Fencing along 9th
As we head towards the end of February we have experienced yet more wet weather (40mm Rain) which has led to the course being closed. Despite this work has continued as we gear up for spring. The area in front of the 9th tee has been stripped to allow heather to regenerate from seed. The addition of the fence is essential in protecting and stopping traffic (especially from trolleys) entering the area. This has worked well, is in-keeping with the surroundings and utilises the wood and chip bark left over from the tree work carried out this winter. Trees to the left of the 9th hole have been removed by Southern Electric as part of the safety management of the over head power lines, which in turn has opened up the view through to Heath lake. On a positive note all turfing is now complete around the 10th green surround, 11th fairway bunkers and the area to the right of 17th green. Members are asked to keep off the new turf where possible, and use the ball scoops provided. Sand will be added to the remaining bunkers when ground conditions allow. Elsewhere the greens have been sprayed with a folia soil feed/wetting agent which has helped to keep driving the water down through the profile. There have been several comments about the number of worm casts especially on the tees and fairways. This is a common complaint at this time of year with other Course managers reporting similar conditions. The recent wet weather has seen an increase in worm activity and compounded the problem. Following a change in European legislation there are currently no products that control worms effectively. We are trialling a natural product derived from garlic which irritates the worms forcing them further into the soil profile. We will monitor results to see how effective and successful this has been. Despite the milder weather of late pushing up temps (high of 14 degrees) the forecast for the coming week is for colder weather with the possibility of frosts. This will check soil temps and knock back growth however, with no rain on the horizon the course should start to dry out!. Despite an ambitious programme of work this winter we are further ahead than at this point last year and remain on schedule to have the course fully open by the middle of April.
Turfing 12th Tee
Work on the golf course has gathered pace in the last week helped largely by the improvement in the weather. The turfing of the 12th tee/11th approach was successful using the larger rolls with a total of 1200 metres having been completed. In addition work continues to the bunker bases with a further 29 tonnes of sand having been added and compacted. The drier conditions allowed us to take advantage and pencil tine the greens. This is vital in order to keep the profile open, aiding drainage and encouraging root growth. Last Wednesday we visited the Oxfordshire Golf Club as part of the BB&O BIGGA (greenkeeping) section event. It is interesting to note that the teeing area of one par 3 hole at the Oxfordshire is larger than the 9 smallest tees combined, here at East Berkshire. This illustrates the major problem we have and the importance of spreading wear coupled with the provision of winter tees. The course remains in good shape as we head towards spring. The greens are due to receive a folia soil feed/wetting agent application this week, with the other aim being to complete the last remaining turfing to the 10th green surround. As always the weather will play an important role in all of this!.
With an improvement in the weather over the last couple of weeks work to the final phase of bunkers continues to progress. Around half the bunkers now have sand in which will be left to settle before re checking levels and adding more sand as required before opening. Members are reminded that the bunkers have been white lined/roped off, marked as G.U.R. and will remain out of play. In addition heather turfs have been transplanted around selected bunker edges with a small copse of pine trees planted on the corner of the 14th hole, thus in-keeping with the over all design and character of the course. The aim this week is to complete another 700 squared metres of turf by Friday around the 11th approach/12 tee. The plan is to use the larger rolls of turf (24m in a single length) which have the advantage of allowing us to lay a much larger area in one go. With fewer joints the turf should knit together and establish the tee before spring. Elsewhere the greens have been brushed and cut along with the tees. The brushing stands up any straggly growth over winter and gives a clean tighter cut.
Sand added to the 8th Greenside
The golf club have invested in a defibrillator which is located in the clubhouse. All staff have received training in Emergency First Aid. The defibrillator is a fantastic life saving piece of equipment which anyone can use. In the event of an emergency is it reassuring to know your chance of survival is greatly increased. As we head towards the weekend the forecast looks set to remain chilly with the chance of a light shower. Spring is (hopefully) around the corner with the course in as good a shape as it has ever been for this time of year, fingers crossed the weather remains on our side and we complete the remaining work to the bunkers!