We have reduced staffing levels to ensure we are working within the guidelines that have been set while the closure has been enforced. Therefore, Simon and I are working on our own courses doing essential maintenance which will mainly be keeping the turf alive, healthy and as well maintained as possible. With the guidelines in place, we still have some work to do on the courses such as topdressing, but we are hopeful that these may begin to be included in the “essential maintenance guidelines” should the restrictions continue towards the end of April and into May. Our low staffing levels are to protect the staff and keep them safe in these tough times.
For the full overview of the guidelines released by the R&A please click here.
Before the lockdown, we managed to put the first granular fertiliser on the greens to promote recovery from the winter months. We also plugged the worse greens which had bird damage on them. The greens are recovering well from the winters use, and in April we will apply another fertiliser to promote growth, albeit it at half rate.
Tees have also been fertilised and fully divoted to aid recovery.
We managed to complete the 13th and 14th bunker renovation work and install the new sand. These bunkers are now in play with the correct sand depths. Before we minimised the staff we also managed to get a covering of sand in the 12th bunkers, however more needs to be put in to get them into play when golf returns as this was just to cover the base before it rotted away after weed killing them off.
We have been experiencing a lot of bird and animal damage to the course. This is mainly due to no golfers on the golf course to deter them. We now have deer roaming around in the day and birds continually pecking at the playing surfaces. The badgers have also hit the 11th and 3rd fairways hard, pulling up the turf on the hunt for food.
Before the restrictions were put in place, we applied a 10mm pencil tine on all greens to break up compaction and allow air into the profile, with the holes open we put the first granular fertiliser on the greens to thicken up the grass sward and promote a healthy root system.
We have taken the opportunity to lengthen some of the fairways which has included the 4th, 5th and 7th, all have been made longer and reshaped to accommodate all standards of golf. We have also put a lot of work into reworking the approaches to greens; they are now wider to improve the playability and move away from the tight, bottleneck we had begun to see in some places on the course.
The aprons were fertilised a couple of weeks ago, and the recent warm weather has given them a boost in sward thickness and growth. All tees have been divoted all over, and we hope to see a full recovery and an unspoilt teeing surface when play resumes.
We are currently having a new water tank and pump system installed for The Park course which is excellent news for our watering system, however, with the current restrictions in place this is now taking longer than first planned, and we hope to have this up and running by the second week in April. While we are going through this period, I will be keeping the greens longer to encourage better photosynthesis as there is no need to stress out the plant unnecessarily.
We look forward to welcoming you back onto the courses soon.
Rob Dyer and Simon Berry, Golf At Goodwood Head Greenkeepers.