Winter golf course maintenance continues at Greetham Valley

Well, Christmas has come and gone without any of the white stuff falling, which has given everyone a chance to get out and enjoy the golf courses when in previous years it has not been possible.

The weather conditions have been favourable to allow us to continue to present the courses in good order, which will give us an excellent platform to start the new season. I am already planning the purchase of the fairway fertiliser and if these conditions continue I will be fertilising towards the end of February.
The benches are now back out on the courses after my staff have repaired and treated them; the tee markers have been painted and are ready for the start of the season; we just have the flag poles to do when the next inclement weather arrives.
We have started to replenish the sand in the bunkers, and still have a few more of the bunker faces to repair, which will be done throughout February along with bunker edging.
I have spoken to Robert about brightening up the car park, and we are looking at some sort of planting that will define the parking lines a bit better along with improving the aesthetics.
We are at present extending the 10th medal tee on the Lakes, which was made possible when we moved the path last year. This should be completed within the next two weeks. 
I was hoping to block pave some more paths this winter but we haven’t had time; maybe in March I will be able to finish around the putting green, and then we will plan to carry on with the remainder at the end of the year.

Enjoy your golf! Regards, Adi

Sexy new equipment for Greetham Valley’s golf courses!

New Toro fairway mower - Adi's latest pride and joyJust a quick update before the festive period begins…..
This has been the first year in my 17 years at Greetham Valley that we have had to cut the fairways in December. The only problem is that we sold the fairway mower last week and we had to cut the fairways with the tees mowers! Luckily, today we have taken delivery of a brand spanking new very good looking Toro fairway mower.
Sexy new Toro sprayerAt the same time we took delivery of a new dedicated Toro sprayer as well, so when you see it out on the course please take a minute to have a look at it, and I will happily explain the the all-singing, all-dancing, state of the art features on it. It is truly amazing! Although Robert tells me that it has only replicated what was available on his and Frank’s agricultural sprayers many years ago….
The greens are looking and playing well at the moment and I see no reason why this can’t continue throughout December and into January. We are, however, getting to the period when the preventative fungicide programme that I follow is coming to an end, so if the mild weather continues the greens will be vulnerable to an attack. So we will be carrying out all the usual cultural practices to try to prevent it. I will be keeping my fingers crossed for a frosty Xmas period!!
 I will be back with another update in January when I will explain about some of the changes and improvements to the course that we will be doing for 2012.

 I would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.


Maintenance on the golf courses in November

Autumn trees on the golf coursesIt is absolutely amazing how mild and dry it still is for the middle of November!

We are still cutting greens 3 times a week – the grass is so healthy,  it’s really enjoying the mild conditions and simply won’t stop growing! Hopefully the fairways have now had their last cut and we will soon be starting the aeration work on them.

Placing on fairways is now in operation and soon I will be moving the yellow tees forward onto the grass winter teeing areas. There are still only 4 mats that will be used this winter and they are on the 3rd, 13th, 18th on the Valley and the 10th on the lakes.
We are doing our best to clear up the leaves as quickly as we can – the joys of so many deciduous trees all over the golf courses! –  so please be patient as I know from personal experience how frustrating it is to be looking for your ball among the leaf fall.
We are continuing with some re-turfing work around the course and will start on the bunker banks shortly.
I am in the process of planning further changes and improvements to the courses eg extra or larger bunkers, tee improvements etc. Greetham Valley members often have excellent and sensible suggestions regarding increasing enjoyment of play so please do jot them down and hand them to Frank or Robert, who will filter out the possibilities (cheapest) and pass them on to me.
Regards for now, enjoy this unseasonal weather while it lasts!

Maintenance work on Greetham Valley’s golf course

Aerating the 7th greenI would like to explain the reason for the work on the 7th green on the Valley course.
We have aerated the front half of the green with 25mm tines to a depth of 300mm, and filled the holes using 1-2mm grit. This has been done using large funnels as seen here. The reason for this work is to improve the infiltration rate, (the rate at which water moves through the profile). You may have previously noticed the front half of the green had become a bit yellow compared to the back, and this is due to the air space in the rootzone being taken up by water that can’t move through the profile quick enough. If not corrected this would lead to anaerobic conditions resulting in weak growth and thin sward.
Drainage work on 11th fairwayThe drainage work on the 11th fairway on the Valley course will commence on Monday31st October and hopefully be completed by Wednesday 2nd November, during which time the 10th and 11th holes will be closed. Thankyou in advance for your understanding of the requirement for this essential golf course maintenance work.

