Last week we had an issue with the greens where they turned almost completely discoloured due to a slight mis-timing of an application of wetting agent, which is designed to help the rootzone profile retain water but must be applied in a very specific time frame. The greens were stressed from the issue but it was a short-term effect which thankfully has now disappeared and they are looking very healthy again.
On Sunday morning Alan got a text message from one of our greenkeepers, Ryan, at 6.10am saying that he couldn’t get any machinery out of the workshop, as the main roller-shutter door would not raise up.
After getting there soon after to try and help diagnose the issue and it seemed that the motor was working, but the gears weren’t turning to roll the shutter up - they were just jumping - and the manual override chain had the same issue.
Up the ladders they went to have a quick look at the gearing but it appeared that the issue was internally in the motor so there was nothing we could do, which meant no greens cutting that day and no buggies.
First thing Monday morning we called East Yorkshire Shutters who were very helpful on the phone and they told us someone could be here within the hour, which they were. They quickly found out that the motor needed replacing as the internal gears had sheared, and told me that they could order the motor and install it Tuesday.
So here’s the stressful bit - there was NO way to get any machinery out of the shed until the new motor was fitted. So that means that our team had to begin mowing tees by hand, collect driving range balls by hand (a very long job when you have 20,000 of them), greens weren’t able to be cut for days, rough that was all due to be cut had to be left, etc. Disaster!!
On Tuesday afternoon EY Shutters came with the new motor ready to solve all our problems and permit our lads a sigh of relief as they could get out on the course - but then problem number two arose.
When they dismantled the old motor they found out that the spring inside the 4.2m long tube that rotated to lift the door up, had collapsed. This meant a new motor would be wrecked within weeks if they fitted it.
So the next step was to remove the 200kg+ tube from the door which was approximately 4 metres above the ground (not an easy task!) and take it back to their workshop to see if it could be repaired as a replacement would be approximately a week’s lead time. Things were going from bad to worse.
They took the tube away and an hour later I got a phone call from James at EY Shutters who told us that thankfully the spring could be repaired in the tube and then the full thing reinstalled with the motor - hurrah! So on Wednesday evening EY Shutters came back to the club with the new motor and repaired tube to get us fully back up and running. Phew!
This has not been a fun ordeal and we thank all of our golfers for their patience in the matter, the grass is growing at a very fast rate and we haven’t been able to mow any of it since last week, but we will work very hard to catch up as much as we can now that this is all over.
Many of our members may have been wondering what the money from the Spring Open Am-Am fundraiser went towards, as we haven’t made any announcements yet.
The reason is we have been passing some ideas around the Competition Committee with regards to how best spend the money and get the most benefits on the golf course. In the past we have spent the money on bins, benches, ball washers and bunker rakes, but we agreed at the last meeting that nothing in regards to course furniture really jumps out as needing renewing at the moment, and that priorities lie elsewhere.
With that in mind a suggestion was made about a new hole cutter for the greenkeepers, since the main issue we have on the golf course right now with the bunkers and greens having vastly improved is that we are having inconsistencies with the old holes when we are changing pin placements.
This week we had a demonstration of a top of the range piece of equipment called the iPro by BMS, which is used by the best courses on tour, but is at the same time very expensive at around £1,000.
That’s why the committee voted in favour of putting the £720 raised from the Spring Am-Am towards this new hole cutter, and that members will see the instant benefit which will keep the holes consistent for years to come.
It has been a very busy week at Burstwick with the growing season now in full swing. Since the wettest winter in the fourteen years we have been open meant that we couldn’t get out and put sand in newly renovated bunkers, our staff have been working hard the past fortnight putting out 60 tonnes of sand, with another 30 tonnes to arrive next week for topping up other bunkers on the course.
Normally this would have all been complete by March but we’re now playing catch-up and should be finished with the bunker renovation work by next week, ready to begin mowing the bunker banks and keeping them as tidy as possible during summer (the banks have been left to grow longer recently because of the time we've had to put into bunker renovations, which are usually completed by March!)
Also this week we have begun work on manually overseeding greens. This means any small areas that have been affected by disease over the winter, old pitchmarks, and other worn areas are spiked, seeded and rootzoned to ensure new growth will come through.
While this may look a little unsightly to some (small, sandy patches on the greens), it doesn’t affect the roll of the ball because it is so flat and within a couple of weeks the grass will have grown through and produce a great surface.
Rough, Irrigation Repairs, Tees
Other work we have completed this week had included: cutting the rough down, as it has been growing like it’s going out of fashion these past few weeks; we have also been continuing work on irrigation repairs, I have replaced two decoders to get the 12th green back online and also the third tee, there are a couple of repairs still to do and we are waiting on parts for these.
