The Course

Course Report - November 2023

We are falling into autumn.
In a summer dominated by the poor weather the course has stood up well. Storm Babet was another challenge and you can see some photos below. There has however been a minimal need to close the course which is testament to the drainage and aeration work done, both now, and in previous years and also the hard work of the greens staff who continue to make the most of every opportunity to catch up on the backlogs and issues caused by the rain. We know there is still lots to do but hopefully you, the members, are starting to see some of the progress being made.

Winter policy
We are going into the winter period with ropes out to direct traffic. This year,we have also differentiated between single seater and double seater ride-on buggies as studies have shown clear differences between the two regarding damage and usage. We are developing a “safe route” which when complete should allow the limited use of buggies in most conditions for those with a medical need. We will use mats to protect par 3 tees and we are establishing a short course (you may have seen the yellow marker sticks). We will also use reduced holes and short tees where we feel that areas are suffering. Thanks in advance for those who can carry, and everyone else for making sensible decisions when moving around the course. Every little effort helps.

Aeration and disease protection will be our focus over the winter months. We have applied fertiliser and chemicals to give the grass resilience to fight against pests and diseases; we’ve started to raise the height of cut and we have aerated the greens with deep tines to keep surface water to a minimum and promote root growth. The new putting green is ready for its debut in March and is now fully integrated with the full greens program.

The Tees
We look forward to returning to hand cutting tees for better presentation but as you are probably aware with lots of projects happening all at once due to the weather delays ,the team has been spread thin. We will be heavy devoting them over the next few weeks and we will start to manage the tees forward and protect the main surfaces until next season. On the par 3 tees you will notice the club has invested in some new mats to help preserve these highly worn surfaces and these will be in operation from 1st November. The other addition will be a brand new (BLUE) short course which will give members a different option to the fuller length course. We hope to expand its
use over the next few years and eventually get the short course rated if it proves to be a success. Please let us know what you think.

We hope to be lining a few more bunkers over the winter. This work is likely to be undertaken after Christmas. We aim to target 5 bunkers but again if opportunity presents itself, we will do more as we know this is of great importance for the course to move forward.

Fairways and semi rough
We will continue to cut as weather allows and we will be clearing leaves as often as we can. We are also employing cultural practices to reduce worm casting but as there are no effective legal controls this continues to be a battle but we will aim to further improve these areas.

Often the removal of trees is an emotive subject. It is clear on this course that we are, however, playing catch up on tree removal and pruning. A quick sum to consider is “…trees on average grow at 3% per year and if we have 10,000 trees (we have more) then we would have to remove 300 trees worth of woody material per year to maintain the same amount of woodland currently on the course.” We will remove trees that gives best advantage to our playing surface, playing line, improve airflow, and damage drainage. The priority is the removal of poplars, conifers and willows as these affect all these issues the most. Thinning of copses and crown lifting will be on going through the
winter months. We will be planting and moving some trees to defend playing lines and define areas, but placement and species will be carefully considered.

The 12th Fairway has been really tested and the new koro secondary drainage has been performing well. We will be working through an extensive list of primary drainage identified over many years, alongside rodding and renovating of existing drains. These tasks may for force hole closures for safety reasons so please bear with us.

Other Progress
The range building construction, the new warm up nets, the new 10th tee and the new short game area (SGA) are all entering the final stages of construction. We hope to put these to bed by the end of November.
The range building is on to painting and final fixes.
The SGA has had irrigation installed, all areas shaped, fertilised and seeded. The bunkers will be completed early next year once the banks are established.
The 10th tee has had around 500 tons of imported material to double the with and level the surface from a 1.4m fall to less than 0.3m.(see some photos below) The turf for the top is due in mid-November and the sides will be hydroseeded. We hope to create a wildflower area on the steep slopes which will add to the view from the tee and club house. Irrigation will be installed over winter and crown lifting of the trees will give a vista through from the 9th tee. This project could not have happened if not for the other projects currently in progress as the volume of material needed was so great.
Repairs to the irrigation system to enable full automation has been completed. These work areas will be filled in over winter.

We apologise in advance for any inconvenience as we all work to better the course each season. To stand still in nature and golf course management is to go backwards. We ask that everybody does their bit to help the course through winter - follow ropes, use paths, use mats, repair minor damage and travel sensibly and safely around the course.
Thanks for working with us and we hope you enjoy your course.

Richie Stephens – Course Manager

Storm Babet - October 2023