TIS Irrigation contractors finished the installation on 7th May. The work was carried out diligently with very little disruption around the greens and tees. A 90mm MDPE ring main was installed generally in the rough and 63mm spurs led to the valve boxes. From here 50mm pipe was fed to each sprinkler along with the new cabling.
We opted to go for Rainbird 751 electric valve in head sprinklers around the greens which gives us individual control of each sprinkler. This can be programmed from the controller in the maintenance shed office and each sprinkler set to a set time depending on its required coverage. We can now apply water to the aprons and approaches with some simple arc setting and adjusting watering times to suit. Another plus with these sprinklers are that they can have a fan tail nozzle fitted which will cast out a fine spray to the rear of the sprinkler and stop these bits from drying up.
On our tees we re-utilized the sprinklers that were on our greens along with other tees sprinklers that were still in good condition. These have been set in to the sides of the tees and some further outwith so as to provide optimum tee watering coverage and also heavily trafficed routes nearby.
The installation included a new galvanized water tank and a variable speed pump which will keep the system pressurized and only work when demand is required, thus saving electricity. We erected a new and slightly bigger shed for the pump house.
Two new bunkers to the left side rough have replaced the original bunkers with the view to giving a wider and bigger landing area to the majority of golfers. We have cut the whins back on the right side bank and once removed and returned to grass will offer a much less intimidating direct line tee shot.
We are in the process of re painting the viewing steps at the 17th tee with a sign asking playing partners to observe the top fairways are clear before safely teeing off.
The greens were 3/8″ hollow cored at the end of February to remove some organic matter in the top 40mm. This was followed up with a slender 6mm pencil tine down to 7″. Hopefully this will alleviate the unsightly superficial fairy ring disorder which is prevalent on some greens. Subsequently we have sand dressed the greens 3 times and added a Calcium and magnesium prill and lately a Spring feed to help kick start some growth.
We still have the first ‘Revolution’ wetting agent of the year to go on which will help with soil moisture retention in the rootzone.
A sure sign of aeration holes not filling in is due to the presence of Leatherjacket grubs eating away at the roots of the grass plant. Unfortunately there is no chemical control for these grubs any longer and it is going to become a problem for many courses especially in the Spring time when we are trying to promote surface levels on the greens.
New irrigation update
TIS irrigation installers arrived late January to some snowy weather and then a glorious February allowed work to progress at good pace. All 90mm MDPE ring main pipe and 63mm going to the greens and tees were vibratory mole ploughed into the ground to 600mm deep. The soil underneath is very stoney to say the least and several sections of the old original 1″ steel irrigation line got unearthed. During March all the 50mm pipe and Valve in head sprinklers were installed around the greens and positioned a little further out so that the aprons can receive irrigation also. Recently the tees sprinklers have been going in and all our old greens sprinklers have been re used to save some money. These are being set in down either side of the tees to allow accurate watering of the tees themselves and also taking account of heavily walked areas by the tees. At this date there are still 5 tees and the lower putting green to complete, the new tank to erect and a new variable speed pump to go into the pumphouse. All going well once electrical and softwear work is tested, the pipe lines and sprinklers flushed and primed we are looking at around a mid April completion.
The black tee at the 4th has been re leveled and re turved while we widened the 8th by a couple of metres and re turved also.
2nd Hole alterations
Three groups of whin bush have been removed on the right hand side. The first bunker which was seldom used has been filled in and made into a little mound which will border the fairway line.
A new right hand side fairway bunker has been built further down the fairway 245 yards from the back of the white tee.
3rd hole alterations
The whins up the left for the first 220 yards have been cut and burnt.
Then we dug out the whin stumps and roots with an excavator and created some dune like mounding on the beach side. Next step was to dig out down into the sand and create a sand scrape and cover the mounding with a good layer of sand. Hundreds of Marram grass clumps have been dug into the mounding and it is hoped that these will establish and thicken out over time and help keep the sand in place. They are quite tussocky at the minute but over time and when some trampling takes place then they will settle down and become more cropped like. We hope to keep the sand scraped area as open sand and it will require a little maintenance from time to time in weed and gorse treating. As it is not a hazard it will be play the ball as it lies, ground your club etc. We will have the mounded areas as GUR for a few months but the fairway side of the new scrape will come into play early season.
17th Hole alterations
Lately we have started the work on this hole to enlarge the fairway landing area and discourage golfers aiming up the 16th hole for safety reasons. The old bunkers are to be filled in and two new ones created further on and to the left.
We hope to get these bunkers finished by mid January and then tackle the whins on the bank once any poorer weather comes in.
