Making the Cut – Autumn Edition 2022 – Course News from our Greenkeeping Team
Wow what a summer we have had – I am sure you have all been enjoying the incredibly dry and hot weather over the last few months. During my 18 years working at Close House and in previous roles I have never experienced such a consistently dry and hot period with no significant rainfall. This has been great for the golfers but has caused some serious challenges for the Greenkeeping team to ensure that we are presenting the whole Close House estate in the best possible condition at all times.
As we head into the Autumn months our focus can start to shift towards work that can be done to enhance and improve the estate as a whole. As the temperatures start to drop our cutting regimes reduce, freeing up members of the team to embark on different projects and course improvements.
DRYJECT – Summer greens maintenance was carried out in early August to ensure the ongoing health and performance of the green surfaces across the estate. As mentioned in the summer edition of this piece we trialled a relatively new operation which aims to reduce the impact of this work on the putting surfaces. This machine/process is called DryJect – the system uses a high-speed, water-based injection system to blast aeration holes through the root zone to fracture the soil. The patented vacuum technology simultaneously fills holes to the surface with high volumes of sand. This means you can relieve compaction, increase water infiltration, reach the root zone with oxygen.
And the biggest advantage! DryJect leaves the surface smooth and playable. I’m sure you will agree this process was a huge success and the impact on ball roll immediately after the work was virtually nil. We will once again be looking to carry out similar work in the summer of 2023. Unfortunately I still believe that it is necessary, to maintain the long term health of the greens, that cores are removed to help reduce thatch levels, this will continue to happen in late winter/early Spring.
Irrigation – The incredibly dry weather has forced us to have to carry out an unprecedented amount of irrigation work recently. We are very lucky that the vast majority of our irrigation runs on automatic systems and covers the majority of key playing areas. The automatic irrigation takes place throughout the period of darkness which is an ideal time for the grass plant and it also does not disrupt play. The water we use is sustainably sourced via our onsite bore hole rather than using mains supplied water as lots of golf clubs have to do. Outside the areas of automated irrigation both hand watering and mobile travelling sprinkler work takes place. Both of these operations do cause some disruption but I hope you appreciate the improved playing surfaces we achieve by carrying out this work.
WHAT’S COMING SOON?
Bunker renovations – The team will be embarking on a bunker renovation project throughout October and November, hopefully before the weather turns. Numerous bunkers across the Colt & Filly courses have been highlighted for refurbishment. You will notice the team out and about and certain bunkers will be out of play as the work is carried out. These bunkers will be clearly marked as Ground Under Repair so relief can be taken.
The work will include removal of all the old sand, re-shaping of edges, refurbishment of drainage systems at the base of the bunker, new bunker liner installed and then filled up with new sand. This will certainly help to improve the consistency and playability of some of the most heavily utilised bunkers across both golf courses.
Winter Wheels – As I’m sure you will have read in the monthly members newsletter, as from Monday 3rd October all golf trolleys must be fitted with winter wheels to access the golf courses. This is something that we introduced for the first time back in the Autumn of 2020 and we saw significantly less damage to the course after the introduction. The winter wheels reduce ground contact and protect all areas by reducing the slipping and sliding of wheels on the playing areas. This small change to your trolley is hugely appreciated and will help us keep the courses in the best condition possible and open for play longer during the inevitably wet Autumn and Winter.
Worm Casts – Worm casts are one of the biggest challenges we face during the winter months. The casts are easily spread and smeared across the courses when playing surfaces are wet. In previous years chemicals were used to deter the worms from rising to the surface and so reduce the casting. All these chemicals have now been banned as
they were found to have harmful effects on other creatures and organisms living in the soil.
Back in 2021 we trialled a simple brush system that can be used to break up the worm casts. This proved to be effective so we purchased this piece of equipment. This brush system will once again be used at suitable times. Over the coming weeks and months you will see the machine in action across the courses, again looking to improve the playing surfaces during the challenging winter period.
New Machinery – We have recently purchased a tractor-pulled leaf collection machine which will hugely assist with the clearance of the millions of leaves that fall across the estate during the Autumn. Keep your eye out over the next few weeks as the leaves start to fall as I am sure you will see it in action. This machine will really help us keep on top of the overall presentation of the estate, improve playability of the courses as well as keeping water ways clear from leaf debris to aid water drainage from the estate.
Rough Areas – An ongoing project which we have been working on for a decade now is to reduce the thickness of primary rough areas. We really want to get the primary rough in all areas to be long but wispy, so it punishes wayward drives but enables players to find their ball quickly. One of our biggest challenges is the sheer quantity of
nutrients in the soil following on from the hundreds of years that the land the Colt course is built on was being used as farmland. The land was consistently fertilised to be as fertile as possible which is partly why
the rough grows thick in places. Wispy grasses prefer less fertile soil to thrive. One part of this project will be the bailing off and removal of rough in the coming months. This action followed by the removal of the excess grass helps reduce the fertility of the soil. Over the past 10 years we have seen huge progress in areas however, we are not quite there yet.
Verti Draining Fairways – Over the next few months you will see the team out using our verti draining
machine across both golf courses. This machine punches holes into the ground up to 8 inches. This process is incredibly useful to break up soil compaction from the years play, and also provides the desirable conditions for healthy root growth. By breaking up the compaction, it allows roots to penetrate more deeply into the soil and provides a conduit for surface water to reach the drains. This will allow for better absorbing of water and nutrients.
Some of the key benefits of carrying out this work are featured below:
Enables the absorption of water Aids with quick drying of turf to extend playing time.
from the surface to the drainage
system below, preventing run-off
and excess surface water
Improves and maintains sward Improves and maintains good soil structure.
density giving a better playing
surface and preventing the invasion
of weeds and moss. Improves the durability of the sward and recovery from surface damage.
Sand/Gravel Banding – The team will be continuing the great work to improve drainage and the quality of the playing surfaces in the form of Sand/Gravel banding once again this Autumn and Winter. As discussed last year, the reason for this work is that in certain areas our main drains are not sufficient enough to remove all surface water so a secondary drainage solution is required.
The sand banding work will create slits 20mm wide and up to 200mm deep across selected areas of the golf courses. Once again we will be using the specialist product Lytag (traditionally slits would be filled with standard gravel or sand). This product provides 10 times the conductivity of natural aggregates such as gravel or sand. The product also maintains 30% more moisture during dry spells which helps maintain good presentation during periods of extremely dry weather. The moisture retention of this specialist product during the recent dry spell has certainly helped keep the surfaces in the great condition we have experienced.
This process is a slow process as the machine has to move slowly across the course. The team will always try to select quieter times to carry out this work but if you do see this machine in action please do be patient.