The onslaught against clover and other weeds begins in the next fortnight! We are taking delivery of 20 hectares worth of weed killer on within the next few days, and this will be used to spray fairways, rough, tees and basically anything that has clover on it!
To give you an idea of how much 20 hectares worth will cover, the most we have ever sprayed in one year in the past is 12 hectares worth, so we are determined in 2018 to break it's back!
We have 12,000 new range balls arriving at the end of June for the range, this is double the amount of balls that we normally renew each year. We are also looking at the possibility of installing three or four new TrueStrike mats, which are the best in the business, giving players a unique feel for every shot, just like being on a fairway!
For those who use the range often this should hopefully make a very positive difference to their practice regime.
All in all the course is coming on really nicely and the greens especially are running much better now that they have recovered from the coring early season. We're confident that with a more aggressive aeration and overseeding policy for the greens they will continue to improve year on year, starting with 2018. We should see the least of clover and other weeds around the course once it is sprayed in the next fortnight, so the fairways and rough should look much neater and also the speed of play will improve due to fewer lost balls.
Rain, rain, rain, and.... more..... rain.
It goes without saying that we have had one of the wettest autumn-winter periods since we opened in 2004. Just to put it in perspective, our friend Martin Hayward (Head Greenkeeper at Hessle Golf Club) put an interesting tweet out the other day that said we'd had nearly double the amount of rain between June-December than the previous two years (887mm vs less than 500mm in 2015/2016).
It really is unprecedented for us to have been closed as much as we have been this winter, the only time I can remember that came close to this was 2010 when we had six weeks of snow on the ground.
Needless to say we've been hard at work doing whatever we can to maintain the golf course and get ready for the summer season, but it hasn't been easy as there have been many days when we couldn't take machinery onto the course.
One of the major aspects of maintenance on the golf course we have been doing is maintaining the underground drainage by checking manholes, clearing throughways and exit points. This enables the excess water from all the course get away as quick as possible.
Over the last few months our greenkeepers have been hard at work prepping bunkers ready for new sand coming in the next few weeks. As with last year, we are bringing in 90 tonnes of bunker sand which will help us renovate around 13-15 large bunkers and top-up another 10.
Each year when we do bunker renovation we target the worst bunkers on the golf course, and begin digging the old sand out. From there we pull out the existing drainage and install new pipe to ensure good water flow, back fill the drainage channel with gravel and cover with a permeable membrane.
Once we have all the bunker ready for sanding we’ll bring in the first load and begin distributing among the bunkers at a depth of around four inches, then we compact to ‘bed in’ the sand. Over the first few weeks of use the sand will settle and you’ll have a great playing surface for bunker shots!
It's been a couple of years since we've had chance to do some good tree maintenance, so recently on wet days we've been beavering away (excuse the pun), pruning trees around the course.
The aim is to remove the bottom portion of branches from the tree for a few reasons: 1) the golfers can navigate through the trees more easily, and 2) less energy is used by the tree in growing the bottom branches, so that energy can be used to grow taller and stronger.
As many of you will have seen, there is a poster on the notice board about worm cast suppressant chemical being banned from the market, and that it is illegal for golf courses to use.
Not every golf course in the area used this chemical but we used it religiously every November, to keep the worm casts down to a minimum on fairways, tees and greens through the winter months. The knock on affect of this was that fairways would be less muddy and could be mown more frequently and at a lower height. Due to the ban we weren't able to spray the chemical this winter, and subsequently weren't able to mow as much. This has definitely had an effect on the overall presentation of the course but it is a problem every golf course faces and we think you'll agree that these playing surfaces (despite being very wet) have been in more than acceptable condition.
As discussed in the previous greenkeeper's report, we are on a mission in 2018 to demolish the clover issues that we experienced last year. We will more than double the budget for herbicides this year in determination to get rid of nearly all the clover. Members will most definitely see a big improvement in this regard in 2018.
Course Furniture Am-Am
At the latest committee meeting we have discussed what to spend money on when we receive a donation from the Spring Am-Am in March. Last year we bought five bins to place around the course, the year before we bought four new benches. We discussed having more bins, new plastic 150 marker posts, material for the bridge to make it less slippy, and also new range mats (including looking at the Truestrike mat).
If you have any ideas on what you'd like to see the money spent on, please email Alan and let him know.
Thanks for reading, here's looking forward to the Spring arriving soon and light nights letting us play as much golf as possible!
Clover, Clover, Clover
It's been a strange season for us with regards to weeds. Each year we buy a bulk of herbicide (weed killer) to tackle the clover, lesser trefoil and other weeds which this course is prone to, and usually for the most part it's pretty successful. We always spray around mid-May when the weeds begin to flourish and by June they're mostly gone.
