Friday, 19 December 2014

River course construction work update

Construction work on the new 3rd green and 4th tee on the river course is now finished.  The turf on the green and tee is now well established and the recently laid fairway turf is beginning to root and will be able to withstand further flooding within the next couple of weeks.  Once all of the turf is well rooted we can be confident that in the event of future tidal surge flooding the area will drain quickly and the salt resistant fescue turf will recover.  All of the costs associated with this project have been covered by our insurance.

The timing of the opening of the new areas for play is very dependent on the weather over the winter and spring but it's unlikely to be before the end of May.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

River course work

We've been getting on with a few tasks on the river course this week.  The last of the scots pines between the 3rd and 4th holes that were killed by salt water flooding have been felled.  Work is in progress on slightly raising, extending and strengthening the bund on our boundary left of the 6th green.  It should now protect this area from all but the very highest surge tides.  Work has also started on building a couple of low mounds between the 8th and 9th holes.  The main purpose of these is to encourage players on the 8th to aim slightly left so that fewer balls are hit towards the 9th carry.

Danny felling the last couple of pines

Working on the bund left of the 6th

Starting work on the mounds

Arthur and Shane laying turf on one of the mounds right of the 8th

Mishap on the marsh

The large digger that has been working on Hazelwood marsh in recent weeks fell into a dyke yesterday and it's still there today.  No one was hurt but it looks like recovering it will be a difficult job and repairing it will be an expensive one.

And then the tide came in

Thursday, 4 December 2014

River course construction work

The turfing of the new 3rd fairway and approach was completed today.  We've been here before but hopefully this time it will have time to get established before the next storm surge!  Once the roots have got a grip the fescue turf we've put down should survive occasional saltwater flooding.  The areas further from the playing line that have not been turfed have been seeded.

Shane laying turf this afternoon

Tree planting

We've planted some pines right of the 3rd hole on the river course to replace those lost to the storm surge.  The new trees have been planted on higher ground above the level of the storm surge.  Some more pines were planted left of the 14th hole on the main course to screen golf lane and some of the buildings beyond.  Behind the 13th green hawthorn hedging has been planted close to the boundary to screen Leiston road.  Some of the gorse transplanted to this area last winter is already well established.

Shane and Danny planting pines

Monday, 1 December 2014

Weather summary for November

 After a warmer than average October the temperature in November was close to record breaking with an average of 10.2°.  The warmest November on our records was 2011 with 10.7°.  The lowest temperature was 1.8° on the 24th and the highest 17.6° on the 1st.  The wet theme to this autumn continued with the wettest November we've recorded.  We had 107mm of rain; more than double the 50mm average for the month, 25mm of the total fell in one day on the 5th.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Pine tree felling

Work has started on felling the row of Scots pine trees right of the fourth hole on the river course.  These have all been killed by the storm surge flooding with salt water.  The Monterey pines are faring a little better and we hope that at least some of these will survive.  We intend to plant a few replacement pines on higher ground in the triangle of rough between the 3rd and 5th holes.

Neil. Danny and Shane clearing the debris

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

River course update

The situation on the river course following the tidal surge and flooding three weeks ago is much improved.  The 3rd green and 4th tee are in very good order and due to the very mild weather we have already cut them twice.  The fairway turf that was laid the day before the flood has fared less well but we've saved a good proportion and we're confident that this will recover given time.  The heavy rain over the last couple of weeks has kept the area very wet (not helped by the layer of silt brought in by the flood) but the rain will have helped to flush the salt out of the turf and soil.  We intend to replace the lost turf in a couple of weeks time when the site has dried out a bit.

