18th Greenside Bunkers
As we approach the end of July and with the years ‘major’ championships completed green speed and condition remain good, running at 9.8ft last Friday. Our focus now turns to the Charity event this weekend. With this is mind and taking advantage of the forecast the greens have been top dressed with a further ‘dusting’ of sand today (Monday). This heavier dusting will ensure surfaces remain smooth and consistent in the coming weeks before Course Maintenance. The greens have also been pencil tinned to a depth of 4 inches last week which is essential to relieve compaction from the increased mowing and rolling over the last month, as well as promoting root growth and aiding drainage. Elsewhere it has been a case of preparing and presenting the course to a high standard each day. The main ditch running across the 7th, 13th, 14th and 15th has been left to grow longer. This follows advice from the National Trust and ties in with the risk assessment carried out along the ditch line. Leaving the edges/margins longer promotes an important habitat for wildlife while also deterring golfers from attempting to climb down the steep bank and look for lost golf balls, thus speeding up play. The ditch will be cut down in late September as part of the management of longer areas of rough. Following the recent rains and warm temps we have seen a surge in weed growth. An important job this week will be to spot spray weeds with a herbicide. The timing of application is crucial as the chemical requires a 4 hour drying time in order to be effective.
- 9th Green Complex
The forecast looks set to remain warm and dry with little rain expected. This will allow us to dry the greens out in the run up to the weekend, which should see speeds pick up nicely. Looking at our records we have received 96% of rain compared to last year however E.T. rates (evapotranspiration) have been considerably higher. As a result of this fairways and rough dry out quicker following warmer temps despite some rainfall. This has placed an even greater stress on the sward and once again challenged the management of the course. In effect we still have a net 4 inch loss of moisture in the ground.
Prep work for the Stag
The golf course performed well and provided a good test of golf for our biggest tournament of the year; The Stag. Conditions were good with surfaces providing a descent challenge, with many positive comments received about the course and bunker work. With the golf course closed on Tuesday afternoon this allowed the greenstaff to complete the final preparations and set the golf course up for Wednesday: mowing greens, tees, fairways, setting pin positions and adding the final details to bunkers. It was disappointing that players teed off from the backs of the tees during the courtesy rounds despite the tee markers being forward. It is possible that we may need to look at placing wire/netting to prevent damage in the future. Greens received a light folia feed the week before the Stag in order to maintain a healthy sward as we increased levels of stress – drying the greens out and increasing the frequency of mowing/rolling. Heights of cut were lowered by 0.25mm bringing the overall height down to 2.75mm for the Stag, which saw speeds hit 11.2ft on Wednesday morning after double cutting and rolling – despite 4 mm of rain on Tuesday evening. It is interesting to note that green speeds on Monday morning following a single cut (without rolling) were around 10ft, rising to 10.7ft on Tuesday morning (following a single cut and roll) and hit 11f.3t Tuesday afternoon with a further cut (without rolling). Possibly the biggest factor in relation to speed was the weather (as was seen at the U.S. Open). Had it not rained then we would have expected green speeds to be higher still. Most importantly surfaces remained smooth and consistent, which highlights the importance of the work carried out over the season to date enhanced by top-dressing every couple of weeks.
Following a hectic and successful week on the golf course the pressure continues as our focus now turns to the Ladies Invitational, Seniors Open and Club Championships this week. The greens have been ‘pushed’ forward and the challenge will be to maintain consistency as we approach the Club Championships this coming weekend. The greens have been sarel rolled this morning (Monday) which punches a small hole around 1 inch deep to help keep the surface open as we look to step up levels of rolling and mowing once more.
East Berkshire has been selected to host the County Championships finals in August 2012. This will be another fantastic opportunity to show case the course and provide a great test of golf. The forecast looks set to remain warm and dry as we head into the weekend which will aid preparations for the Club Championship. As temps increase areas of the golf course are starting to dry out once more. Below is an interesting link which deals with summer playing conditions. This link can also be found via the R&A website.