September at Greetham Valley

September officially sees the start of Autumn, but in my opinion it seems to be getting later and later. With the air temp and soil temp above average at present, I believe we will see continued grass growth well into November. Good! This will enable us to continue to present the courses in the condition they are at present.

I am in the process of planning the drainage to the 11th fairway on the Valley course. I would love to get it all complete by the end of this month or the first week in November. It may be necessary to close the hole for a few short periods, but this will be kept to an absolute minimum, and we will give plenty of notice so you can plan your golf around it.

I will be fertilising the tees this week along with the surrounds. Heights of cut will be raised in order to help the grass tolerate the wear and tear during periods of low growth.

Fairways raised to 17mm
Tees raised to 14mm
Greens raised to 4.5mm and then to 5mm in November for the duration of the winter.

We will shortly be carrying out renovation work to some of the bunker banks that have erroded, and as time permits, continue with the block paved pathways.

I entered a pairs competition in the summer with the course manager from Glenn Gorse Golf Club (just greenkeepers from the East Midlands) and we have got through to the final, which is to be played at Bearwood Lakes Golf Club in Berkshire. We are playing a pair from Market Harborough GC. The final is the third week of October, so I will let you know how we got on in my next blog.

I like the rain!

The bit of rain during August was very much needed and has promoted a little growth throughout all areas of the course. The greens have now fully recovered from the renovation work we carried out recently. The Bent seed has all germinated, the vertidrain holes are covered over, but are still open under the surface, which will encourage deep rooting through a well aerated rootzone and so put the greens in the best of health leading into the Autumn/Winter.

Over the next few weeks we will be demonstrating some new pieces of equiptment to start our machine replacement programme. This will start in Spring 2012 and continue through to 2014 during which time we will have replaced all our major mowing and spraying equipment.

I have started to plan some course improvement work for the winter, and one area I would like to improve is the drainage on some of the Valley fairways. We will probably just do one fairway this Autumn and then assess the improvements through the Winter before we commit to doing any more.
We will hire in a chain trencher and carry out the work ourselves to keep the costs to a minimum. There will be many more projects that we will undertake throughout the course of the winter but I will explain about those as and when they happen.

August on The Green ..

I have just returned from a 2 week cruise around the med and just about got my land legs back in time to start work on Monday. Stuart, my deputy, took charge during one of our busiest fortnights and I would like to thank him for maintaining our high standards through Captains’ Weekend and also the Pro-Am with limited staff.

You may have noticed this week that we have been carrying out some severe maintenance work on the Valley greens. It may seem more disruptive than you are used to seeing, and the reason for this is that I now carry out all the major renovation work at the same time, whereas in the past this has been split up, previously creating 2-3 periods of disruption as opposed to just one.

The work that we have carried out is…. vertidraining (deep aeration), hollowtining (thatch removal), scarifying, overseeding and then topdressing. And now with all this work out of the way, you can enjoy good quality putting surfaces for the remainder of the year and into 2012.

I will shortly be fertilizing the tees surround and fairways with a liquid feed in order to keep the growth ticking over as we head towards the Autumn.

I thought I would list some rainfall figures so you can see just how dry this spring/summer has been.

                  2010          2011
March        39mm        4mm
April           15mm        2mm
May            19mm        33mm
June           45mm       40mm
July            47mm       67mm

Total         165mm      146mm

Last year was one of the driest on record and this year has been even dryer. As a comparison, for the same period in 2009, we had 238mm!!!!!

Iceland to Rutland

Last Tuesday I packed my bags and headed off to Iceland with one of our machinery suppliers and a few other greenkeepers from various parts of the UK, and WOW, what a week it turned out to be. The trip was organised by Ransomes/Jacobsen who manufacture a wide range of greenkeeping machinery and was part of an initiative to raise the profile of their company. The itinerary was packed from 6.30am starts to 2.00am finishes. Firstly, the sightseeing….

