Making the Cut – Spring News from our Greenkeeping Team

As we move into the spring, we’re gearing up across the estate for the main golf season. We’ve enjoyed a sustained period of low rainfall over the winter months enabling the golf courses to dry up substantially and allowed us to cut the whole estate on a more regular basis, improving the condition of both courses. Alas, the welcome dry weather was also accompanied by the widely reported, strong winds, which caused damage to many established trees around the site. The greenkeeping team did a fantastic job at swiftly repairing the damage alongside completing all of the usual winter maintenance tasks.

They’re now turning their attention to the essential tasks that will ensure the courses are in great condition for the season head…

Buggy Paths – Our buggy path which runs around the Colt course has been damaged by rainfall over the past 12 months and was becoming dangerous in sections. Resurfacing works have started around holes 8 and 17 which will be ready for the start of the season.

Drainage – You may not be aware but both courses are very different when it comes to drainage. The Filly course has very good free draining, with a subsoil made up of mainly sandy loam, especially the flat holes, like the 2nd across to the river, as this was originally the old riverbed. The Colt course is less free draining but the siting of the course on the valley side does help hugely with natural drainage. Since the Colt course opened, we have added drainage to most of the holes on the course, prioritising areas that are prone to holding water. A combination of secondary drainage and top dressing, using our sandbander and topdresser equipment, are both ways we help the surface water migrate to the main drainage lines. This work is always on-going to continually improve the playing surfaces on the courses for years to come.

Irrigation Systems – During the winter months our automatic irrigation systems are drained and effectively put into hibernation for the winter. Over the coming weeks we will be re-activating and servicing the systems to ensure they are working correctly ready for the main golf season.

Green Surfaces – Throughout the winter months green surfaces require protection as growth and recovery rates  reduce due to the cold temperatures. During the winter the height of cut at Close House is around 4.5mm. As temperatures increase in the spring, we lower the height of cut periodically and at the lowest height in the summer we cut at around 3mm, as the grass plant is much more resilient during the warmer weather. The height of cut is one of the primary reasons why greens play at a slower pace in the winter to the summer. We do however aim for benchmark speeds which are regularly monitored using a stimp meter gauge during both periods. Our autumn/winter target is 7.5ft and 9.5ft in the spring/summer period. This summer speed is set at this optimum level to ensure maximum enjoyability for all levels of golfers as well as assisting the pace of play. During the British Masters the green pace was lifted up towards 10.5ft due to the elite level of all players.

Verti Draining – The recent great spell of dry weather has enabled the team to continue verti draining work across both golf courses. The more of this work we get done throughout the winter the better, as it ensures our playing surfaces stay in the very best condition long term. This year we’ve manged to complete an unprecedented amount of this type of work due to the dry conditions which is great news for the courses.

Woodland Areas – In our last update we discussed the need to improve the woodland area beside the 11th green on the Filly course. This area suffers from a lack of sunlight and airflow which was keeping the greens and surrounds damp throughout the winter months. The conditions needed improving to ensure the best possible playing surfaces throughout the year and we’re delighted to say this work is now complete.

Bunker Liners – Work will begin shortly to install new bunker liners to 5 bunkers on the Colt course around holes 1, 4, 6, 13 & 17. The liner we are using is called Capillary and these bunkers will be used to test the performance of the product before being rolled out further, if successful. The bunkers selected get heavy use and are also prone to washouts during heavy rainfall. The Capillary product is designed to improve the playing conditions and consistency of bunkers by reducing washouts and contamination of sand. We will be monitoring the performance of the new lining over the next 12 months.

Recruitment – As we approach the better weather and grass growth rates increase, which in turn leads to an increase in the levels of grass cutting, we look to increase the size of the greenkeeping team. We have recently recruited 4 new members of staff for the summer season, who will join the club at the end of March and work through the summer season until October. If you’re interested in future greenkeeping, or other job opportunities at Close House, then make sure you check out our ‘Join our Team’ page where we feature all the latest job vacancies.

So still plenty for the team to be getting on with! There’s no rest for a greenkeeper!!