Since the last greens meeting in early March all surfaces have developed extremely well and without any problems. All early spring renovation programmes were completed well and on time, particularly on greens where sward development was accelerated following the intensive aeration work.
The base fertiliser that was applied towards the end of March has done a very good job in providing a trickle feed of nutrients to the developing sward particularly when temperatures had started to rise.
Due to the heavy rainfall during April course maintenance plans were hindered and therefore adjusted to suite the conditions. All greens were aerated using the Air 2 G2 machine at maximum depth, once completed the Toro 648 Pro core machine with solid tines aerated the upper profile. Once this work was completed a liquid spray application of various products was applied to all greens surfaces, this mixture was used to improve sward density, colour and quality. As soon as temperatures started to improve a spring granular fertiliser was applied, this product has the ratio of 6:5:18 and is designed to release its package of nutrients at slightly lower ground and air temperatures. The results were very encouraging and the improvement to the surface was very obvious.
Sand top dressings followed during mid to late April, these dressings fill in any imperfections in the swards surface and therefore improved ball roll and overall greens performance. Due to the Blue greens having a higher percentage of Agrostis grasses within the sward these greens were verti cut to remove some of the surface lateral growth prior to the sand being applied.
Once the surface became smoother it was time for the height of cut to be lowered to 3mm, this made a dramatic difference to the playability of the greens, and coupled with turf ironing gave good early greens speeds and performance for April.
Throughout May several more applications of sand as a top dressing were applied, theses dressings were lighter than previous and were designed to top up what had already been applied, on completion the sward was now full of sand. The greens had at this point reached a stage where the final adjustment to cutting heights could be achieved which was the summer height of 2.5mm.
Both surfaces have improved considerably throughout the early part of the season, regular divot filling and top dressing on the tees has enabled the surfaces to be smooth and divot free. Spring fertilisers were applied to promote recovery growth, plus soluble iron products to strengthen the sward were also applied.
During early May an herbicide was applied to control weeds in the sward, the results were very good and a good level of control was achieved.
Once again the condition of the fairways has been exceptional, sward density and the aesthetical appearance has been excellent. Regular spray applications of liquid fertiliser coupled with special turf products to enhance colour have enabled the fairways to look in such great condition.
The worst affected areas for weeds have been treated with an Herbicide and a good level of control was achieved.
Divot filling has been ongoing throughout the early part of the season, this work has been particularly successful and coupled with the good growth that has been achieved it has enabled divot recovery to be at a high level.
The condition of the bunkers continue to be of a very high standard, regular raking and sand distribution enables the playability of the bunkers to be very consistent.
During May the irrigation systems were in full use which was due to the warm and dry conditions, the systems have in the main coped very well and without too many issues, which once again is due to the diligence of our three Head Greenkeepers who keep a close watch on all operational aspects.
There has of course been a few issues which were swiftly resolved to include a pump at the Blue pump room which was installed in 1993, which decided to blow a main seal. On close inspection by our pump engineers it was declared uneconomical to repair, a replacement pump was purchased and installed. Several electrical valves that are housed underground and are responsible for water transfer from the main reservoir out to the satellite holding tanks developed electrical issues. These issues were resolved by our local electrician that I have been using for almost 25 years [by now he has a full understanding of our systems and the gremlins that pop up from time to time]
During the the early part of the season abstraction from Pilling brook had not been affected and we have filled up the reservoir fully, which was great news.
Throughout May water usage was high due to the warm dry weather, surprisingly during this period we were able to continue to abstracting from Pilling Brook, so at the time of going to print the reservoir is almost full to capacity, which is amazing news.
Following the Euro Pro Tour event on the Blue course, an early cut and collect operation has commenced which is mainly for the playability of the course. The slightly longer grass adjacent to the fairway edges has been the area where the work has been concentrated on, which will assist in the pace of play.
This facility continues to develop and improve, regular mowing has now created a shape to the holes and an aesthetical appearance which makes it look mature beyond its years.
At the time of preparing this report several tournaments have been completed and have been most successful.
The full Euro Pro Tour event on the Blue course was a great success, the golf course not only looked superb but played equally as well, all players and the tour were full of praise to Head Greenkeeper Tim Brown and his staff for completed such a wonderful piece of work.
The Red course has as always been very busy with external events, all of which have been a great success. The last event before going to print was the Army championships, I cannot ever remember receiving so many wonderful comments from all players regarding the course conditioning and its playability.
Head Greenkeeper Alex James and his staff are to be congratulated for their outstanding work.
The Brabazon trophy will have been staged by the time this meeting has taken place, at the time of preparing this report the Red course is in a good position with all surfaces in a good playable state.
Golf Courses and Estate Manager