Greens Plant & Equipment aka “The Fleet”

Greens Plant & Equipment aka “The Fleet”

We have 12 pieces ranging from high ticket items such as Fairways and Semi Rough mowers down to small hand mowers and all within an age range of 4 to 17 years.

Yet this figure is meaningless when the life of each item is measured in running hours via a gauge on each machine. In general terms 1000 machine hours is equivalent to 100,000 car miles and apart from our recently acquired greens mower every piece of our fleet is way above the maximum running hours recommended by the manufacturer Toro.

As a direct consequence of this the annual maintenance costs have been rising to the point that in the current year 2017/8 30% of the overall greens budget has been spent in this way – when we would all have preferred to see that money spent on course improvement programmes.

Toro would charge £2500 per annum per machine (for labour only) to handle all our maintenance requirements so your greens team have attended Toro’s own training courses becoming proficient with general maintenance procedures to actively keep external costs down.

Thus we have reached a critical point with our fleet management; continue to spend significant amounts of money on very old machines or invest to reduce maintenance costs and further improve our course? To put it more simply there is a limit as to how much you can tighten the elastic band before it breaks and that is where we find ourselves now.

As a club we are all aware of the financial restraints we live with but it is now imperative for us to address the real issues surrounding our fleet. We must maintain the overall quality of our fantastic golf course and on this your greens committee are able to share some exciting news with you.

Head Greenkeeper Chris recently presented to the Directors a proposal for a fleet rolling replacement programme. Whilst not yet able to fully commit the club to this it has been agreed that within the next 6/8 weeks there will be three new additions to the fleet namely a Semi Rough mower, Tees & Approaches mower and Small Utility Vehicle (SUV). We are able to do this, now, as a current machinery finance arrangement is coming to an end and the money from that existing outlay will be transferred/utilised to part fund up to 80% of the monthly outlay for these additions.

There will be little or no resale value for the old machines to enable them to be thrown in as a deposit so for the remainder of this calendar year there will be a small monthly shortfall to be covered from club funds. Thereafter the exercise will at the very least become cost neutral thanks to the expected reduction in maintenance costs associated with new machinery plus the aforementioned expertise within the greens team.

Greens Committee: Carolyn Hartopp, Malc Carter, Paul Fairbrother, Paul Booler, Chris Weir (Head Greenkeeper), Ken Bonser (Chair). Please feel free to contact us with any enquiries.

The Beasts

The Beasts

With the UK still reeling from the effects of a period of rain, the Beast from the East, a thaw, more rain, the mini Beast and what will become another thaw members may well ask the question
“What have/will our Greens Team be doing during this period?”
The person best placed to answer this is our Head Greenkeeper Chris:
“For the past 24 years I have been a greenkeeper at various clubs across the UK and as a result of the combination of rain, snow, thaw, freeze, more snow, another freeze, another thaw and more rain forecast this is without doubt the wettest period that I can remember.
However, the time and funds we have put into improving drainage throughout the course does mean that it drains and recovers much quicker than it used to.
For several weeks now we have not been able to get our machines out on to the course as often as we would like and even when the sun does begin to shine we will still have to wait for the course to dry out before we dare take them out. The inevitable effect of this is the winter programme plans have been disrupted and partly re-written with the major loser being the work on and around the 12th bunkers which will now be programmed into our 2018 winter programme.
On the positive side we have taken the opportunity to complete a full maintenance programme on these machines (more information in the next foreground) in readiness for when they can go out.
Other work completed includes around the 6th and 15th bunkers plus new turf on the 16th Ladies Tee. We have continued with routine course maintenance such as tree pruning, repairing pot holes and edging paths, tidying up the roadway that runs through the course and laying more slab donations in ditches.
3 new trees have been planted thanks to 2 members who are not seeking publicity for their kind donations. These have been especially welcome as not only do they improve the vista of the course they do, with careful placement, assist greatly with drainage in the surrounding areas. If any other members wish to consider making a tree donation the cost for each is around the £50.00 mark – please contact me (Chris) for details.
I must say thank you to those members who helped with the recent divot day, it is always greatly appreciated. As the weather improves we may look at another one to further repair the Crow damage on the 14th and details will be circulated accordingly.
Finally – a tip to all members – check this out! ”

