Over the last month the conditions we have experienced has given us the ideal opportunity to continue to work through our winter program. Gorse clearing and sand installations have been our main focus points during this time and the changes made during these tasks will make a huge difference to how the course looks and plays for the future seasons, especially the gorse and vegetation removal. So here goes with the little insight of what has been going on with us on and off the course in the month of January.
Over the past few weeks, the ground conditions and temperatures have made it extremely difficult for us to do anything other than clearance work. After completing the 18th path we began around 16th tee, following on from last year’s work by taking away the rest of the gorse to the right side of the path. We have been advised to remove the gorse in accordance with our 5 year tree management plan that we started last year. The advice was to remove gorse over the crest of the mound to expose outward views to Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh and Braid Hills. It was felt that it
was an asset of the course that wasn’t being used to its full potential, as the gorse had become quite degenerate. We have also removed a few elders and birch trees that were obscuring the views.
Once we finished that area we started to concentrate on the gorse and other vegetation at the front of the tee. Again the gorse had become overgrown to a point that most of the fairway had become obscured from the tee (especially those who are vertically challenged like myself). The tee shot at 16th is one of the most picturesque on the course with its gorse lined fairway but it had got to the point that it was virtually impossible to see the first 150 yards of the hole plus the whole left side of the hole. Although we have not completed the whole area as yet, we are confident
that the end product will be much more appealing and much safer, as you can now see the group in front, from the tee. It will be a less intimidating and simpler tee shot from now on, and by referencing the amount of golf balls we unearthed from this area it clearly shows that it was a popular spot for any imperfect tee shots.
When we have finished clearing we will then remove as many gorse stumps as possible so they will not return and then landscape area. In the future the area will be maintained as much as possible to limit the chances of regeneration. Last year we finished off the worked on area with cores and seed, this worked well so that is the approach we will use again.
We have nearly completed all the new bunkers with their final levels of sand, but we still have to complete 2 bunkers at the 16th as the freezing temperatures turned up and stopped us from finishing them. The end product has 4 inches of sand in the base and 2 inches around faces and back edges (as mentioned in last month’s blog the bunkers will be raked to ensure that balls don’t come to rest on the edges of the bunkers). The final level of sand has been in place for more than two weeks now and the initial signs have been very good, with no washouts and sand movement so far (although we haven’t experienced large amounts of rainfall yet) and the sand moisture in the bunker is improving every day (on initial installation moisture content was 40%, it has continued to dry out and has now levelled out at 25%, which is perfect and shows drains are clearly working).
When we were putting in final layer of sand we gave all the bunker edges a strim and tidy up to give the bunkers a more professional look and give you an idea what the end product is going to look like. We also gave them a few follow up rakes to get an idea what they are like to maintain and had a few practise shots to get an idea of how they play, again initial reaction is that they can be raked quite easily and most importantly they have a high level of playability and consistency. In the future, before they are back in play we will give the bunkers another going over with a whacker plate to make sure they are firm and then make sure the sand is still distributed evenly (we will add some extra sand to the bases, back edges and faces if required).
The last month has been rather eventful for the greenstaff with some added training and developments to go along with our normal daily working life. Firstly the greenstaff attended some CPR and AED (automated external defibrillator) training with a volunteer from St. Johns Ambulance to teach us the skills needed for us to operate the clubs new Defibrillator (located on the wall to the left of the pro shop). The training provided us with the knowledge and steps on how to perform effective CPR and the essential skills required to operate a Defibrillator. This training
was greatly rewarding for us and left us prepared on how to deal with a cardiac arrest in the unlikely event of this happening to someone when we are close by. More important events were experienced by members of our greenstaff this month also, as Craig passed his chainsaw test and Grant became the new chairman of the BIGGA East Section. Instead of me going on about how they feel and how much work they put into it, I’ll let them tell you about their fine achievements in their own words (their spelling will probably be better than mine anyway).
Bigga East Chairman
“ Recently I was given the opportunity to become chairman of my greenkeeper section (East of Scotland), which covers all courses from West Lothian down to Northumberland including all clubs in East Lothian and the Borders. The main reason I decided to take the role was I wanted to challenge myself and help further my career with the prospect of greater education and tournament volunteering opportunities. Bigga does a lot of good work behind the scenes for greenkeepers and it is something that I wanted to be a part of as I have a great passion for my job and the industry I’m involved in. I have the role of chairman for two years and my goal is to make a positive difference during my tenure.” Grant Moran
“ The course consisted of learning about the saw and how to maintain it, and how to fell trees up to 380mm safely and efficiently with a variety of different type cuts, depending on the situation. During the test I had to display to the assessor how to properly maintain the saw and he asked a variety of questions about the maintenance and what part of the saw did what. In the afternoon I had to fell two trees that were sitting at different angles, using different methods whilst being asked a series of questions.”
“ I’m delighted that I’ve now got my chainsaw certificate. It’s a course that I have been interested in for a wee while now, and I’m thankful to the club for giving me the opportunity to do it. It’s great that they encourage you to add another qualification to your name and I am sure I will put this new qualification to good use during the Tree Management Plan over the next few years.”
Just after the turn of the year we managed to carry out some much needed maintenance to the greens. With the conditions ideal we carried out a range of procedures, spiking, scarifying, verti draining, chisel tining and finally top dressing. These procedures are all part of the management programme we have in place for 2019 and if you remember back to last month’s blog, I mentioned that we needed to focus on providing healthy green surfaces to help fight against the problems we have on the greens (disease, thatch, moisture content, poor root depth and sward composition). By producing the correct foundations (good drainage, lower thatch levels, improving root depths and lower moisture content) we can develop our greens to have greater resistance against the problems we are experiencing.
The procedures we carried out all helped with our main objectives of sustainable, consistent and healthy greens –
Spiking Greens : improved aeration and compaction (better air and water flow)
Scarifying : removes thatch and other poor growth
Verti Draining : drastically improves drainage and root depths
Chisel Tining : closes verti drain holes and improves surface playability
Top Dressing : greatly helps dilute thatch levels and improves putting surface
These procedures were a great success, although you might not be able to see it from looking at the greens at the moment, but every time we carry out this kind of work we can only but improve the general health of the greens. We plan to do much more of these maintenance days in the future and we will try to give the members a heads up a few days before carrying out work as much as possible, but at times the weather might decide for us what day we carry out maintenance. We will highlight any work on the twitter feed on club’s website.
By Shaun Cunningham