08 Apr 2022

Course maintenance update

A message from the Course Manager, David Wyborn:

We have been out talking with members these past few weeks and understand there are some concerns over the current course condition. I can appreciate why this as we are behind on where we would hope to be at this point in the year. Although essential to produce good surfaces each year, our early spring maintenance programme was challenging and we have not recovered as quickly as I would have hoped. The following update will give you a detailed plan of our programme in the next few months, and a glimpse into some of the longer-term objectives.

I hope that as air and ground temperatures rise and we start to see some good spring growth, which will coincide with the greens height coming down slowly by 0.5mm at a time until we reach our summer height of 3.25 mm. It is important that the height of the greens are taken down slowly as our greens have a mix of different grasses from Poa-annua/Bent/Fine leaf rye and at this time of year grasses start to grow at different rates which can cause an uneven ball roll. As temperatures rise and importantly night time temperatures rise, you will see a more even growth pattern. Until just last week we have had frosts most nights, which really does very little for the growth that we need given the quality of subsoil.

Adding to the list of greens that have already been drained, we also drained the 6th and 14th greens on the Longcross in the Autumn.  When we have prolonged wet spells the filtration rates were very poor which in turn as the base of the plant lays wet the plant then rots away and cover is lost. Both greens have had an extensive over-seed with regular feeding and as germination starts a significant difference will be evident by early May.

Using a fine leaf Rye grass we have over-seeded all of the walk on and off areas and some greens that have shown signs of wear over winter months. Moving forward the greens foliar and nutrition programme will be on going through summer months as well as a light dressing at regular intervals. Enough to make a subtle difference which will have a compound effect over time, but not enough that it will disrupt or impact your enjoyment. You would have seen from the Marc’s letter that the club are continuing to invest in course improvements. This will see us begin to scarify the fairways each May. This process removes dead organic matter from the base of the grass plant which in turn helps water move through the surface. After this process the contractors will be applying some 650 tonnes of sand. The sand will then be pushed into the profile with the aide of solid tine which helps the rain filtrate through and encourages roots to tiller and thicken the sword . This is then followed by an over-seed with a Rye grass mix, double passed at 25 grams per square meter. We will try to ensure it is completed will minimal disturbance and the long-term benefits of this annual task will be significant in time.

The surrounds and approaches will be treated with the same greens programme to improve the lie around the greens. Where greens have come in overtime and where possible, we will increase the size of greens and surrounds. Specifically we will be increasing 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12 and 14 on Longcross. On Bernard Hunt 1, 4, 9, 12 and 16. This has to be a gradual process so as not to put unreasonable strain on the leaf.

The programme of widening green approaches and fairways has already started, for instance the 10th fairway on Longcross now runs all the way to the green. The 14th Longcross approach has now been cut as fairway, which has now near doubled the size. This will be on going between the courses where possible with the intention of improving the look and playability of the hole.

Tee heights will be coming down to 10mm coupled with extra investment in enhanced feeding and nutrition with added growth regulators applied regularly which will help produce a thicker sword.

Tree works are coming to the end for this season. We still have some tidying to do which we will attend to. Tree work is very labour intensive but necessary, and with the various storms this has taken us longer than usual. The benefits for this essential work is to improve light, air-flow, playability and health of the remaining trees and for us to sustain grass cover. We recently root pruned down the sides of the tree lined fairways to stop the ingression of roots that take moisture away from the plant. This will produce better and more consistent lies making those tighter holes a little more forgiving.