MJC for the Greens Committee
19.3.18

Genreal Course Update

Genreal Course Update

Bird Damage
The issue of surface damage continues but hopefully an end is in sight once we get past the current snow and freezing conditions and into the Spring. To help course recovery another
DIVOT DAY will be held on THURSDAY 8th MARCH starting at 09.00
This is expected to last for a couple of hours or so and all that is needed is you armed with a bucket. Your Greens Team will be preparing a ‘divot mix’ ready to collect in your bucket and they will be very grateful for any time you can give to them on that day.
Please contact any member of the Greens Team to confirm your assistance.

Slabs Appeal
To repeat previous appeals the team are still on the lookout for old slabs that can be used in the drainage ditch that runs around the back of the clubhouse. In the parts of the ditch where they have been used so far they have proven to be very effective in assisting with the water flow and lessening the threat of flooding so please, if you have any that you are not using please contact any member of the Greens Team.

Mystery Golfer 2
In vogue with the cinematic trend for ‘second instalments’ we repeat the sentiments from an issue of Foreground dating back to November 2013.
As a collective we all as Members have done a great job by
Replacing divots on fairways and in the rough
Repairing pitch marks on the greens
Raking bunkers
Using the soil mixture provided to repair divots on tees
Not using the course or greens for chipping and putting practice

We have all seen the benefits of our combined input to this type of course “maintenance” so to members both new and old we say well done and thank you.

Please remain vigilant to ensure the Mystery Golfer does not return in 2018

MJC for the Greens Committee
28.2.18

Additional Course Maintenance

Additional Course Maintenance

Most of us have seen and many have commented on the unsightly evidence of Fusarium fungal disease on almost all of our greens. Whilst this can never be fully eradicated it is quite easily controlled by the processes of Verti draining, Fertilising and Top Dressing. An effective chemical spray is available but use is weather dependent as the ground must be dry on a day when it is not windy.
Instead our Greens team will be Verti draining all our greens this Thursday 1st February. The process punches holes in the surface without removing any cores and the holes will be fertilised and left open for 7 days to allow air into the greens to encourage good root growth. This will be followed by overseeding and top dressing with the anticipation that within the next 3 weeks the Fusarium will be back under control.

We should also note that Verti draining must be done at specific times of the year and the consequences of not doing it are the greens will become soft and spongy creating a slower putting surface and diseases such as the Fusarium we are seeing today will be encouraged probably leading to playing the greens less in the winter.

COURSE SURFACE DAMAGE BY BIRDS
To protect their crops our landowning neighbours have, in recent times, introduced the use of Bird scaring equipment to help keep Crows and Magpies out of their fields. As a consequence these birds have had to look elsewhere for food sources in the winter months and not surprisingly they have seen the manicured area of our golf course as a prime source.
This has led to them pecking away at the surface of significant parts of our estate to find small grubs etc and this is evidenced by the damage now very apparent on the 14th fairway as well as many other greens and approaches.
Up until 2/3 years ago there was a chemical available to deter them but this has been withdrawn from the market. We have been looking at alternative solutions including Scarecrows and different reflective types of product but due to the size of the estate to be covered the price (what else?) of using these is prohibitive.
Unfortunately this damage is something we will have to live with for the next few weeks until the first growth of berries appears on trees and bushes diverts their attention away from us – until next year. Once we reach that period the green team will top dress all affected areas and full recovery should be achieved by the start of the 2018 golfing season.

