Greenkeeper's Report April 2019

As we enter the new season we’d like to give our members an update of what has been happening at the club over the winter months and what we plan to do going forward.

He’s Back!

Welcome back Ryan Oliver to the team, after 18 months away from the club, including a year at the world famous Harbour Town Golf Links. Ryan is back to work with the Greenkeeping team for the Summer!

We look forward to having Ryan back working at the club and we’re sure that with the extra knowledge and experience he has gained on his travelled, Burstwick will quickly benefit and be in great shape. Welcome back Ryan!

Weeds in 2019

As we have discussed in our previous report, we decimated all of the clover and other broad leaf weeds on the course last year, after more than tripling the weed-killer budget. This was very well received by members and in 2019 we aim to continue progress and do the same again.

What we are doing different in 2019 is we’ve also fertilised the fairways early Spring to give them a boost of growth before any weeds begin to take hold, this should mean that the weeds don’t get chance to spread on the fairways like they have done in previous years; a form of prevention rather than curing. But don’t worry, any weeds that do appear will be killed again by our team.

Hollow coring the greens

Greens

We have recently cored our greens for the third time in just over 12 months, and this is done to improve the growing profile of the turf, which in turn leads to better, more consistent surfaces all year round.

We took extra care when coring this time to avoid any issues that we had previously with some holes being left unfilled with sand, and already you can see a massive difference. The greens are coming back nicely and are showing great signs that in 2019 they will be the best they have been in years!

Our focus now turns to trying to increase root growth as we have had issues in the past with shallow rooting on some greens which can cause disease and other issues, so we will keep members updated on how this is doing.

Bunkers

We have been continuing to top up bunkers throughout the winter with around 40 tonnes of sand and are confident that right now they are the best they have been in over 10 years. We still have improvements to make but the positive comments that we are receiving from members tell us a story that progress is being made.

Fairways & Tees

As discussed above we have fertilised our fairways for the first time in around 5 years to give them an early boost into the season, this will mean that the fairways should have an increased thickness of turf throughout the course, which will produce a more prominent stripe when mowing too.

We have began putting in some new irrigation to two of our competition tees on holes 2 and 18, and aim to have these completed by the end of April. This will help the turf on these tees continue to grow and resist wear through the summer months, producing a better playing surface and presentation.

Rain bird Sprinkler

Irrigation Repairs

We are continuing to conduct a number of irrigation repairs on the course as we still have a few leaks, but with increased research from the Rain Bird website and advise from our Golf Course Constructors MJ Abbots, we are aiming to have all of these solved within the next few weeks for a stress free summer of irrigating the course!

Conclusion

In 2018 we made massive steps towards improving the greens, bunkers and fairways, and in 2019 we aim to continue pushing forward for a better golf course. Obviously with a small team we will never get everything correct all of the time but hopefully our members will agree that we are making improvements in the right areas.

Greenkeeper's Report August 2018

Around one year ago we prepared a Greenkeeper's Report which talked all about the problems we had faced with the course in 2017, and how we weren't happy with it's progress. Below we have made comparisons to last year's report in order to evaluate what has changed in 2018 and how we hope to move forward next year.

Clover.jpg

Operation #CloverKill was a success

In 2017's report we talked about the fact that clover had all but overtaken the course last year and how we wanted to increase the herbicide budget by a factor of two to combat the problem in 2018. We are very please to say that this year we were determined to absolutely wipe out the problem by spraying every single fairway and 80% of the rough areas to completely get rid of clover for the year.

We actually didn't double the herbicide budget to do this, we more than tripled it! We had to do this to show the members we were serious about improving the course.

This doesn't mean that the problem will go away for good, and we're not naive enough to think that. In 2019 we will need to more than likely spend a very similar amount to keep the clover at bay, and we aim to do just that.

Greens

Last year our words were that the greens weren't "where we wanted them to be". This was because the thatch level of the greens had grown too deep, meaning the surface was holding too much moisture and the grass roots became much shallower which was a haven for disease, weeds and everything else you don't want on your greens.

