On the Course in December and January
Welcome to the latest edition, covering both December and January, of our Course Blog aimed at keeping you updated on the general condition of the golf course plus details of all the work Head Green Keeper, Shaun Kench, and his team have been doing.
This blog starts with the very sad news that Sarah Day, our friend and partner to one of our team Graham, lost her battle with lung cancer on December 26th. We passed on our thoughts when we learned of this tragic news to her family. Graham would like to thank all of you who contributed to the charity golf day we hosted last May and that the money raised certainly helped in getting her more time with her family and to see Christmas with her children.
Onto the golf course and there has been plenty of work to report on. Firstly the tee boxes, where at the end of November last year we moved, mainly, the yellow tee's into their winter positions. By doing this it will give us a good period of time for all the main summer tee's to recover from a very difficult and busy summer 2018. Several of the Ladies tee's were also moved forward, but this was done to help with fairness of play rather than for the tee recovery as there was less traffic on these during last season. We also introduced some mat's on the Par 3's as these tee boxes always get the most damage so it was decided to adopt this different measure to help increase the chances of a successful recovery. Although it would not have been ideal or preferred at all, if we hadn't taken this measure I feel the teeing areas would have only got worse and then we would be playing catch up on repairs and seeding during the coming season.
In truth there has not been a great deal of work done to the fairways over the past couple of months since the last blog as, like every golf course, they struggled during last summer's heatwave and became very stressed as the year went on. For this reason we have only cut the fairways about 3 times over the past 3 months and purely for definition. We will be reshaping several fairways in the coming months so cutting will only occur maybe once more before mid-March which will then help to establish some growth, and also allow us to create a fairway shape that suits the hole a little better than previous.
The approaches have followed a similar pattern to that of the fairways as they have also only been cut a handful of times over the past few months. As a result, the coverage is beginning to become very consistent every year which is very pleasing. We will be looking to reshape a couple as we move into the main season which will enhance the playing areas around the green.
Prior to Christmas the greens were in really good condition. We treated them all with a winter green liquid fertiliser to help strengthen the plant and also applied a light granular feed of Uno K-Two to encourage the roots to strengthen before the weather became too cold. We were also lucky enough to have two hand mowers on demo from Jacobsen for three weeks which enabled us to get the putting surfaces running true and showed an impressive presentation to the grass. We are hoping to invest in these mowers as we believe the quality and accuracy of the cut and performance speaks for itself.
As we moved through December the presence of the turf disease Fusarium Patch appeared on all greens. This is a very common disease that appears at the start and end of every season due to the varying temperatures. misty muggy mornings and an increase in dew levels sitting on the greens. Each year this disease appears later and later into December which is now beginning to affect the surfaces more than ever. We always spray a treatment for fungicide on a monthly basis throughout the winter months to try and prevent this, but it will always appear no matter what we do. Many of you will have seen that this year it is more prominent than previous which is down to the fact that despite treating the greens the scars need ideal growing conditions to grow out and become green again. Just after the treatment this time the temperature dropped to almost zero degree for a few weeks which means it's somewhat of a waiting game before we are back to our best.
We have placed some information in the changing rooms on Fusarium Patch for anyone interested to know more about this as it can be very difficult to explain!
To try and help the beginning of recovery we have applied another application of winter green liquid fertiliser as well as some calcium lime root granular which should encourage a stronger leaf and also activate the pH in the ground, which in turn will begin the process of slow release of all the nutrients below the surface which will start the growing process.
Over the coming month we will continue with our programmed feed and granular plans, and also turn to the removal of thatch and moss levels on the greens. We intend to verticut all the greens once a week from now up until the planned renovation work starting on Monday 25th March. This should help reduce the appearance of moss in the surface and when the time is right we will also apply lawn sand which will kill any substantial moss and encourage all grass to grow through. This is a long and difficult process trying to deal with moss however we are getting there and every year levels of moss are decreasing.
March this year will see the end of our planned bunker renovations which were put in place for winter works three years ago. During the past 2 months we have improved sand levels in most bunkers, improved the drainage to our most problematic bunkers and reduced the size of the less practical bunkers, most notably the large bunker linking the 1st and 3rd holes. Of course, as with all planned works, when other more pressing issues arise then this programme becomes delayed and takes longer than planned to complete. As a result of having to go and back and forth to the bunker project we will now continue further work on the bunkers on the 2nd, 4th, 15th and 18th holes. The photographs above hopefully give some indication of the extent of the works we have to do, so completing each of the bunkers is a very satisfying.
We have not had to cut the rough since October and it is likely that we won't need to take any action on these areas until March or April. What we have done during this period is scag the long grass down and most recently cut the rough with our rough mower to 6 inches. By doing this it will mean that when the long rough is re-established later in the season it should not be as thick and should grow more evenly.
In December we started the project to improve and create better pathways through some of the holes, most notably on the 3rd, 5th and 7th holes. We scraped away all the weeds and silt from the top to leave a base layer which has been flattened in readiness for the next phase. We are waiting on availability of a specific type of path mix for us to finish these works. There are also plans for further path works over the coming months but they will only be started if we can get the right supplies. It would appear that many other golf clubs are doing similar projects at the moment as there is a 2 month waiting list for new orders of supplies!
All in all, the last two months have been extremely hard work but we are now starting to see the benefits of all the work we have achieved. Along with all the above work we have also fixed the irrigation system so it now operates on a timer during the night.
NEW YOUTUBE VIDEO'S
This month Shaun has started producing some videos which are posted on the Magnolia Park YouTube channel to enable him to explain in more detail some of the work he and his team have completed, the problems they face and also some of the technical issues of greenkeeping.. Click the links below to see the first two information videos and subscribe to our YouTube channel.
AROUND THE CLUBHOUSE & HOTEL
Estate Gardener, Jonny, has been very busy over the past two months as he has been tidying up many trees around the clubhouse to enable them to grow stronger. He has also cut down a number of trees around the golf course to allow those areas to receive more light throughout the year which in turn will produce better playing surfaces. He has also cleared the area of bush and small trees next to the bridge from the car park near the 18th green to give a better view of the course.
Shaun and the Green Keeper Team would request that all on course directions, signage and line markings are all adhered to until further notice when playing. These are all visible and are in place to help keep the course in a presentable and enjoyable condition for all golfers. It is also requested that due to the reduced light in the mornings that the Green Keepers are given right of way at all times, and can all golfers please wait to be called up before playing shots.
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