Well, the new year certainly hasn’t started with the best weather for golf! Here’s the latest Moor Allerton Golf Club Greens News from our Head Greenkeeper, Adam Matthews.
Happy New year to everyone. It seems we have welcomed the new year in the same wet and miserable fashion as we waved goodbye to the old one. You don’t need me to bore you with rainfall stats and weather charts, I think everyone is aware of the relentlessly wet conditions we have had to put up with.
The bad weather doesn’t stop the team from working, in-fact the rest bite it brings from maintaining the course allows us to make great strides with the winter project work. What the bad weather does bring is the need to make sensible and important decisions. It is my job to maintain and produce this golf course to the best standard possible, within the parameters and resources available to us. With that in mind I have to protect the surfaces from lasting and costly damage throughout such periods, and I have to protect my staff and the members.
Closing the golf course isn’t something I like doing, and its never a decision that is taken lightly.
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As I said in the previous report I was really happy with the winter preparation work that had been carried out and more importantly the healthy grass coverage. Through studying the local amateur weather forecasts we were able to plan and alter our maintenance programme effectively. The last bout of aeration was carried out with a thicker tine than normal, this would allow the holes to remain open longer, in light of probably not been able to get back onto the greens for a while. This has been very successful and helped water infiltration. We fed the greens with a slow release granular seaweed extract that will remain within the profile and slowly release the nutrients they need to remain strong through the winter months. The greens have stood up to the large amounts of rainfall and we haven’t had any standing water at all.
The most pleasing result for me is the fact that we have completely repelled any moss build up, and through such an extensive wet period that’s really encouraging. If that continues it will be a good cost save on any chemical moss control, and it will also enable us to target the grass species alone during spring renovation.
We have continued to hand mow at around 4.5mm, and with ground temperatures still extremely high for this time of year we have seen no real let up in growth. The Air2G2 work we carried out at the end of October has been a huge success, and i’m delighted that the second phase of this deep aeration process will be carried out again on Monday and Tuesday next week.
One of the most noticeable changes, and for me one of the most important over the last few months has been the root depth on the greens. This is purely down to the amount of aeration we have carried out on the greens. These 2 pictures are a before and after shot. Interestingly the shallow rooted, compact and stagnant soil picture was taken in May last year in reasonable dry conditions. The second picture on the same hole was taken last week. There is still a lot of work to do, but now that the sub surface is becoming more aerobic and manageable we can start to make in roads in reducing the Thatch layer in the top 4 inches.
In Play Areas
As you will notice a lot of the in play areas such as the fairways, semi rough and the green surrounds are a lot longer than they usually would be. Unfortunately due to the wet weather we are unable to get any heavy cutting machinery out onto the course until things firm up a bit. The freakishly mild temperatures over the last 6 weeks have meant that the grass hasn’t really stopped growing. We managed to hand cut all 27 green surrounds at the beginning of December, and we will aim to do this again next week if the conditions allow us to.
Tees have been hand cut a number of times, and as I write this report the team are hand cutting the approaches. If the mild temperatures carry on into February we aim to get a head start and carry out some renovation works on the tees and approaches.
We also plan to have the bunkers back in play as soon as possible. I have identified a number of methods to help improve the problematic bunkers on the course. We will be trialling a number of these methods over the next month to see which one will be most affective before we commit to any larger scale operation.
We set ourselves a number of targets towards the end of the summer in regards to what we wanted to achieve with our winter work schedule over the next few years. As a small team covering 27 holes we were realistic, and every member of the green keeping team had an input into what they would like to see done to improve the course. Many of the suggestions were similar and aimed towards attention to detail, and improving the aesthetics of the site as well as playability. The team have excelled expectations and we are actually 2 years in to that plan after 10 weeks.
The work to open up the hole around the green has been reported already. We plan to put in a small fence around that banking and also to level and improve the strip of rough between the lake and the stream. We will also be grassing and planting wild flower seed into the banking.
While studying some old course and land maps from when the new Moor Allerton Site was been designed, I noticed the wording ‘quarry’ around where the 18th tee is. I was intrigued to see what that could be and was amazed to find hidden in the brash and over growth an old quarry wall. For me, it was a feature that had to be unearthed, put on show and preserved. That has now been done, and further cleaning to the wall area will be done nearer the season. Not only will it benefit the playing surface through extra light and air, I think it adds great character to the hole.
In my opinion the 17th hole has the potential to be one of the best par 3’s in the area. As you will know better than me the green has been through a number of tough times over the last few years. This has been down to a number of issues. Soil condition, high disease pressure, constant changes in PH levels due to stagnant water build up and lack of percolation. To combat this the 17th has had a slightly tailored aeration and feeding programme compared to the rest of the greens on the course. This has worked very well so far and the green is performing as well as the rest, even through the bad weather period. It was also important that we allowed the green as much day light and air flow as possible. With that in mind we have worked on the boundary area to the right of the green, removing all brash and self seeded Elder, and also thinning the plantation. The old Oak tree within that area was dangerous and had many diseased limbs. We have managed to save the tree by removing the deadwood. Another huge benefit to the work carried out is the playability of the hole. The hazard can now easily be defined, this should speed up play and once complete the stream that will run the length of the hole into the pond will be a fantastic feature.
You will have noticed already I hope the changes to the boarder of the 5th hole. We have removed a number of trees around the tee area, making the Tee shot a lot better. The team have also removed all the brash and Elder and revealed the stream that stems the full length of the hole. Again this is another superb feature on our course that needs highlighting. It also changes the dynamics of the hole and this area is now easily accessible, and playable with a Red staked hazard boundary and not a white OB.
The 2 oldest trees on the golf course live within our 6th tee area. They have now been given the opportunity to live for another 400 years! Again 2 fantastic features that needed to be exposed, not only for the health of the trees and the tee area but mainly for everyone to enjoy.
The matter is in hand and a plan to fix and restore this area is in place and will commence shortly. Id like to thank Howard Armstrong for his help in dealing with this, he has been instrumental in leading the proceedings for us. This area is now roped off and the walkway to the left of the green is closed. Please keep away and abide by the barriers, it isn’t safe to walk on. The rest of the green is playable as normal.
The boundary banking to the right of the 14th has also been attended to by the team and cleared the full length of the hole removing any shrubbery, brash and deadwood. This will improve playability. We have also carried out a lot of work to the area around the green up to the 15th tee again helping the green benefit from extended light.
Id like to thank the club for supporting us in phase 1 of our fleet upgrade plan, and I’m pleased to say we have now agreed a number of deals to purchase some new machinery for the coming season. I’d also like to thank James Whittaker again for his continued support and help on a number of things for our department. It’s very refreshing been able to work closely together on the exciting plans and ideas for our club, and course.
I hope we get some better weather, thanks again for your cooperation, even more so in frustrating times. Please remember its just as, if not more frustrating for us.