Tee to Green February 24

25th February 2024

The latest from our Head Greenkeepers of The Downs and Park course


The Downs Course

I normally start by mentioning the weather, greenkeepers are a funny breed who wish for dry weather in the winter and wet weather in the spring / summer. We have had some mixed weather this month with lots of fog delays, heavy dews and plenty of rain. The course is coping ok though, through a tough winter of rain and mixed temperatures. There are a few areas in high traffic zones which are starting to look tired, however, we will address these when we get some warmth in the ground and seed can germinate. These areas may need to be roped off until they have fully recovered.

The greens playability is currently good; however, we have had a couple of issues this month. One with fusarium patch coming into the greens up the top, which has now been checked. At this time of year, going into the spring I'm not too worried about the scaring, as it already has grass inside the disease patch, which means it is healing.

The other issue we have had is something I've never seen in 24 years of greenkeeping and that is a mole has decided to move onto the 9th green. Normally they keep off of the greens, however it has decided to dig through the back of the green. Luckily their extraction hole doesn't cause much damage to the green and can be easily repaired.

The tees are still very worn from the amount of golf being played from them. The orange tees have been taking the biggest hit (excuse the pun), therefore in the next month we will be pushing the orange tees forward at times to reduce the wear and tear on the main tees. Orange markers will only be on their main tee if a qualifying competition is on. Please help us spread the wear by using the green and purple tees where you can and experience the course in a different enjoyable way.

We have nearly finished the woodland work on the top right side of the 13th hole, opening up a nice yew tree as a feature tree and removing a lot of brambles, allowing players to find their ball easier in this area. We will continue work towards the tee when time and resources allow us to.

The bunkers have had a trim this month and the sand on the edges put into the middle of the bunkers. We still need to remove some chalk debris and then we will start adding new sand to top up the bunkers, starting with green side bunkers first, then fairway bunkers.

New 150-yard markers have been installed and now can be taken out and put back into the sleeve provided. All 150-yard markers are to the centre of the greens.

The irrigation system is constantly being worked on, even through the winter. We have continued to raise sprinkler heads around the greens, for more efficient watering and diagnosed a faulty electrical zone on holes 11 to 15 which would have caused no automatic watering in the summer. This is all done in house by our team.

The 5th and 18th walk off areas have now been turfed and will be brought back into play once rooting starts to appear. This normally takes six to eight weeks to get back into play. These areas will be GUR until then.

In March we will be carrying out a new maintenance programme with our aim to reduce organic matter / thatch in the greens. We will be using the GKB machine, which The Park course has had good success with in previous years. This will remove about 7% of the thatch profile, followed by a 10mm hollow core to remove another 4% and improve infiltration rates. We will then top dress with sand to fill up the holes. Please be aware there will be sand present on the greens for a few weeks after maintenance as we try to fill the holes up. This process will improve playability, firmness and improve the quality of plant health too.

Hopefully the weather turns soon and we start seeing some more sunshine and drier weather.

Some flooding on the course during the month
Before picture of the 13th Woodland
13th Woodland Clearance
Fusarium Patch which has now been checked.
18th walk off prior to reshaping and turfing
18th walk off turfed
Wear on tee areas
We've had some fog delays this month!
Mole on the 9th green
Please repair your pitch marks, as they also scar the greens and reduce playability

Look forward to seeing you on the course!

Rob Dyer, Head Greenkeeper, The Downs course

The Park Course

It would be nice to discuss something that is not rain, flooding and course closures but the last five months have been exactly that. Another poor month weather wise with over 100mm (that’s four inches in old money) of rain falling in February and it’s only the 21st when I write this. We have managed between the downpours to cut areas and try and put some definition and character into the course. Despite all the rain the greens are in amazing condition, with good health, colour and disease scars kept to a minimum. With our aeration programme consisting of spiking to a 1” depth and 10mm tine once a month to 4” depth and Verti drain to 8” depth has allowed air through the profile to keep preferred aerobic conditions rather than anaerobic which nothing would grow.

In January’s blog I spoke about the team filling in and levelling the bunkers on 13th  and 4th. Well, we have pushed the project along a bit more this month. Working with European golf design architects we have improved the 13th by moving the fairway over to the left and repositioning a new bunker on the right of the fairway. I say we, but in truth Scott has done an amazing job the digger to create not only the new fairway bunker on 13th but also to put in two green side bunkers on 13th and 4th. Some pictures on this can be seen below.

The Academy

Work is still continuing at a good pace on the new academy short game area and short course.

This month we have been digging out around our specimen trees, this one being our Evergreen Oak, and having a carpet of woodchip to keep the base of the trees protected and the area looking neat.

The chestnut fencing around the entire site has just been completed and is looking really good. Hopefully golfers will keep to the path and not venture over.

Happy Greenkeepers!!
Danny working on moving the irrigation for the new bunker.
Scott sculpting the bunker on the 4th greenside
Scott starting work on the new shape on 13
Starting to take shape.
Bunkers all ready for lining and turfing. You can see in the background Scott hard at work creating the 4th greenside.
Tree at The Academy
Sefton and Matt our experts in tree planting.
As part of our ecology plan, we continue to plant more trees around the course in rough areas and areas to define the holes like this. Between the 12th and 2nd we have continued with more established silver birch species and filled in the areas with beech.
Spring is on its way!

Look forward to seeing you on the course!

Simon Berry, Head Greenkeeper, The Park course

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