In the past we've allocated enough budget to do about 50% of the rough areas and a few fairways. 2017 was no different, in fact we purchased another 10% of spray to try and gradually expand the spraying.
Unfortunately, the weather beat us this year.
We sprayed as usual in mid May, but to our dismay, by mid-June there was over twice as much clover and lesser trefoil coverage than we have ever had after spraying. After closer inspection, a huge portion of this was on areas that had been sprayed with herbicide, which should have been clear of weeds! After some more investigations it was discovered that because of the slow start to the growing season (due to the cold, dry weather - also the reason the greens took longer to recover) there was a lot of weeds that weren't growing so the herbicide didn't achieve the full effect. This basically meant that the exercise was a very costly waste which is extremely frustrating for us.
Clover is a golfer's worst nightmare! So we're putting this right in 2018!
We're preparing our 2018 maintenance budgets and have taken the decision to increase investment quite significantly into materials; including increasing our weed killer budget by more than double. We've resided to the fact that we're always going to have to battle with clover and lesser trefoil due to the type of land the course is built on, so we need to bring much more water to the fire to get on top of it!
Right now as we stand, we would say that the greens aren't where we want them to be. With USGA greens we've always prided ourselves on firm, well drained greens that provide a great growing surface for fine grasses. While this is still true for some part, we need to increase the work that we're doing on them to get them back to where we want them to be.
Firstly, let's talk about disease. Green number six has been notorious over the past couple of years for suffering from big outbreaks of Fusarium Patch - the Greenkeeper's biggest enemy. Fuzz (as it's commonly called) thrives on moist, warm conditions which is why it is always prevalent in Autumn.
Why does the 6th green suffer the most?
We've recently had a company in to take some soil samples to find out if there is a difference in the soil make-up, as this could be one reason it suffers more than other greens. An imbalance in nutrients can lead to the turf becoming stressed which increases the likelihood of a disease outbreak.
Secondly, we are starting to suffer with thatch problems on some of the greens which adds to the problem of threatening disease. After consultation with various head greenkeepers at other courses, and some meeting with industry experts we have made a plan to increase the aeration and topdressing in 2018 to bring the thatch level down. With excess thatch, the surface stays moist for longer, and the roots tend to shorten meaning the grass becomes more susceptible to stress. By taking out cores and adding more sand into the surface, the greens will drain better (like they did 2-3 years ago) and also promote healthy, long root growth.
In conclusion, we will be coring the greens twice (spring and autumn) in 2018, and topdressing with sand both times. We have taken the decision to hire in a top dressing machine for each of these rather than applying manually to achieve a better, more consistent coverage and also take less times before each green is back in play.
Extra spiking will also take place on the 6th green this winter to help the surface remain dry, as well as applying a chemical penetrant, designed to pull the moisture away from the surface.
The 7th green had an issue recently which was caused by the spiking machine pulling up an area of turf on the left side which was suffering particularly from Dry patch. Unfortunately this was a catastrophic error that we did not foresee happening, and it is with deep regret that this occurred. We have been as quick as possible to repair the area, but it will take time to establish. We have put a small netting around the area to attempt to keep wildlife away and also keep golfers from walking on it. If you could please respect this area we would very much appreciate it.
We have had some comments about the tidiness of bunker edges this year, and that they haven't been kept to the same standard as 2016. Whilst we have not spent as much time on the bunker edges, we still believe the quality of the sand and sand levels have improved on last year, but definitely agree that presentation is important and 2018 needs to see this become more of a priority.
This winter we will continue to press on with bunker work, and have provisioned a budget to bring in another 90 tonnes of bunker sand for renovation. We will be going around the course and prioritising the worst bunkers to do the work on, and aim to renovate 12-15 bunkers, most of these being large ones.
We have had a company come in to quote for a full bunker liner installation, the same as what is used on courses such as The Celtic Manor. This would cost us around £1,500 per bunker on average, and for the time being we feel that this kind of money would be better spent on other parts of the course (weed killer, extra rootzone for coring, etc), however it is good to know for future reference how much it would cost for a complete bunker liner system.
Humps on 12
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the bunkers that were filled in last year on hole 12, which we'd like to clear a few things up about. We first came up with the idea back in early 2016, to get rid of the bunkers and put something in their place that would still be a similar hazard but require low maintenance. One option was to fill them in and plant Gorse, but some thought that would be too punishing; another was to plant heather as a similar idea, and; the last thought was to just grow the grass a little longer across there so that people can still find their ball but the rough would be enough to consider another option to avoid.