MJC (for the Greens Committee)
30 January 2018

15th Green and 16th Tee Area

15th Green and 16th Tee Area

A result of the well-known financial constraints across all areas of our club is that we are constantly reviewing all areas of the Course to allocate the limited resources towards various improvement works whilst ensuring that much needed maintenance work does not suffer.
This means that some previously mentioned improvement ideas and plans must be put back to be replaced with others and an example of this is in the corner of the 15th Green and 16th tees.
The levelling of the 16th tee has been planned for some time now and this work will involve the use of our heavier equipment to strip it down, move soil and re-lay turf etc. Whilst that equipment is at the 16th we will, in a change of plan, now begin to address the recurring issues with drainage from the 15th greenside bunkers, the pathway and other surrounding areas.
The 16th tee levelling is straight forward but:


DID YOU KNOW – each time a bunker is edged and trimmed you increase the size of it.
Stating the obvious? Maybe but the outcome is astounding and can even be detrimental, consider this from the point that our bunkers were last reshaped etc 10 years ago.
Each time edging & trimming is done a minimum of 1cm of soil is removed from each edge of the bunker meaning an overall loss of up to 2 cms across it. A bunker is edged 5 or 6 times a year so the sizes across it can increase by a minimum of 10 cms every year.
Losing 10 cms per year for 10 years means a total loss of 100 cms (39.37” in old money) – is it any wonder that we keep going into them !


The serious side to Did You Know is that the drains laid in the 15th greenside bunkers 10 years ago were made for the full length of each bunker. They were not connected to any outlet, instead they were laid in the base to function almost as soakaways that would gather water in to prevent flooding but then allow it to dissipate through the base at the lowest end of the bunker.
Now that the bunkers are bigger the drains are at least 0.5m from each end of them so in the left hand greenside bunker when the drain is full the water floods it at the low end.
All of this has complicated any proposed work to achieve efficient drainage around that whole area so, given budget constraints, there is no option but to split it into two or even three phases as follows:

Phase 1 (presently underway)
Level the 16th Tee (Mens).
15th Bunkers – Front left of the green we have a relatively large but little used bunker that if retained would require considerable work to bring it up to standard. As a result this will be converted into a grass bunker which will be shaped so that it will still provide a hazard in front of the green but without sand and the maintenance necessary for a sand bunker. The 2 greenside bunkers will be redesigned, in line with “our preferred style” as has been completed around the 6th green. This will involve a smaller base, larger gather areas and renewing drainage.
Weather permitting this should all be completed by the end of February.

Phase 2 (as/when finances allow)
Monitor closely the impact of phase 1 especially in the areas from the pathway along the left and across the front of the green. If necessary a new drain will be laid running to a soakaway well to the right of the green. The drains from the two remaining bunkers will be connected to it.
Phase 3 (as/when finances allow)
Once phases 1 & 2 are complete it will become clearer as to what is needed to solve the very difficult issue of drainage along the pathway between the 15th tee to 16th tees. Whatever drainage is there is not proving adequate but one of the problems seems to be no-one really knows what drains have been laid in the past i.e. where, where to and how deep they are.
Appeal

There is no doubt that a solution will be found for Phase 3 but it would be of great assistance if any member past or present who has any knowledge of previous works undertaken would share that with us so that we can avoid any duplication of ‘good try but not successful’.
If you think you can help please contact any member of the Greens Committee.

