Thursday, 22 August 2013

White-letter Hairstreak

A White-letter Hairstreak was seen on the 7th tee on Tuesday.  This butterfly is uncommon nowadays because the caterpillars feed exclusively on elm trees which were decimated in the 1970s. 

White-letter Hairstreak

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Will Law

Will Law is leaving us at the end of this month to start a new job as Deputy Head Groundsman at Ipswich Town Football Club.  Will has made a great contribution to the greenkeeping team over the last two and a half years and we'll miss him.  The move to a supervisory role is an excellent career development and we wish him all the best in his new job and for the rest of his career.

Monday, 12 August 2013


We've made an early start on the over-seeding in the hope that with good growth we'll be able to over-seed again before the end of the season.  The slit seeder used in the spring was too aggressive for our greens, with the lines still visible in some places, so we're trying a different method this time.  After hollow coring, top dressing and seed is spread on the greens and the sand and seed is brushed into the holes.  The hollow tine holes act as little pots for the seed to germinate in.

Jerry hollow coreing and Will blowing the cores into heaps for collection

Danny top dressing

Monday, 5 August 2013

Bunker work

We lost a lot of sand from the bunkers during the very dry and windy spell in July so we're topping up at present.  When adding sand to the bunkers we aim for a relatively thin layer a few centimetres deep so that it firms up quickly and reduces the number of plugged lies.

Andrew topping up sand
The thunder storm last Friday washed out the sand from many of the bunker faces and edges.  Sorting out 101 bunkers that look like the one pictured below is quite a daunting task.

Friday, 2 August 2013


The river course irrigation system was upgraded last Winter and some new areas had sprinklers installed on the main course.  On the river course irrigation was installed on some of the approaches and on the main course we are now able to irrigate some green surrounds and walkways.

For once we have had an early return on our investment as the photographs below illustrate.  On the 8th fairway on the river course there is a stark contrast between the irrigated and  non-irrigated areas and on the paths to and from the 5th tee the contrast is even greater. 

River course 8th fairway and approach

Path from 4th green to 5th tee (irrigated)
Path from 5th tee to fairway (not irrigated)

Greens update

Members will have noticed the small pock marks/bare areas present in the greens.  These are due to the die back of the grass species Poa annua during the recent dry spell.  We dried the greens out deliberately to achieve this but the exceptionally hot weather resulted in an abrupt loss of Poa plants, whilst we would have preferred a more gradual die back.  In the long term the loss of Poa is, however, essential for maintaining our green quality.

We aim to keep the percentage of Poa annua in the greens as low as possible as it is the fine Fescue and Bent grasses that give us the highest quality and most consistent putting surfaces.  Our entire maintenance programme is formed around encouraging the finer grasses and discouraging Poa annua.  Everything from height of cut and fertiliser programme to aeration has an impact but moisture levels in the soil strongly influence the ability of Poa annua to get established and survive in our greens. 
The summer of 2012 was very wet so we had no opportunities to undertake our usual annual exercise of drying out the greens and putting the Poa annua under stress.  Consequently we came into 2013 with a higher than normal percentage of Poa in the greens and the very cold weather from March to May this year gave the Poa a further opportunity to spread with little competition from the slower growing fescue.  With more Poa present the evidence of the die back that we have achieved is therefore much more visible this year.
The importance of keeping a low percentage of Poa in the greens can’t be overemphasised.  As long as we have just a few per cent Poa, we can be quite aggressive in the measures we take to keep it from increasing.  With an increased percentage it is more difficult to remove as the impact on greens quality is greater as we are currently experiencing.  Keeping Fescue dominated greens with a very low percentage of Poa is fundamental to maintaining high quality putting surfaces all year round.

We will promote more grass growth than usual over the next couple of weeks and top dress again to fill in the gaps as quickly as possible. 
Our usual annual over seeding of greens is programmed for the week starting Monday 21st August.  We will hollow core followed by top dressing and over seeding.  The seed we are using is pure Fescue and the modern cultivars have far superior performance to the old varieties present in our greens. 

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Weather summary for July

July was very dry with only 11.8mm of rainfall, about a quarter of the 46.9mm average for this month.  The average temperature was 17.7 degrees with a high of 27.5 on the 24th and a low of 11.2 on the 15th.