When we first filled them in last summer year we were ready to prepare to seed but received a lot of negative feedback that we hadn't put enough material there and that they were too flat. We then took the decision to put more than double the material on there to raise them higher, which meant we had to wait another full winter before it was dry enough to take these huge loads of soil across (otherwise the machinery would have torn the surrounding area up). A total of 350 tonnes of earth has been put into this area.
We have now finished the mounds and have seeded the areas. Once they are established in Spring we will look at whether to plant heather or to let the grass grow a little longer, and will canvass opinions of golfers on this. The main thing is we get these back in play as soon as possible, because they have been out of play way too long already.
The problems with dead patches of turf on the edge of the putting green has been causing us a great deal of frustration this year. The black patches you see on the green are areas of completely dead grass, which will never grow back. It needs to be removed. Until now, our only option has been to seed areas like this, but it's difficult to get the seed to establish without closing the full putting green.
We have now managed to find a company that supplies fine turf of the exact same specification as our greens, with an 80:20 mix of Fescue and Bent grass. We are going to make arrangements for buying some of this turf and replace the dead areas on the green so that we can look towards having a fully healthy and completely open putting green as soon as possible.
We have another batch of 6,000 driving range balls due to land in the next few days, and we hope to have these in play within a week. Many of the older balls which are looking very tired will be pulled out and replaced by the new balls.
We are also looking at ways to enhance the outfield of the range, as the three main targets have not survived the prevailing wind very well. We are looking at enhancing these existing targets with some new PVC on the frames and also adding a couple more, shorter range targets in the next couple of months.
This Greenkeeper's Report seems a little doom and gloom compared to past reports, but we are keen to stress one thing. After the 2017 season we recognise many areas where we can improve going forward, and we are determined to do so. With a bigger budget and better planning we can solve the few issues that we surround the course: clover, disease on greens, bunker improvement, and the putting green issues.
We are confident that we have a strong plan going forward and although nothing in the plan is an 'overnight remedy' we are passionate that we can significantly improve the course in 2018.
Our green keepers have been moving a few trees on the course over the past couple of days. Where from? Well a few of our bigger copses have so many trees in that we can go to the back and remove a few and relocate elsewhere to help them flourish, while not changing the visual effect of the copse they came from.
As we are moving the trees manually we are limited with the size of tree that we can use, which in turn limits the amount we have to move, but we'll keep doing small amounts over time and see where it takes us!
We've started by putting a few trees down the side of hole 18 to try and enhance the look of the hole from the tee, we think they already make a difference and are looking forward to see how they progress in the next 5 or 10 years!
On Saturday we hosted 46 teams in the Joe Coyle Fundraising Am-Am, the biggest event we have ever held at Burstwick!
In preparation for the day our greenkeepers were working hard getting every inch of the course mown in order for it to look it’s best come Joe’s day. All was going very well until Friday morning, when we had a major breakdown on our greens mower. As we rang around suppliers we soon realised the part we needed was not available anywhere in the UK, so there was no chance of receiving it in time for Joe’s Am-Am, and the greens being cut for the event was absolutely imperative.
This meant that head greenkeeper Mark had to set out and hand-mow all the greens, which takes about 50 minutes per green! Because it was such a long job, Mark spent until 7.30pm on Friday night mowing the first 13 greens, and then was back in at 5am Saturday to finish the other five and practice green.
The result was superbly vividly striped greens on a course that was looking it’s best! This meant we received a flood of Facebook comments, Twitter mentions and even emails saying how great the course looked for the Am-Am. Credit to Mark and his team for their hard work!
Below are some of the fantastic comments we received:
Cracking day @burstwickgolf for @JoeCoyleGolf am-am. Course is in superb condition @BCG_Greenies
- Ashley Heidstra (Twitter)
@BCG_Greenies Course was in fantastic shape today. A quick turnaround after being shut last saturday. All credit to the greenies
- Pete Etherington (Twitter)
Great day down at @burstwickgolf for @JoeCoyleGolf golf day today. Course was immaculate full credit to @BCG_Greenies
- Darren Marks (Twitter)
Fantastic day, course looked and played great, lets hope we all did Joe proud!
- Martin Anthony (Facebook)
To Mark and the greenkeepers, impressed to say the least at the way the course was presented today for the Joe Coyle fundraising AM AM. The mowed lines on the fairways and the greens added so much the aesthetics throughout. Stand back and take a pat on the back. I'm sure this will not be the only praise you get today.
- Dave Harris (Email)
A cracking Open Am-Am; and 46 teams is a huge achievement! The green keepers all need a pat on the back! They were far and away the best greens locally that I have played this year!
- Shane Beardsley (Facebook)
Great day today for @JoeCoyleGolf Greens were immaculate by @burstwickgolf
- Lewis Fowler (Twitter)