An update from our Head Greenkeepers surrounding the courses ahead of reopening.
The Downs Course
This month we have had to change some plans due to the news that we can finally open up the courses on the 29th March. In my previous blog, I mentioned that we would continue with the bunker project if we remained closed, however with the new opening date, we rescheduled our greens maintenance which was due to take place on the 30th March. I’m sure if we kept the original dates, there would have been a lot of unhappy golfers around if we closed the course the day after your return! Therefore we decided to complete the maintenance early. Before we decided on what maintenance to carry out, we sent off soil samples to an independent laboratory to look at our thatch levels and percolation rates. With these results we then can form a plan for the future to improve the quality and consistency of the greens. Thatch levels are high and the percolation rates were poor. Therefore a more aggressive approach to maintenance was needed. A thatch removal and dilution programme has now been put in place to improve the firmness and infiltration rates of the profile, this will also improve the consistency of the greens throughout the year. The bunkers on the 4th and 18th holes have now been renovated and are ready for play. This completes our winter project works and I feel we have made a big impact on the course throughout the winter months, albeit working with reduced staffing levels. We will now look to complete the bunker project this winter, ahead of schedule.
In early March we hollow cored the greens using 13mm tines, removing about 8% of the playing surface. We then collected the cores and spread these around the course where grass coverage was poor, to help regenerate the areas which is also part of our sustainability policy. We then applied around 80 tonnes of sand for vital soil exchange and to dilute the thatch in the greens. We then applied a granular feed to aid recovery. Unfortunately the recovery has not been as quick as we wanted due to the low soil temperatures. However, if the soil temperatures start to rise in the next week, the greens should be in good condition upon your return.
Whilst on temperatures, I would just like to set some expectations for your return to the course. Although we have been shut for nearly 12 weeks, we have had very little recovery on some areas of the course due to the cold and wet weather. Some areas still need work, but will not recover until we get a good soil temperature of around 10 degrees Celsius. There are still some divots on tees and fairways, where the seed has not germinated due to the poor conditions. We have now granular and foliar fed the tees and aprons to help with recovery, when the grass seed has efficient temperature to germinate. We have also slit, brushed, over seeded and top dressed 20 tonnes of divot mix on the 18th fairway to improve the sward density. Although having no play on the course helps with reduced wear, it brings another problem of animal damage, especially being in such a rural location. With no golf on the course, the birds have caused severe damage on the 7th, 10th, 14th and 18th fairways. These areas will be repaired, but please take relief when required. However, it is not as bad as it sounds and the course is looking good for the time of year and we look forward to having you back to enjoy the course again.
We look forward to welcoming you back onto the course. Please remember to repair any pitch marks on the greens, not just your own and replace all divots taken.
See you on the course!
Rob Dyer, Head Greenkeeper, The Downs Course
The Park Course
It was pleasing to finally get the eagerly anticipated date for golf to return, giving us greenkeepers a target for us to complete all maintenance.
The weather has certainly not been on our side! Cold, wet, frozen conditions meant any recovery has been very slow. That being said, the course is looking very inviting with new pathways all edged and topped up, bunkers having a bit of attention with a fly-mo and being edged and our cutting programme on all areas is well under way. The greens are recovering well after an aggressive thatch removal.
The team, just the three of us, have scarified the greens to 15mm depth and hollow tined 70mm depth using a 13mm diameter tine removing about 12% of the putting surface. We have top dressed 50 Tonnes of sand which was worked into the holes.
We have also fed the greens with a granular fertiliser to aid recovery, watered and rolled. In the coming days the cutting will increase and also the cutting heights will be reduced.
The pictures below show the work done on the fairways, with a slit, rake and brush. Also, you will see the new holes layout and new paths to guide you. For more information on the changes to The Park course, please click here.
We are in good shape!
Look forward to seeing you on the course!
Simon Berry, Head Greenkeeper, The Park Course
The Park Course
The Park Course winds effortlessly around the beautiful 18th Century parkland surrounding Goodwood House.