After 10.5yrs at North Foreland Golf Club, I have taken up a very exciting and challenging new project within a Private College as Head of Grounds.
I hope that you have enjoyed my course updates throughout recent years and I would like to thank NFGC for a very enjoyable and successful period in my life.
Let’s hope that this blog continues with the existing team taking on the mantle.
All the best,
Maintenance week has come to an end with all the scheduled works completed despite some very challenging weather conditions. Counting the rain so far today, the site has experienced over 40mm of rainfall since Tuesday which is coming up to 2 inches. On the positive side, the bad weather kept the golfing numbers down thus allowing the maintenance team to crack on.
The works carried out on both courses started with the Northcliffe greens been verti-drained – solid tined with 12mm diameter tines to a depth of 225mm/9 inches. The surfaces were lightly top-dressed before the verti-drain and then the tines drill the sand right through the rootzone, reaching all depths/layers within the growing medium.The surfaces were then turf ironed and mowed. Ironing the greens continued throughout the days that followed.
The main course greens commenced with their programme of works after the Ladies Autumn Meet had gone through. Again, a light spin dress started the process, followed on by the verti drain working to the same depths as the Northcliffe and then the iron and mowers. All the main course surrounds were also aerated to a minimum depth of 6 inches using both the verti-drain and the pedestrian 648 aerator – this machine gives us more access to certain areas that the verti-drain can’t get to i.e. bunker surrounds, tight walk on walk off areas and more contoured run offs. All these works have allowed the rainfall to pass straight through the profile and leaving the potential for any surface water to drain off quicker.
The main course greens were sprayed yesterday with some Iron, water penetrate, seaweed and some worm deterrent. This has certainly been washed in after last night’s rain!!! The sc greens will get the same treatment next week.
The selective chalkland rough regeneration programme involving the annual mow and collect has also commenced this week The collecting of the material reduces the amount of nutrients being put back into the soil and thus helps to thin out the coarser grasses. Hoping for a dry week next week to finish off and treat the coarser grasses.
The 5Yr Plan drawn up by the committee will commence in the next 2 weeks with the removal of the 3rd right hand side fairway bunker and likewise the removal of the 17th right hand side fairway bunker being tackled first. The 5Yr Plan drawn up by the Sub Committee is available within the main office.
The 18th of this month saw the scheduled 1 Tee Start put in place for the maintenance day to allow the greenstaff to keep ahead of golf while carrying out essential works. It was programmed in to carry out the over seeding of the main course greens however the weather leading up to the day – 53mm of rainfall and the weather on the day didn’t allow for such works to go ahead. When over seeding, conditions need to be as dry as possible as otherwise the seed will only stick to the machine and not actually enter the grooves created within the profile by the disc seeder. This would result in too much seed being left on the surface and a waste of material, labour, money and overall resources.
Disc Over Seeding Machine and the optimum conditions leave the above impression the playing surfaces.
The decision was taken to slit aerate the surfaces to a depth of 6 inches, then solid tine aerate behind to a depth of 4 inches with a diameter of 19mm, turf iron the surfaces and finally mow the playing surfaces. It proved to be a very successful operation and was all completed ahead of the golf with no disruption to any rounds. The continued intensive aeration helps in exchanging toxic gases from the rootzone, promotes new rooting, improves moisture infiltration through the profile promoting firmer surfaces and allowing for all year round play.
A picture of the solid tining machine on the 13th green and a clear illustration of the slit aeration pattern followed by the soild tining over the top.
Light sand dressings in the weeks following add to the above practises and help to dilute any organic matter within the turf canopy and rootzone.
Today the 8th August saw all the Main Course greens over seeded with a Bent cultivar, applied through the Dyna Seeder machine. This practise was programmed in with the monthly Maintenance Day, 1 Tee Start, with little to no disruption to play. The day consisted of; greens brushed & mowed – sarrel rolled/spiked – Dyna Seeders – mowed again with groomers out followed finally by a light irrigation through the sprinklers.
The main renovation works to putting surfaces generally take place during August when courses are traditionally quieter in the holiday period. Any renovation scarring to the surfaces heals quicker during this period due to soil temperatures and the plants growing potential being optimum at this point in the year. This trend doesn’t apply here at North Foreland with the course remaining busy with many significant fixtures including both the Seniors & Ladies Captains Day, Centenary Cup, League Matches etc.
The above fixtures calendar lead the team to the decision of using the less disruptive Dyna Seeders on this occasion. The units fit onto a traditional greens triple mower and apply thousands of micro holes in the putting surface. The fine Bent seed then has a seed bed in which to establish within the existing composition, only if sufficient moisture is present to allow germination to take place. A second over seeding will take place towards the end of September. On that occasion our preferred choice of using the disc seeder will be used. This creates a groove/channel within the surface and on this site has a higher % germination success rate. The surfaces are reinstated immediately once a light dressing and turf iron have gone over them. Light rolling the days after soon return the putting surfaces to where they should be.
June 26th and the course looks like it is the end of August – straw like/burnt off fairways and aeration holes/slits opened up from treatments back in February. We are traditionally a very dry site, arguably the driest in the country but the recent lack of precipitation and prolonged periods of high winds have really zapped all the moisture from the plant.
The winds on this site are more damaging to the plant than direct sunlight in respect to evaporation rate loss. At least when the sun goes down the plant has a rest bite from losing any more moisture, however the strong winds over recent weeks have gone right through the night meaning 24hr moisture loss from the plant. These winds have made night time irrigation by means of the sprinklers not an option – poor target area coverage and water wastage would be the result. Uneven distribution with the surrounding trees, bunkers, roads etc. getting much of the sprinkler output.
Hand watering has been the theme of the last few weeks. Although labour intensive and juggling it around a very busy fixture card, it is the must efficient way to keep the priority areas of greens,tees and approaches from wilting point.
To date we are currently running at a near 50% deficit than where we were this time last year;
2014 – January to June = 405mm
2015 – January to June = 222.5mm (of which 101mm came in January!!)
One cannot fight mother nature and we try our best to not let it effect playing quality. It does seem to be feast or famine climate at the moment, but I am sure that it will shift again.
Jon Bartlett the Workshop Manager took delivery today of new cylinder and bedknife grinders to replace the old models. Grinding has become an essential in turf maintenance practises, extending mower/cylinder life, course presentation and plant health to name but a few reasons for updating the fleet. The previous Bernhard Grinders had proven themselves to produce the best quality of cut in the industry and we had no hesitation in continuing to be a customer. Fantastic machines, backed up by first class customer service.
The purpose built grinding room built by the team in house a few years ago, will continue to be the turf plants”best friend”..
The monthly 1 Tee Start maintenance day was upon us again this morning, with near perfect conditions. All 20 of the main course greens were topdressed and then solid tined with 9mm tines to a 4 inch depth with 2.5 inch spacings. The dressing was punched into the holes by the aerator and any surface sand remaining was power brushed into the holes.
All that remained was a mow with the groomers out before any golf could catch up with the team. An early start but so worthwhile and the operator clocked up just over 11 miles while working the pedestrian aerator!!!