Craig cutting the new 3rd green for the first time

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Weather summary for October

October was very mild with an average temperature of 13.7°, nearly two degrees warmer than average.  The lowest temperature was 5° on the 5th and the highest 20.3° on the 1st.  The warmest October in our records was 2006 with an average of 14.3°.  October is our wettest month with an average of 58.1mm and this October was wetter than average with 65.5mm.  (February has the lowest average rainfall figures with 36.1mm but March and April are only slightly wetter with 37.7mm and 37mm respectively.)  November has started very wet with over 30mm in the first five days.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

River course flooding

There was a surge tide last night that broke through the sea walls on Hazelwood marshes and flooded the river course to levels close to those of the December storm surge.  Unfortunately the timing could not be much worse with work being completed on the turfing around the 3rd green just yesterday.  We will salvage what we can but it is likely that much of the turf will be ruined by the salt water.  Most of the new green remained above the water level and should survive and the 4th tee was only just covered.  We intend to run the irrigation on the green and tee tomorrow in an attempt to flush through the salt.

The 3rd temporary green this morning with the overnight strandline in the foreground

The turf we laid yesterday!
The 6th green
More ruined turf

The 3rd temporary green in the foreground with the new island green behind (early this afternoon)

The 3rd green and 4th tee

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Weather summary for September

September was nearly a degree warmer than average at 15.9°, the highest temperature recorded was 21.8° on the 19th and the lowest was 7.3° on the 25th.  It was a very dry month but although nationally September was reported as being the driest on record this was not quite the case for Aldeburgh.  We recorded 10.6mm, about a quarter of the average for the month (44.1mm) and both 1997 with 9.5mm and 2009 with 7.6mm were drier.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Overseeding / green speed

The results of the over-seeding work that was done on greens and approaches at the end of August have been excellent.  A high percentage of the seed has germinated and lines of new seedlings are visible, particularly in the early morning or late evening when the sun is low in the sky.  The downside has been that due to the light fertiliser applied before seeding, the top dressing applied after and the irrigation water applied to support the growth of new seedlings, the greens have been a little slower than normal for the last two weeks.  These effects are now much reduced and the greens are close to the speeds we would expect in the prevailing weather conditions.  The effect that surface moisture has on green speed was well illustrated today when the stimpmeter reading was around 8ft just after mowing when the grass was still damp from the heavy dew and 9ft around midday when the greens had dried out.

Lines of seedlings on a bare patch on the 6th approach

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

River course construction work

We're making good progress with the construction of the new 3rd green and approach and the 4th tee.  All of the subsoil levelling has been done and the topsoil (17 x 29 tonnes) has been spread on the fairway and green surround.  The irrigation pipes and valve boxes have been installed and the drainage pipes and non return valves are in place, to allow any future flood water to drain from the site.  This week we're spreading the root-zone soil on the green and tee, laying the erosion control matting on the river face of the bund and hydro-seeding the banks.  Hydro-seeding is the application of seed (salt resistant grass species in this case) in a mixture of water, mulch, fertiliser and binder.  It is sprayed on and helps the seed to stick to the slope rather than being washed away by the first rain shower.

Spreading topsoil on the fairway

Spreading rootzone mix on the green

Weather summary for August

It was a relatively wet month with 84.8mm of rain compared to the 47.6mm average for August.  The average temperature was 16.5° which is close to the long term average.  The maximum temperature was 24.2° on the 5th and the minimum was 7.6° on the 24th, this was the lowest August temperature recorded since our records started in 2000.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

River course construction work

We've had a digger and dumper trucks on site this week digging out subsoil from the borrow area left of the 4th hole and transporting it to the site of the new 3rd green and 4th tee.  The ground level has been raised to create an area that will shed sea water in the event of future flooding and a low bund has been created to protect against flooding from normal tide levels.  The salt contaminated topsoil has been stripped off and it will be spread on the river side of the bund.

Bringing crag to the site prior to spreading and consolidating

Overseeding greens

Over the last two days we've been overseeding the greens using a machine that drops the seed into shallow slits.  The main purpose of this work is to increase the percentage of modern fescue grass cultivars in the greens.  These cultivars are very fine leaved and they produce a denser turf than the old cultivars.  Changing the botanical mix in the greens is a slow and challenging process but the long term reward will be smoother, truer and more consistent putting surfaces.

