned to upgrade three holes worth of bunkers, but due to adverse weather conditions we had to drop one hole which was the 11th. We started with the 4th this year. We were to construct the new bunkers in exactly the same spec as the bunkers the year before using the durabunker system. Material was harvested from our existing astro-turf paths and used to build the walls of the bunkers. New drains were installed in each bunker to ensure the best possible performance that would help keep them in play all year round. In keeping with the original design of the hole, I re-designed the bunkers to give them a 21st century style that actually sit into the ground as a bunker should. We also applied the same spec sand used in our new bunkers the year before, which is a white Billy Bunker spec that is used on the Ryder cup course at Gleneagles. The sand was applied at a 4inch depth in the base, feathering out to 1inch on the face which is standard spec for a bunker.
We also tried a different method of construction where it came to the soil edge above the bunker wall. Usually we add straight soil to the top and shape the edge before applying turf. This method is all well and good but unfortunately we can not keep golfers off the edge of these bunkers without building a 12ft high brick wall around it. So this year we changed it up and stacked two layers of old turf on top of each other. This created a firmer surface that doesn't crumble when stepped on. It has dried out a little bit so I will monitor its structure through the year to see if this is a better method of construction.
We also made some adjustments to the area to the side of the right hand bunker. This area was flooding quite significantly over the last couple of years. We have installed a grid and lifted the area up to reduce the bowl shape which gathered water and leveled it to create a much nicer playing surface.
I don't know if any of you noticed, but we installed an open ditch down the left side of the 5th fairway........ of course you noticed, many of you like me land in it. This has been on the cards for many years now, and it was finally time to get it done. The 5th hole is and has always been the wettest hole on the course. You wouldn't think so due to its back to front slope but this hole is built on solid clay and has a drainage system like spaghetti junction. Part 1 for the 5th was to install the open trench to left, this is the exit point for any future drains we install coming from the fairway. It is also the location of an existing culvert that ran down the left side taking not only the golf courses water, but all the water from Truffet park at the back. We unleashed a hell of a lot of water and even after this dry spell, there is water in the bottom. We also tried to tap known existing drains coming from the fairway into it, but the amount of drains installed on this hole over the years to try and dry it out, we may have missed a fair few. We have just finished laying some more turf to the left side of the fairway so we don't have to keep that area GUR all year.
I was told an interesting fact about the 5th hole which I later found photographic evidence of. The left hand side used to be an open stream before the golf club filled it in many years ago. Fast forward many years and here we are opening it up again. Similar situation with the trees, the lesson? Do not try and make a golf course something it was never meant to be, exploit the course for its natural beauty and maintain its original heritage.
Unfortunately, winter has taken its toll on the golf course and we are still feeling some of its affects in appearance. I know it is very difficult to accept a closed course during the winter, but it has never been more evident than ever that it has to be done to protect it.
Part 2 will be available next week discussing the new bunkers on the 15th hole and the drainage system we installed to remove our adopted lake before the green. Hope everybody is well and you are all enjoying being able to play again. Stay safe.