Tee to Green

18th June 2024

The latest from our Head Greenkeepers of The Downs and Park courses.


The Downs Course

As we reach the half way point of the year, it’s pleasing to see the course improvements we have achieved this year. Firstly, the greens are more consistent then I have ever seen them, this is in regards to trueness and speeds. The stimp reading has been averaging 10.1 over the last three weeks and this is also throughout the day. They are also very healthy and the new feed program is working well, which is aiding the greens improving nicely. The greens complex’s (aprons, collars, and bunker surrounds) are also healthy and looking pure, with additional feeding throughout the year. Fairways are also worth a mention as they have good grass coverage and we managed to reduce the lateral growth in the last month, by lowering the cutting heights by 2mm for a few weeks, before coming back up to summer heights. 
Although this has been a good achievement in the agronomy team, we still have areas to improve. Bunker sand top up has resumed after having a six week delay on sand, due to supply issues. We have now had 20 tonnes delivered, with another 20 tonnes on back order, which we are still awaiting. We are now continuing de-stoning and topping up bunkers to the correct levels. Since the spring we have completed holes 1 to 6 and 16 to 18. Now we will continue topping up bunkers the next few weeks and improve the playability of the hazards. 
Another area which is causing some issues is the natural rough areas. These are slightly thicker than normal, due to the consistent wet weather we have had in the previous 12 months. This has caused the coarse grasses to flourish, rather than the more desired finer grasses. We have reduced some of these areas by lowering the grass height to around six inches for playability purposes. This was done on the landing zones on holes 5, 9, 11 and 16. We have had a lot of wild flowers come through, with a variety of orchids on display throughout the course. Although the natural rough is challenging, it does provide a huge ecology value to the area and plays a big part in our ecology and sustainability policies. 
Our irrigation system is still causing us issues with leaks and electric issues, which we are working to solve daily. We have had another burst in the tunnel area and are now using another pipeline to use the automatic watering system on holes, 1, 17, 18 and the putting green. Currently this is working ok and after a few burnt off areas, which are recovering, there should not be much different throughout the course. 
The estate water leak continues to flood the 18th first right bunker and this will remain GUR until it is fixed. 
Badgers are causing a slight issue again, as they are starting to dig for grubs on the 11th fairway. The only thing we can do is repair the damage with divot mix and continue to do this if damage persists.

We look forward to seeing you on the course!

Rob Dyer, Head Greenkeeper, The Downs course

Bunkers being topped up with sand after delay from the quarry
Badger damage on the 11th
Feed programmes working well on the greens and complexes.
5th hole from the tee
Evening sunset on the 7th
Gary learns the process of verti-cutting as part of his college course
Ironing greens to keep the speeds consistent throughout the course

The Park Course

We had a challenging but very rewarding couple of weeks. After 14 months of growing in, the brand-new Copse facility has finally opened. Its been great to see it being used and enjoyed by so many and the feedback has been very pleasing. Whilst opening The Copse, we were also cutting the Goodwoof Arenas, even at the opening evening of The Copse some of the team dashed off to get some final cutting done ahead of Goodwoof taking place that weekend!

Straight after thet we had the Clutch Pro Tour golf competition, which was a huge success. There was a great field of golfers and they couldn’t praise the surfaces and the conditiion of the course enough, with one competitor saying “greens were second to none”! All thanks go to the team in delivering an excellent competiton, so much so the Clutch Pro Tour cant wait to come back in 2025!

As you can imagine the team are riding a bit of a wave at the moment but this doesn’t come by accident as this is years and months of hard work and doing the correct practices. Improving all surfaces through cultural practices and having consistant feed programmes. The greens have been very consistant with speeds between 9 and 10ft since the end March.

Due to this very busy period the renovation of the 4th and 13th bunkers have been put on hold. After more discussion with EGD it was felt that during the dry summer months, this was not the best time. We need to move irrigation pipework around the new positioned bunkers as this will need the system draining down and will be too risky. We of course will be back on reconstructing these bunkers towards the back end of summer.

Now we move on to the preperation for Festival of Speed. As you have seen in previous years the whole of the 10th is a main entrance and has the Supercar paddock on it, plus on 9th hole we have six helicopters taking off non-stop for four days. To help these areas during that period, we areate the whole of the 10th and apply a foilar feed to strengthen the plant and give us the best chance of quick recovery. We will also do the same with the walk ways.

We look forward to seeing you on the course!

Simon Berry, Head Greenkeeper, The Park course

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