Grass Clippings

Around the grounds

September is turning out to be quite a month. The Jet Stream bringing up some heat from the Mediterranean has suddenly meant that shorts are mandatory again as everyone enjoys a little autumnal sun.  With shorter days, the evenings are cooler but as turf managers, we are more than happy that soil temperatures remain buoyant for a while longer. It assists the greens’ conditioning for the current tournaments and ensures that we continue to keep all surfaces in good condition. Some Members will have noticed that, between all the competitions, we are thinking about the season to come and carry out renovations on the various sports.

On courts 25 to 28 the top surface has been removed down to the roots and the team shall level, over seed and top dress to begin the process of starting a new surface for next year. We are keeping courts 19 to 24 open for one last week to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to play on the grass before we ‘go to town’ on them with of our favourite toys thus: aerate – over seed and top dress.

On the golf course, the rough and fairways are being over seeded to put back areas that were burned out during the Big Heat of August. Once the rains come, as I am sure they will, we shall see some growth in these areas once more. Greens’ renovations are planned for the 5th and 6th of October and the rest of the week will be taken up with tees aeration works and fairway sanding.

Next month we will commence work on the croquet lawns and by the end of the month they shall be returning to ¾ lawns. So, during the next few weeks we shall remain at full steam and on course for end-of-season practices to ensure that the surfaces have the best start possible in the new year.

On the golf course we will start planting areas in the next few weeks that have been identified as prime candidates (shaped and covered with myplex during the lock down) for the landscaping programme. We have moved the concept plans out of the halfway hut and made a notice board on the outside of the wall of the hut for those who are interested in the plans and the planting. This autumn we have a number of projects continuing on the course, including the irrigation up-grades and installing misting irrigation on bunker slopes to improve summer resistance to heat stress on the bunker faces. We shall also be continuing the conservation project around the recycling unit, by holes 12, 13 and the 3rd.

Winter works are always punctuated by Christmas and the New Year activities and we try and use this as a turning point from one major project to another. Predicting what weather shall dominate winter is a national past time I realise and the indicators that people find to forecast a ‘hard’ winter or mild and wet always amuses me. Currently, nature is holding on to her summer coat as much as possible, with the trees still green and photosynthesising and in the gardens, flowering plants still blooming forth. With the ground so dry as we recently found while conducting some root measurements, it will take a lot of rain this year to re-hydrate the ground to depth under the golf course.

Thank a Greenkeeper Day – 23rd September 2020

It has been a difficult year for everyone what with Lockdown, shielding, or as we have on the grounds team, trying to maintain the estate as best as possible through the Covid-19 situation ready for the Members’ return at the end of May. These changes have been difficult to manage and on 23rd September the major golf maintenance organizations are encouraging all those who love golf to thank their course’s staff as part of ‘Thank a Golf Course Greenkeeper Day’, a campaign to recognize those who helped to keep the game going through the difficult times this year. The major institutions backing this enterprise are:  British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA), the Australian Sports Turf Managers Association (ASTMA), the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association (CGSA), the Federation of European Golf Greenkeepers Associations (FEGGA) and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA). Altogether, the groups represent more than 31,000 golf course management professionals in 78 countries. The celebration will include a commercial that will begin rotation on the Golf Channel and other media outlets, and social media messages touting the many ways greenkeepers make the game more enjoyable and sustainable.

At the Club, we are encouraging golfers, tennis players and garden lovers to thank the staff from all three sectors to show their appreciation for their commitment to their duties during this and every season ‘Grounds staff work hard each day to provide the excellent playing conditions that add to the enjoyment of the game,’ says GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans. ‘But in the face of the pandemic, they have played a key role in developing and maintaining the safety protocols that allow golfers to engage in their favorite sport while adhering to pandemic-related guidelines and restrictions. Sport has been a refuge for so many, so we are taking a day to recognize the men and women who work behind the scenes to make the golf course a perfect escape right now’.

Fruits of your labour

September is a time for harvesting the rewards of the year, whether you are an allotment holder or just started a back garden plot this year as a beginner. Now is the time to tidy up your strawberry plants and clear away any used straw, as this will harbour pests and diseases over winter. Strawberries have a short life span and should be discarded and replanted with new verities every few years, if you wish to have a good constant crop. You can pot up strawberry runners to make extra plants for next year. Fruits from canes – raspberries, currents etc. are some of the easiest fruit to start to grow. But there is a mystic surrounding them that puts people off. What is essential is a fruit cage to keep the bird life off them before you can harvest but this can be as complex a structure or simplistic as you wish. Now is the time to cut back the fruited canes of your summer raspberries, leaving the new green canes for next year’s crop. Tie in next year’s raspberry canes to support wires or fencing. Blackberries, as most will have seen grow wild without any care and the fruit when ripe can be used straight away or popped into the freezer some for use later. Hardwood cuttings of currants, gooseberries and figs can be taken now to increase your stock and it is a good time to purchase them from suppliers of plant material if you wish to start a plot. With bear root season starting in November, it is a good time to consider planting apple, pear, and plum trees within the garden or to be trained on a wall. Fruit are very versatile plants in a garden and can be inter-planted between ornamental subjects and not just for a dedicated allotment plot.

Peter Bradburn | Course and Grounds Manager