MJC (for the Greens Committee)
25 January 2018

Bunkers

Bunkers

Recent Member surveys continue to highlight the biggest single area of concern as the bunkers on our course. Members may rest assured that your Greens Team do listen and this issue brings you up to date with proposals to facilitate overall improvements.
The last major work on the 60 bunkers took place some 10 years ago when around £80,000 was spent on a major re-think on the construction, shaping and positioning throughout the course. The latter element remains positive but time has taken its toll on the other aspects meaning that the next stage of work is now necessary.
Bunker bases have deteriorated for a number of reasons i.e. rainfall, high winds, raking and compaction. This has resulted in a lack of consistency within the bunkers with the sand also becoming contaminated by debris from the bases, soil from the steeply sloped lips and blocked drains. Additional contaminates are top dressing ‘spread’ from greens and grass cuttings from nearby mowing.
With the Members concerns foremost in mind we have looked closely at many other courses, with differing financial budgets, from different parts of the UK. From this research we have now settled on a specific style of bunker that we believe will take us through the next few years and this is now evident on those recently changed around 6th green.
Drainage has been renewed, bases have been levelled and the “lips” around the bunkers have been removed. The sand area in the base has been reduced but the gather area around the bunkers has been increased so players must remain very wary of where they put their ball off the tee – a shot to the right might have been safe before the work but it might not be now!
It is hoped that reduced maintenance time will also be achieved and other bunkers will be changed as finances allow. The 8th hole is next in line in January and it is hoped to see another hole done in February – details will be released as soon as possible.
Reference is often made about the sand that is used, presently it is Redhill 32 grade from Banks Amenity. Given that we have used around 160 tons in the last 6 years this is always under review but with other high class courses, including Woburn, taking the same grade it remains as the best option for us too.
Finally, we are looking at converting some of the least used sand bunkers into grass bunkers. Nothing has been finalised yet but full details will be announced when decisions are made.

MJC – for the Greens Committee
5th December 2017

Greens Team Winter Programme

Greens Team Winter Programme

Greens Team

This summer has seen several changes of personnel and it all began in May with Martin Anderson leaving us. It was 4 weeks before Jack Gilford joined us from Scraptoft but 6 weeks later he took the
opportunity to pursue a career working on ground maintenance in the Cricket and Rugby environments.
Frank Kempster joined us working 3 days a week and he has brought with him a lot of experience. The team then returned to full strength in October when Lee Matthes joined us as our full time apprentice. The picture below introduces them all to you, new or updated profiles of all the team are being prepared and will be published over the next few weeks.

Greens Team

These changes inevitably caused delays to some of the ‘smaller’ work such as the tidying of path edges and the cutting around ditches and ponds etc but the good news is that we should catch up with these over the next few months and before the start of the 2018 playing season.

Winter Programme
“Did You Know” – our greens team spend an average of 28 hrs per week on bunker maintenance that covers raking, weeding and trimming !
6th Green The first major project has covered the greenside bunkers. For some time and often mentioned in member surveys the consistency of these bunkers has been a major cause for concern. In response we have taken the time to research their structure and shape with the dual aim of overall improvement and a reduction in the time taken to maintain them.
Following the last Members survey they have now been remodelled and reshaped, drainage has been cleared and edges turfed. These areas are now designated as G.U.R and to allow the turf to take properly are likely to remain so through to the New Year.
The intention now, as and when finances permit, is to redesign a number of other “difficult” bunkers around the course.
Deep rough has been cut back and will be sprayed with a selective weed killer that will work against thistles and nettles. This is to allow the planting of wild flowers to add colour to the course.
A lot of time is currently being spent on the collection and mulching of leaves and as the winter progresses you will see a lot of tree pruning throughout the course. This is to raise the canopies to encourage much needed air flow and light beneath them.
Work will start shortly to level the Men’s Yellow tees on the 16th hole
Starting on Monday 20th November all greens will be Vertidrained, top dressed and fertilised. There will be some disruption to play for no more than 2-3 days but the outcome should be that we can remain on them well into the winter months. A word of caution though – plans such as these will always be dictated by the weather !
Pathway from the 15th tee to green
Significant plans are in hand to resolve the issue of waterlogging in this area but financial constraints do mean that they cannot be fully implemented at this time. Instead and as an interim measure the full length of this path is to be widened by approx 1 metre and levelled to introduce a natural and consistent fall (without dips) down to the drainage grill that is alongside the green.
From that point the drainage pipe that exits in the deep rough by the 16th tees has already been cleared and the impact of this work will be assessed through the winter.

MJC – for the Greens Committee
11 November 2017