Spring Greens maintenance has started this week

It is that time of year again when we begin our greens maintenance for the spring. We often get asked what the reason behind this annual maintenance is and why it is so important, so here I’m going to explain a little more.

To account for fine turf that remains healthy throughout the year it is all about balance. Balancing nutrients, moisture, organic matter, oxygen and of course wear and tear. The latter, we can’t control too much of as golf courses are designed to be open all year round, but a simple changing of the hole position can spread the wear nicely.

With nutrients, these can be balanced by a well-planned fertilising schedule which is suited to the types of turf species on the course, and the growing conditions on each surface.

Arguably, the most important part of healthy turf is the oxygen and moisture levels, which is where the greens maintenance comes in as a very important part of our Greenkeepers’ calendar.

For a turfgrass to be strong and healthy, it needs the best growing conditions, which include:

  • A free-draining surface to prevent disease,  weed and moss growth;
  • Sufficient moisture levels underneath the surface for continued growth;
  • Enough oxygen within the root system to allow good cellular respiration.

This in a nutshell is the reason you will see golf courses punch thousands of holes in a golf green in the spring and autumn. To maintain good moisture and oxygen levels, while providing a free draining surface, we need to aerate the greens.

In our case at Burstwick, from this season onwards we are increasing the aeration programme as we have a little too much thatch for perfect growing conditions. The great news is that our USGA greens have the best construction which means that past the thatch level the growing system is basically perfect, so all we have to do is take care of the top three inches or so.

This spring we are hollow-coring our greens (basically taking small tubes of thatch out of the surface) with 10mm diameter hollow tines, and refilling these holes with pure sand, and we will be doing exactly the same in autumn too. This will take about 3-4 weeks for the surface to recover and be back to the smooth greens that Burstwick is known for. 

By introducing extra sand to the surface we are helping the top drainage, and allowing oxygen to enter the root system. This allows the roots to grow deeper into the USGA rootzone later, promoting a strong and healthy plant. On a good green the roots can be over five inches deep, despite the actual leaf of the grass being less than a centimetre!

So there you have it. The reason golf courses hollow core (or slice, spike, sand inject, etc) their greens is to improve the growing conditions for the root to create a better surface! If you would like to know a bit more come and see me in the clubhouse and I will gladly give you a more in depth explanation!

Greenkeeper's Report - The wettest winter we can remember

Rain, rain, rain, and.... more..... rain.

Waterlogged fairway

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.

Bunker renovation on hole 12

Bunkers

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!

Trees

Tree pruning

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.

Fairways

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.

Killing clover in 2018

Mission Clover-Kill

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!

Well done to Laura Key on her excellent paint work of the Halfway House!

It's no secret that our Halfway house has been looking very tired recently. Our club proprietor had to do some much needed maintenance on the doors in Spring due to being battered from the weather, which meant we could re-open the main part of the unit.

This week Laura has continued the maintenance of the halfway house by completely gutting the toilets and repainting them, and giving the outside of the house three coats of paint. The finished article looks a great deal better than before, well done team!

Bunker Renovation Work has Started

Bunker renovation has started at Burstwick Country Golf, and already great progress is being made with the first two bunkers fully renovated and four others topped up with sand. 

A fortnight ago we stated our plan for Bunker Renovation for the next six months including brand new drainage and sand to be installed many of the bunkers, and yesterday and today this has started.

The lads have been working hard and with the good weather forecast hope to continue this over the next few weeks before the colder, wetter weather begins to arrive.