Sweep and Fill

As part of an ongoing process we promised to begin working hard on remedying this by putting in place a more aggressive aeration programme which would take away more thatch and introduce more sand into the surface to get them back to how they used to be. In Spring we cored with 10mm diameter tines instead of the 8mm tines we used previously (which also go about 30% deeper), and this has had a noticeable effect over the summer, with our greens being slightly firmer and better draining than last year. This is not an overnight remedy though, we will be coring again in a month's time to further progress the greens.

Another change we have made is the introduction of a Wetting Agent programme in 2018, to help the roots have access to water deeper into the profile of the rootzone, promoting healthier growth in drier times.

Over the course of 18 months to 2 years we should see a vast improvement to the firmness and drainage of the surface, aiding better gaseous exchange for the roots which will lengthen them, and the greens will then become more resistant to disease and be a much better, year-round putting surface.

As many will notice we are still suffering with disease on some of the greens (mainly 6, 8, 11), but we will be monitoring this in the coming days and spraying with fungicide if it worsens. As the greens get better due to our new aeration regime this should become less of a problem each year.

When we core the greens in September we will be hiring a Sweep & Fill machine, which will disperse the sand into the cores much more evenly then our previous methods, and get rid of any excess sand on the surface, meaning the recovery time from the aeration will be MUCH quicker and the greens will be back to normal a lot sooner.

Bunkers

Over the past month we have been receiving a lot of compliments about the difference in the bunkers since we topped up around 40 of them in June. We have opted to begin topping them up on a little & often basis, rather than our old method of waiting for a full renovation when a bunker gets too bad. 

Previously we felt that full renovation of the worst bunkers each winter would lead to eventually having a full set of 70 bunkers that are better than the year before, but in actual fact this hasn't happened. Instead of chasing the "perfect" bunker by taking out the old contaminated sand and renewing the drainage before adding new, we are instead now going to keep the old sand in and continue to top up with new sand on a more frequent basis.

While this means that the contaminated sand will still be in there so the bunker may not look as white as it would with 100% new sand, but the levels should be more consistent and there should be a nice firm base of sand with an inch of 'fluffy' sand at the top where your ball will sit. This method should be a much easier way of maintaining consistent sand levels because it's much less labour intensive.

Overall, our bunkers right now are the best they have been in the last two years due to the much better sand levels particularly in the greenside bunkers. We have paid more attention to the bunker edges this year too and they are a lot better presented than in 2017.

There are a couple out there that at the moment have a little too much sand in and these should bed in once we get some rain. This coming winter, we aim to get all of the bunkers topped up that we didn't get done in June, so around another 30 bunkers will receive various amounts of sand.

Driving Range

As discussed in the News Blog a few weeks ago, we have doubled the amount of new balls for the driving range in 2018, from 6,000 to 12,000. We have also invested in four new Truestrike mats which are a much more realistic surface to practice from, reacting like a fairway to your swing and strike. We have also added new flags to the range and introduced a map in each bay to detail the yardage of the targets. All these little additions help you get the most from your practice.

Fairways

Our fairways have been very brown this summer due to the huge lack of rain since May, and while they don't look as pretty without the stripes, they have still played well this year. As we begin to get more rain in the back end of the season the fairways should green up nicely going into winter. Going into 2019 we aim to give them a feed to get the turf more full and lush, something we have to do because they are built on ex-farmland and do not have enough natural nutrients in the soil.

Irrigation Repairs

We have conducted quite a few irrigation repairs (three replaced sprinklers, 7 replaced decoders, one replaced valve) this summer to get the system back up to spec, we still have a few small lefts from seals on sprinkler heads which we hope to get to within the next month or two.

Conclusion

2017 was a big learning curve for the greenkeepers and management of the club. Lessons were learned with regards to keeping the course moving forward, and hopefully members will see that money has been put where the proverbial mouth is in regards to killing weeds, and improving greens and bunkers. We still have some way to go but hopefully members and visitors alike will agree that we have made inroads in 2018.

Worm Suppressant taken off the market

This year a crucial pesticide has been taken off the market for golf clubs, a chemical called Carbendazim. This chemical is used by many of us golf clubs to prevent wormcasts appearing on our surfaces. Some clubs spray their greens and tees, but we have always applied the chemical to our fairways too.