The over-seeder in action
Neil - rolling the greens after overseeding

Thursday, 14 August 2014

River course construction work

After a few preliminaries over the last week or so work started today on the repair of the 3rd and 4th holes on the river course.  We had two large dumper trucks and a digger on site, excavating material from the pond on the 7th and transporting it to the 3rd green area.

Last week we were very optimistic about this work with a temporary bund being constructed on Hazelwood marshes and the marsh drying out nicely.  At the weekend the combination of very high tides and high winds breached the new bund and flooding on the course reached levels not seen since the tidal surge last December.  Needless to say, this has not created ideal ground conditions for construction work and the thunder storms with very heavy rain this afternoon added to our misery.

We've created a low bund and transported many loads of material to the site today and work continues tomorrow and early next week.  Hopefully with slightly lower tides due this weekend and the bund in place the area will dry out a little as it's quite a mess at present.

The flooding on the 3rd hole yesterday with the temporary green in the foreground

The breach in the temporary bund on Hazelwood marsh
Digging out the pond

Thursday, 7 August 2014


We had 15.6mm of rain yesterday, most of it in a twenty minute period, the photo below shows what the downpour did to the bunkers.  It takes a lot of work to sort out over 100 bunkers when they look like this!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Weather summary for July

July was relatively warm with rainfall close to the average.  We had a total of 47.4mm of rain compared with the long term average of 45.9mm.  The last third of the month was dry with only 1.4mm of rainfall in the last 10 days.  The average temperature was 18.3° (long term average 16.8°) with a maximum of 27.7° on the 26th and a minimum of 9.1° on the 2nd.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Top dressing greens

The main course greens were verticut this morning and then top dressed.  The rain that started around 8.30 didn't help, as dry conditions are needed for brushing the material in but we'd nearly finished by then so it didn't cause us any major problems.  Verticutting is, as the name suggests a bit like mowing but with vertical rather than horizontal blades.  The aim is to refine the putting surfaces by removing horizontal growth and reduce the impact of the coarser grasses on ball roll.  The high percentage of fescue in our greens has a strong effect on the way that the ball rolls across the putting surface.  The ball tends to sit into the fescue giving very good trueness readings (lateral deviation) whilst the coarser grasses have a negative impact on smoothness (vertical deviation).  The smoothness readings are still good but this is an area where there is scope for improvement.  We need to be very careful with verticutting and other agressive treatments as the fescue is weakened by excessive wear.  We only verticut when the fescue is growing strongly so that we don't tilt the balance in favour of the coarser grasses.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Wild flowers

There are lots of wild flowers in the rough at present, adding a bit of colour to the course.
Here are a few examples

Common Toadflax


Large Thyme

Friday, 18 July 2014

Bracken control

We've been spraying some of the bracken this week.   Don't expect the bracken to curl up and die in a few weeks, it only gets knocked back a little during the season of application but is severely weakened the following spring.  Bracken is a very invasive and robust plant that requires persistent effort over several seasons to get good results.  We use a combination of cutting and crushing to weaken dense bracken areas then a selective weedkiller (Asulox).  Several areas of the course that were once a dense and impenetrable monoculture of bracken are now dry acid grassland with a good mixture of wild flowers.  These areas provide a much better wildlife habitat than the bracken and a much improved golfing hazard.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Weather summary for June

The average temperature during June was 15.4° a fair bit warmer than the long term average of 14.8° and much warmer than the record low 13.6° we had in 2013.  It was the second warmest June we've recorded, the warmest being 2003 with 16°.  Rainfall was lower than average with a total of 24.2mm compared with the long term average of 45mm.  18mm of the 24.2 total, fell in the last week of the month. 

River course 3rd hole

The hedge and trees left of and behind the 3rd green on the river course that have been killed by salt water flooding were being removed today.  Some of the pines between the 3rd and 4th holes are also suffering but they're holding on and we're hopeful that many of them will recover.

