Course at its Best in Years Say the Members

After all the trials and tribulations of the roller shutter door needing medical attention last week and our greenkeepers not being able to get out any of the machinery for four days, I’m happy to say that the team worked tirelessly from Thursday onwards to get the place back in shape for the weekend.

We received many messages on the weekend about the condition of the course and that people couldn’t tell we had had such problems, which is a testament to the green staff here - especially when we have a small team compared to most other courses.

The only thing that didn’t get cut last week was the rough, and to be quite honest it made the course look fantastic.

Our rough is mainly fescue grass which at this time of year looks absolutely stunning with the long, whispy tops surrounding each fairway. We have had many of the better players asking us to keep the rough that way all year round but after an online survey of the members it was obvious that most of the players (especially anyone above about a 10-12 handicap) thought it was beautiful but just too difficult, and slowed play down due to looking for balls too often.

It sparked a lot of conversation though, and has given us reason to think about where we take the style of the golf course in the future.

Clover killing and bunker work on the course

The last few weeks we have been concentrating on getting the greens and tees in great shape for the summer, with various over seeding work, wetting agent spraying, application of slow release fertiliser and repairs to irrigation. This has made massive inroads to the way the course is playing, particularly on the greens which are looking very healthy and rolling extremely well. Tees are now growing aggressively and looking very lush so we will begin mowing twice a week to keep them looking tidy.

Now our attention turns to finishing the bunker renovations and also topping up a large number of bunkers that need more sand in, at the same time we are spraying a great deal of weedkiller to combat the influx of clover and lesser trefoil on the course.

We often get asked why we suffer so badly with clover in particular, and a big part of the reason is that we’re on ex-farm land, which has had decades of work which has taken out much of the natural nutrients from the soil, meaning that it is very susceptible to weeds spreading quickly.

White Clover

To get an effective kill on the weeds they need to be in full growth, so that means leaving them for a week or two before spraying, which is what we have had to do, leading to the rough areas in particular looking scruffier than normal for a short time.

We have more than doubled our herbicide budget this year to do our upmost to rectify the issue. In a couple of weeks the weeds will have wilted and the course will be looking much healthier, so we can keep cutting the rough at a shorter height again, it’s unfortunately a process that we’ve had to be patient with in 2018.

Greenkeepers Report May 2018

Bunkers

Bunker renovations

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!)

Greens

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.

Clover

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!

Range Balls

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.

Conclusion

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.

Happy golfing!

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!