Why do we want to suppress worms? The wormcasts that they leave behind cause us lots of problems. They smear under foot and trolley wheels, creating muddy areas, they are unsightly, they can block up mowers, they cause uneven playing surfaces, they prevent good surface drainage, they help weeds germinate, and they smother grass so it can’t grow effectively.

The chemical was been taken off the market earlier this year as it was deemed to be too dangerous to the environment, even though it has been used for decades, and there is no replacement that has come onto the market so golf clubs are actively looking at other ways to control the worms. On the right is a poster that is being circulated by the British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association with information about the ban.

Please be patient with your golf club this winter if you feel the the playing surfaces are messier and wetter than they have been in previous winters, it’s probably not their fault! 

Every club is facing this issue at the moment and we are all going to be doing our best to keep our courses as good as possible this winter!

Burstwick says farewell to jet-setter Ryan Oliver

Ryan Oliver

The time has come when one of our own wants to fly the nest and travel to pastures new, and this time has come for our greenkeeper Ryan Oliver.

Ryan has been with us since 2013 when he started working with us as a volunteer, and progressed into employment with us from 2014. Throughout this time he went through the ranks at college to achieve his foundation degree (FdSc) in Sports Surface Management, which he completed this summer. 

Throughout the time Ryan worked with us he was an integral part of the team, always keen to come up with new ideas and help with whatever job was on hand, and he will be sadly missed by all the staff, management and members.

So where is he going? There is a little known golf resort called Harbour Town Golf Links in South Carolina, USA. Ryan was successfully accepted on a one-year internship at this famous PGA Tour venue earlier this year, and you might have guessed he is a little bit excited about his journey! Needless to say, we’re sure that he will excel at this top class golf club, and look forward to hearing many stories from him along the way.

Good luck Ryan, and thank you!

Greenkeeper's Report April 2016

We've had a very busy winter on the golf course and our Greenkeepers have made excellent progress on the winter plan which we showed back in Autumn 2015.

Bunker Renovation

Over the course of the colder months Mark and his team have been working hard on the bunkers, and we're delighted to say we have exceeded the original plans that we made:

PlannedAchieved
Bunkers Renovated1923
Bunkers Topped with New Sand810
Bunkers Topped with Old Good Sand511

Overall we have managed work on 12 more bunkers than we had originally planned - a total of 44 bunkers - which has made a massive improvement to the course and hasn't gone unnoticed by members of the club. Mark and his team have received a lot of recognition over the past few months and it is fully deserved.

Lakes

One of the winter projects involved improving the presentation of the lakes on the course, as many had been overtaken by unwanted weeds and algae, so we put in a plan to physically remove a lot of these, with the idea of long-term continued maintenance to keep the lakes looking presentable, as originally intended.

When removing bulrushes which have naturally spread within the lakes we have been conscious that they encourage wildlife in our lakes and we did not want to prevent this, so with that in mind we decided to keep half of the bulrushes on the second, fourth and eleventh lakes on the non-playing sides. On the sixth lake we decided that all of the weeds should be removed from this as the whole lake involves play, so that was the only lake that we have cleaned completely.

Practice Putting Green

The new practice putting green has received a lot of use over the winter months and we're very happy with the way it has coped when you consider that it takes a few years for a green to fully establish. Although there are still some slight imperfections with the surface we are very pleased with how it is performing. We are planning on installing irrigation for the green in the next few months, so that it can be irrigated every night through the summertime.

Driving Range

As planned we have installed new mats, new nets and targets on the driving range (as well as 6,000 new range balls) and these have greatly improved the appearance and quality of the range.

You may notice that one of the three new practice nets (the red one) disappeared shortly after it was put out on the range, this is because it was badly damaged in high winds within a fortnight of installation, so it has been away for repair to both the structure and the canvas itself. This will shortly be back on the range and it will be as good as new!

Competition Tees on Holes 6 and 10

The new competition tees on holes 6 and 10 have faired well through the (very) wet months, and should kick on nicely in 2016. Can we please ask that people don't bring their trolleys onto these surfaces (or any tee for that matter!), as this affects the presentation and wear of the tees. Thank you.