Work in progress on the 3rd hole

Monday, 23 June 2014

Rough mowing

Our new flail mower had its first outing today, cutting and removing clippings in the long rough.  For the time being we're only cutting a few areas where the rough is very thick.  The outside of the dogleg on the 14th and the area just in front of the 7th tee were done today.

Top dressing

The greens have been top dressed today, the dry conditions we're experiencing are ideal for incorporating the dressing into the turf.

Spreading top dressing

Using a drag mat to work the dressing into the turf

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Tawny Owl

The Tawny Owl that we ringed on the course in May 2012 was found dead in Aldringham on the 16th of April this year.  It seems that it was hit by a vehicle - a far too common fate for Tawny and Barn owls.  A typical lifespan for a Tawny owl is 4 years but the oldest recorded is 21.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Weather summary for May

May was a mild and very wet month.  The average temperature was 12.9 compared with 10.6 in 2013 and a long term average of 11.8.  The highest temperature was 22.3 on the 20th and the lowest 2.3 on the 4th.
It was one of the wettest Mays on record with a total of 86.2mm, the wettest was in the year 2000 when 96.4 mm was recorded.  Of the 86.2mm recorded, 65mm fell between the 21st and 27th and of that 30mm fell in one day on the 27th.  There couldn't be a greater contrast between the springs of 2013 and 2014 in terms of grass growth.  This year we were further advanced in March than we were at the end of May 2013.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Turtle Doves

The UK Turtle Dove population has declined by 95% since 1970.  They overwinter in Africa and a few still breed in East Anglia.  There are two singing males on the course at present, the one below was photographed by the 6th hole this morning.

Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Weather update

21mm of rain fell last night (21st/22nd) bringing the monthly total to 42mm.  It sounds a lot but with evapotranspiration rates running at around 3mm per day it only gives us about one dry week before 21mm of rainfall has disappeared.  

River course 3rd green flooding

The effect on a golf green of four months of daily flooding with sea water can be seen in the photos below.  The trees and hedge behind and left of the green and approach have also been killed.  We hope to start work soon on the repair and renovation work in this area as a decision on the positioning of any Hazelwood marsh sea defences is imminent.  

The 3rd green on the river course

We're constructing a low bund to help dry out the area so that work can start soon on reconstruction of the green, fairway and 4th tee.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Weather summary for April

It was a mild and relatively dry month, the average temperature was 10.8 degrees, 2 degrees warmer than the long term average and 3.5 degrees warmer than last April.  Last year April was the coldest on record, this year temperatures were towards the top end of the range.  The highest temperature was 18.2 on the 17th and the lowest 2.2 on the 15th.  The rainfall total was 13mm with 6.4mm of it falling in one day on the 7th.  The average rainfall for April is 37mm.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Wildlife walk

Our annual wildlife walk took place early this morning in wonderful spring sunshine.  Around 30 species of bird were seen or heard and red deer were present on the set aside fields.  Avian highlights were good views of a singing nightingale and a nesting tree creeper.  The bluebells at the far western end of the woodland are spectacular at present and well worth a look.  Many thanks to the leaders of the walk, Mike Swindells and Dave Thurlow.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Top dressing greens

The greens were top dressed this morning.  Top dressing is one of our main tools for promoting firm and true putting surfaces.  Through the growing season we aim to top dress once every four to six weeks and we usually apply around six dressings per year.  There is strong grass growth at present so the material will disappear into the base of the sward fairly quickly.

Danny top dressing the 4th green

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Practice bunker

The new practice bunker is open for business and Simon Reeve was the first to try it out.  Of course Simon made it look easy; peppering the flag with a dozen golf balls.

