Tee to Green: January 2024

26th January 2024

The latest from The Downs and Park Courses from our Head Greenkeepers, Rob Dyer and Simon Berry.


The Downs Course

A Happy New Year to you all and we hope you had a very nice Christmas period. The course in general I feel is currently in a good condition, especially under the circumstances of the weather conditions we have had over the past few months. Although some pinch points and tees are starting to look a bit worn, all in all every looks in good order. Please may I ask that you do not walk under any post and rope areas and follow any traffic management signs, as these are put out to protect areas and will massively help in the future, going into the main playing season.

We have decided to start to put bunkers as GUR when they are frozen, as we feel it is unfair that you have to play out of these and possibly risk damaging your clubs as they are like playing off of concrete when conditions are so cold.

The cold weather has finally come and we can now move onto our winter woodland projects, as the ground is now frozen. Woodland work has started on the right side of the 13th hole, and the aim is to expose some feature trees and to make the woods look more inviting, but make it possible to find your ball in the area. There is currently a lot of brambles which need removing and this will improve the speed of play too. It will also allow any wild flowers in this area to thrive, as there will be more sunlight hitting the woodland floor.

The back of the 12th green has also been thinned, which has improved the hole aesthetically and will slightly increase airflow around the greens complex.

We have verti-drained the greens again last month, to improve the percolation rates and relive any compaction.

Winter mats will now be in use on holes 2 to 7, as we are starting to struggle with recovery on these fairways, compared to the rest of the course. These fairways sit about four degrees Celsius below the others and have restricted sunlight on them, with decreases recovery rates. Please use them as much as possible, as this will put us in good stead when the main playing season starts.

Winter feeding has become a slightly issue, mainly because of weather conditions, rain and frosts for example. We are slightly behind on our liquid feeds on all surfaces; however, this will be completed when weather permits. This will include spraying greens, tees, aprons, surrounds and fairways.

Two walk off areas have been opened up for repair. These are the walk off areas on the 5th and 18th holes. We have dug out the compacted chalk and will replace this with soil, to give the roots of the turf a better chance of rooting with a good soil profile. We will be using some cores from hollow tining the tees to make up the profile, which is a good sustainable approach, as we will not need to buy in a lot more soil which will reduce our carbon footprint.

Morning sunrise over the 15th tee
5th walk off compacted chalk removed
Gary raising sprinkler heads to improve application efficiency
Pre-removal of turf, then re-grading will be completed once frozen ground has thawed.
Course flooding after extreme weather

We look forward to seeing you on the course!

Rob Dyer, Head Greenkeeper, The Downs Course

The Park course

The rainfall in 2023 was the highest we have had in five years, let’s hope for a dryer 2024. It didn’t start off that way but after the first week we were in to hard frosty weather, which means our attention has been to continue with our woodland maintenance. As part of our ecology programme, we have thinning out some of the wooded areas on the course which includes raising canopy’s, removing ivy and clearing all brambles. This has made a real difference and has created quite a feature. With more light getting to the woodland floor, we hope to see the bluebells flourish. We will continue to plant more trees around the course in rough areas, the species consist of beach, oak, hazel and maple. 

Construction work on our bunkers has started. Scott has been busy putting things into place.  We will be redeveloping the 4th and 13th holes with removal of the fairway bunkers with new ones being repositioned in the coming months.

The greens cutting heights have been raised to 4.5 and we are only cutting them once a week, when conditions allow. Overall, they are in good health. We have aerated the greens using a 10mm tine across the green going to the depth of 100mm to help break up thatch and compaction in the top layer and promote root and plant health. The most pleasing thing is that the greens are disease free! With no scars in sight which is due to regular aeration and thatch reduction work and our disease preventative programme.


Look forward to seeing you on the course!

Simon Berry, Head Greenkeeper, The Park Course

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