Blue stakes being removed soon

New Twitter Account @BCG_Greenies

We have set up a new Twitter account for the Greenkeeping team at Burstwick. Follow us at @BCG_Greenies for updates on what's going on around the course, and what is planned for the future!

Blue Stakes on Holes 3-11

In the coming weeks we will be removing the blue stakes from holes 3 to 11, meaning that there will be no blue staked areas remaining at Burstwick! Many of these areas will still have individually staked trees (as with holes 1-2, 12-18) and players must take relief from these individually, rather than relief from the full copse. We are going to trim around the tree bottoms before we remove the stakes, so that players are able to find their golf balls (and we will be doing this on the other nine holes too, shortly after).

If you have any questions about this, such as how to take relief, please talk to a member of staff.

Course Furniture

As many people know, we bought 4 new benches with the money raised from the Spring Open Am-Am. We have not had the conditions to put these out yet, as we are going to concrete a base for each bench and secure down. Hopefully we will be getting these out on the course in the next couple of months.

Conclusion

Whilst we're very happy with the progress we have achieved over the winter our attention now turns to maintaining the course through the summer and we are sure that in 2016 you will see the course in the best state it has ever been!

Another Four Bunkers Completely Renovated!

We're pleased to say that after a break in the renovation project due to the wet weather, Head Green Keeper Mark and his team have cracked on again with bunker work, and another four bunkers have been completed!

We're delighted with the progress so far, and bunker renovation work will continue into early Spring, ready for the golfing season so watch this space for further improvements!

Greenkeeper's Report November 2015

In late summer we released a plan to members and visitors about our plans for improving the course and driving range over the winter, and we are pleased to report on the progress.

Mark and his team have been very busy over the last few months, and a mountain of progress has been made so far.

Bunker Renovation

Our winter maintenance plan for bunkers was to fully renovate 19 bunkers, top up 13 with sand, and also fill five bunkers in. We are two months into the work and so far the Greenkeepers have fully renovated 7 bunkers (37% complete) and topped up 7 bunkers (54% complete). If we continue at the current rate we may be able to add a couple more bunkers to the plan, but there are many external factors that will determine this, including the winter weather. Below are some progress pictures of bunkers already completed.

Putting Green

We opened the Practice Putting Green at the end of October, which was later than scheduled due to some areas not establishing as we'd predicted. Now the green is open we look forward to the turf growing stronger and thicker over the winter months, after getting used to constant use and maintenance.

We feel that at the moment the practice green is performing around 85-90% as good as the original greens due to it being in it's infancy, and the plan is to top-dress the surface in Spring to even out any discrepancy areas and by this time it will be identical to the other greens.

Disease on Greens

You may well have noticed that a couple of our greens have been suffering from disease lately. This is called Fusarium (also known as Fuzz) disease and it thrives in warm and moist (dewy) conditions, so many courses suffer in Autumn. As this autumn has been especially mild Fuzz has attacked a couple of our greens (luckily most of them are fine), with the 6th being the most badly hurt.

We have sprayed fungicide twice for Fusarium since September which will stifle it's progress, but you cannot reverse it's effects. Once we get into Spring we can reseed any affected areas and move in to Summer with perfect greens.

Driving Range

As promised we have made some exciting upgrades to the Driving Range to enhance your practice and make you a better golfer! Starting with 6,000 new range balls, four new mats, 3 new targets, and a re-arranged plan of old targets and flags with specific distances as shown on our range map to the left. You will find copies of this range map on the back of the driving range so that you always know how far each target is.

The range now looks great and is attracting more people to come and practice before their round or on an evening when the floodlights are on. We've also re-introduced loyalty cards with extra discounts for frequent users!

There are just a couple of repairs to some dividing nets (which are due soon) and then we the range maintenance and upgrades are complete.

 

Rough Areas

When we last cut the rough in October we decided to mow it a little lower after feedback from many of our members saying that it was a little too harsh and also slowing down play. We feel that now the trees are in play on the old field and the trees will be brought into play on the new field next Spring, that it is a sensible move to cut the rough an inch shorter to compensate. 

Feeback we have received on the shorter rough has so far been very positive, but if you think otherwise please talk to us!