We went to see the famous geysers, and what an amazing experience that was. Every 8 to 10 minutes a column of hot water and steam bursts into the the air to about 10 meters high. This is caused by the water being boiled deep below the surface by the molten volcanic rock, which causes it to expand and force it’s way up


We then moved on to see Gullfoss water fall that is produced  from glacier water. What amazed me was the volume and force of the water, it was immense. It is a two tiered waterfall with a total drop of approx 34m.

We managed to squeeze in 3 rounds of golf during our visit, 2 in Iceland and 1 on the Westman Islands. One of the courses was built on a Lava field, with very tight fairways and lava rock as the rough; this made for a very challenging round of golf. All the members carry what they call a “Lava club” in their bag which they use whenever they don’t find the fairway, as you have to be very skillfull not to break your wrists let alone your club.

During June and July, there is 24hrs of daylight which is very strange. Seeing people teeing off at midnight (us included) just isnt normal! On the downside, they only get 3 hrs of daylight in the winter.

I asked the greenkeepers if they have to work under spotlights, they just replied, “no, we play darts”.

You may have in the past heard or read about me complaining of lack of growth in the spring, well never again. The growth in Iceland still hasn’t started yet at over half way through the year. They have similar grasses to us, suffer the same diseases as us, yet only get about 3 months of good growing weather at best. So you can imagine that the playing conditions are not always that great, but the golf courses are full of very happy members accepting the courses as they are. I have to say that a few weeds in greens and bunkers and a few bobbly putts would soon be erased from memory, as the stunning locations, with backdrops of volcanoes and the sound of the sea crashing against the rocks just feet away, made the golf one of the best experiences I have had.

Just a brief word on the local cuisine…
During my stay I have eaten: raw puffin, raw rotting shark, raw whale meat and horse meat – they did actually cook this but only for 30 seconds each side. I wouldn’t recommend any of them. The local beer we were drinking was called “Gull”; it wasn’t untill I got home that I thought about all the gulls on the island and can’t help wondering if these are probably used in some way to produce the beer ….

18th green on the Lakes course.

I would just like to explain the sudden activity around the 18th green on the Lakes course.
It has long been our intention to widen the path next to the green and allow buggies access; such work would normally have been carried out during the Autumn/Winter when we have more time, but as we were also constructing a reed bed, we had quite a lot of stone to dispose of, so it was decided that rather than move the stone twice we would widen the path now.
We tipped approximately 50 tonnes of stone into the lake which gave us a bit more space to construct the path. This is now complete and hopefully didn’t disrupt your golf too much. Buggy users will still be directed down the left side of the fairway but will now be able to use the new path instead of having to go around the 18th Valley.

Other news… we have been growing strawberries this Spring in our new polytunnel, and these are just about ready now for picking. I would like to add that they have been grown with seaweed as their main nutrient and no fungicides have been used, so please look out for our home grown strawbs and let us know what you think!

Where is the rain?

Well, the rain that I was hoping for never came, we had 14 mm which is nowhere near enough to promote any significant growth on the fairways and rough. The greens  however are in excellent condition and are the envy of many of our neighbours.
It has been too dry to spray any selective weedkillers so far, so please bear with us: as soon as possible I will be spraying bunker banks, tees and any areas of rough and fairways that require treating.

A message to any readers who like to play their golf at daft o’clock at the weekends: my staff start work at 5.00am to cut greens and prepare bunkers, and they have very limited time to get the jobs done, so please give them priority on the course. They will do their best to allow you to play through but if the flag is out then please don’t play to the green, they will have seen you, but may not have the time to let you play through. I would suggest not teeing off before 5.30am and then you should not have any delays.

I have been invited by one of our machinery suppliers to a visit to Iceland in June. This is purely to prepare myself for the ever increasingly cold winters we are experiencing!!!! It has nothing to do with the playing of golf or visiting the geysers or anything like that! I am thinking of doing a presentation of my visit shortly after my return, so you could well be getting an invite to an evening listening to me waffle on about my dull time in Iceland.

Thats about all for now.