Making the Cut – Latest News from our Greenkeeping Team
An incredible amount of hard work and effort goes into presenting the whole Close House estate in the best possible condition at all times. Brian Clark our head greenkeeper and his team work tirelessly through sun, wind and rain to keep our playing surfaces tip top and everything else neat and tidy. You’ll no doubt have seen them out and about but what exactly are they doing? This is the first of our greenkeeping updates, to help explain all the work they do through the seasons, starting with this coming winter with daily maintenance to more specific tasks…
Tee Signage – We’ve invested in new tee signage which will be going out onto the course over the coming weeks. It’s an ideal job for poor weather days when other essential maintenance work cannot be carried out. Keep any eye out for them on both courses, we think they look rather elegant.
Verti Draining – The team have been hard at work Verti Draining across the estate with this essential task now complete on much of the Filly. Once we’re finished on the Filly we’ll move up to the Colt and continue this work, weather allowing, over the winter. Verti-Draining helps provide the right conditions for healthy root growth, helps drainage so reducing surface water and generally improves the density and durability of the grass, decreasing moss and weed invasion and limiting surface damage. All important stuff!
Machine Servicing – A huge task over the winter months is the annual servicing of our fleet of over 60 vehicles. Our head mechanic Colin, supported by other members of the team, is generally found with his head, or indeed his whole self, under a machine over the winter months replacing oil, changing filters and sharpening cutting blades amongst other servicing tasks. Colin’s work is essential to ensure the fleet performs at its best and the machines are safe for the team to use. It’s a huge undertaking to get through all the machinery but such an important job for the smooth running of the greenkeeping work throughout the season.
Winter Tee Box Mats – The mats that you’ll see around the courses this winter season, are essential at this time of year and are only used as a very last resort. We place the mats on small tees boxes or tee boxes that get heavy wear from shots played with irons like par 3’s. This is due to the much slower recovery of damaged grass in the winter months. In the summer the growth and recovery rates are far higher, so they aren’t required. Left unprotected these tees would become muddy very quickly and would not be safe to play. We don’t want that!
Long Rough Clearance – One of our on-going projects is to reduce the thickness of primary rough areas. We want it long, but wispy, so it punishes wayward drivers but enables players to find their ball quickly. As our estate was fertilised as farmland for centuries, the soil is full of nutrients so our rough grows thick. By bailing off and removing the rough it lessens the soil fertility, which means the rough thins out. The team will continue this important work through the winter months, concentrating on the Colt course.
Hand-Picking Driving Range Field – You’ll all have visited driving ranges where the area you hit your ball into resembles a ploughed field. For the last 10 years we have hand-picked the driving range field during the winter months to ensure that it has the best appearance possible. This does take more time and manpower than the mechanical method used during the summer but is essential to keep the areas appearance at its very best.
Woodland Areas – We have identified areas on the Filly course (hole 9 tee box and holes 10 and 11 beside the greens) where lack of sunlight and airflow is keeping the greens and surrounds damp throughout the winter months. The conditions need improving to ensure the best possible playing surfaces throughout the year so we will be removing the undergrowth around the trees which should improve both air flow and sunlight. Further monitoring will take place and if more work is required, we may look to do this next spring.
Drainage – As the sand banding work nears completion for this year the team will be adding additional main drains to certain areas to ensure that we maximise the work we have already put in. Over the coming months we will be adding additional main drains to the bottom of the 10th fairway on the Colt course.
Temporary Greens – We’ve been cutting temporary greens around both courses which will be used on particularly frosty mornings through the winter. All our greens are built to USGA specification, the highest greens can be built to, using sand rootzone. These don’t tend to hold temperature as well as soil root. This means compaction from golfers walking on frozen surfaces can cause bruising to the grass, the eventual death of the plant and then visible thinning of the grass on the greens. Greens can often look free from frost from a distance but the subsurface can still be frozen. Using the temporary greens ensures no long-lasting damage is caused to the grass and the health of the courses. We appreciate your patience when the temporary greens are in play.
Pitch Marks, Divots, Ropes and Pins – Keeping the course in the best possible condition through the wetter winter months for as long as possible is a key priority for us. Our winter wheels on all trolleys and buggy path use only policies helps hugely with this, as does all players repairing pitch marks, replacing divots and walking around all ropes and pins, instead of climbing over them. We ask all those playing out on either course this winter to abide by these rules to keep playing conditions up to scratch.
As you can see, there is no rest for our greenkeeping team with all this to get through over those winter months. All to ensure our courses are in great condition going into the spring.