Please take care when entering and leaving the bunker as the turf is still a little delicate.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Weather summary for March

It was a warm month with an average temperature of 8.4 degrees, 5.5 degrees higher than March 2013 (2.9) and over 2 degrees higher than the long term average (6.1).  The highest temperature recorded was 18.2 on the 31st and the lowest -0.1 on the 24th.  We recorded 13.8mm of rain, 8mm of this in the first three days of the month.  The average for March is 37.7mm.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Lawn Sand

Lawn sand has been applied to all of the greens today.  This is a mixture of a fast acting nitrogen source (sulphate of ammonia) and iron (sulphate of iron).  The iron will knock back the moss that has appeared during the mild wet winter and the nitrogen will promote grass growth to fill the gaps left by the moss.  Expect to see a darkening of the turf over the next few days and some tram lines along the spreader wheel tracks.  These effects are harmless and temporary; they will grow out fairly quickly.  As with all fertiliser application to our greens the product has been applied at a very low rate to avoid promoting too much lush growth.

Craig applying lawn sand to the 5th green

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

13th hole

The area behind the 13th green was one of the worst affected by the winter storms.  The cedar tree was seriously damaged and had to be removed and several hawthorn and blackthorn bushes along the boundary were blown down or damaged.  We have left some of the damaged scrub in place as it is helping to screen the road, which is more visible than it was prior to the storms.  We've transplanted gorse plants along the boundary with the long term aim of creating an evergreen barrier that effectively screens the road all year round.  More planting will be done next winter and bracken control will be carried out this summer in the hope of encouraging the suckering and spread of the blackthorn shrubs in the area.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Construction work

The base for the new 12th medal tee has been built up with sand excavated nearby.  The site will be left to settle over the summer months and the tee will be finished off in the autumn.
 Some work has been done on extending the pond on the 7th hole on the river course.  Work will continue on this project as and when the resources are available.  The crag that we're excavating is proving very useful for path building and maintenance.

Extending the pond on the 7th

Friday, 7 March 2014

Practice net

The new practice net is finished, apart from some levelling and seeding of the surrounding area.  It's hiding between the new extension to the chipping green and the 18th green.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Weather summary for February

February was much warmer and wetter than average. The average temperature was 7 degrees, the highest we've recorded since the weather station was installed in 2000. Quite a contrast with last year when the average temperature for February was 3.2. The highest temperature recorded was 12.2 degrees on the 24th and the lowest was 1.5 on the 11th. We had 61.2mm of rain (the average for February is 36.1mm) bringing the year total to 143mm, nearly 40% of the 363mm total for the whole of last year.
The mild weather has brought a little grass growth so we have much better definition of fairways than normal for the time of year.

The Met office have produced a very interesting report on the potential causes of the recent storms. Click this  link to read the pdf.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Gorse coppicing

Over the next few weeks we'll be coppicing gorse in various areas around the course.  Some work has already been done and the recently purchased chipper has made the clearing up much more efficient and eliminated the need for fires to dispose of trimmings.  In the main we will be selecting small and widely spaced areas of leggy gorse for coppicing, to reduce the visual impact.  More extensive work will be done in a few areas but these are mainly where safety issues have been identified and sight lines need to be improved.  The long term aim of the gorse coppicing programme is to improve the visual appearance of the gorse and increase its value for wildlife by creating more diversity in height and age.

Practice mats

Two artificial tee areas have been installed on the river course practice ground, these will be brought into play once the seeded areas around them have established.  Another section has been laid on the short game area; this is ready for play immediately.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Storm damage

In the high winds today, yet another tree was blown down on the course, this one in the copse right of the 9th hole.  More trees have been uprooted or broken by storms this winter than the total number during my previous 16 years at the club.  Although we've had very high winds this winter, I don't think this fully accounts for the level of tree loss sustained.  The very cold spring and cold and dry early summer of 2013 put the turf under a lot of stress and it's likely that trees suffered too.  Many trees weakened by last year's record breaking weather have been unable to withstand the storms.

On a more positive note, the timing of our purchase of a chipper could not have been better.  It's been very busy over the last few weeks and has saved many hours during the clear up work. 

The pine tree, uprooted right of the 9th hole

The new chipper in action

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Short game area

Work has just been completed on the extension to the chipping green and new bunker.  If growing conditions are good the area could be in play for early summer, although the height of cut on the green will not drop below 7mm this season.

Please keep off the new turf to give it the best chance of getting established quickly.

Laying turf to the extension to the short game area