Pot seeding of all greens took place on September 10th – 12th. 160kg (17 grammes/m2) of Bar Fescue seed was broadcast over the open tine holes created by our versatile SL6 Wiedenmann machine with solid 16mm tines set into the turf about 30 – 40mm deep. A heavy sanding of around 15 tonnes in total went on first and when it had dried enough it was all drag matted back into the tine holes. Further brushing and rolling took place to help fill up the holes and restore the greens for play.
The benefits of introducing Fescue seed into our greens are that it is firstly a perennial fine leaved grass native to links environments. It is a hardy grass as it is deep rooting and requires less water and fertiliser to keep it happy as oppose to Meadow grass (Poa annua) Ultimately the fineness of leaf offers less resistance to the golf ball and a better all round / year round putting surface. If we can achieve some success from over seeding it would be great to achieve a blend of Fescues / Bent grasses and Poa reptans.
The reasons for doing this kind of work just now and not in October is that it will turn noticeably colder then and that would result a very poor strike rate. With a warmer soil as we have now and some decent rain the greens recovery rate and seed germination success are much improved. Fingers crossed!
We have raised our height of cut to 4.5mm and are rolloing the greens on alternate days and this will give the new seedlings a chance to emerge.
A week later we have sprayed the greens as a little coating and helper for the seed with some liquid seaweed, wetting agent and a little feed.
At long last a dry and warm summer has brought firm and fast playing conditions to our links. Rainfall figures have been low for the past 3 months – April saw 31mm, May 21mm and June 13mm. Combine this with almost furnace like heat and the turf doesn’t take long to dry out. We have been watering the greens on a regular basis apart from the odd shower of rain that we’ve had. Today the heavens have opened and we have puddles everywhere apart from on the greens. That’s good news. The rain will soak in and help the grass recover along with giving some well needed moisture to the divot filling.
The Scottish Boys U16 Championship went well with a couple of dull and damp days to start then a lovely sunny day to finish. We were nursing the greens along as it was so dry before the event and doing a bit of hand watering to areas under stress. When the rain came it greened up the greens and prompted more growth than I would have liked. We double cut and rolled the greens for the last 2 days and gave an extra roll before the final round producing a perfect speed and test for the boys to enjoy. We had a truly International field and the winning score of -9 par was excellent from Italian Matteo Cristoni.
Our fairways had only been cut once in a month just before the boys U16s and this week just to go over any green bits. I prefer to keep a bit of grass on the fairways during drought weather as it really does help them sustain cover in difficult times. We are also saving on diesel! The wetting agent applied in spring also provided a little insurance. Thank you again to all the helpers giving up their time to help with the fairway patching.
Irrigation system – the system has been put to the test this summer and has had it’s fair share of problems. The system was installed in 1981 and is now 37 years old! I was noticing some greens were looking more stressed than others and others particularly green looking and realised that some greens were sticking on and others not coming on at all. There have been a few issues with valves needing cleaned out or renewed, electric coils and decoders replaced and 3 burst pipes to contend with. The tees sprinklers on most tees are at most inefficient and wrongly placed and need re configuring for more efficient water use.
Burst pipe next to 6th greenside bunker
This uncertainty has required the irrigation cycles to be watched at night to see that everything is getting water as it should because it seems like we are getting one problem after another. Just the other morning the 4th green stuck on and it got 50 minutes of water before it was noticed. Not easy to keep the greens consistent when this happens.
The system is limping along with old components at breaking point and it is around 10-12 years overdue in being replaced. Speaking to an irrigation contractor recently he indicated a renewal price of roughly 130-140k for a full replacement of the system.
The tall roughs received a cut back of a few metres in early May and there has been little regrowth since then. The remaining uncut taller roughs have thinned out as well and the balance seems fair with not too much searching going on. No complaints so it must be ok!!
Overseeding – the competition calender eases a bit in the middle of September and it is then that we hope to spike, seed and dress the greens in order to improve the grass cultivar quality. Longer term this improves turf hardiness, appearance and playability with reduced water reliance. Dates are 10 – 12th Sept for this work.
Spring has finally arrived after a prolonged cold winter this year. The fairways received there first cut last week and other areas are starting to show a little growth as the soil slowly warms up.
Following on from hollow tining the tees back in March we have recently verti-cut to refine the sward and today applied a slow release feed. We applied 14 bags of 16.2.10 + 2%Mg + 3%Ca + 6%S which equates to 50kg Nirtogen per Ha / 6kg Phosphorus and 32Kg potassium per Ha. This is the recommended rate to give the turf 3 to 4 months of required nutrient and steady growth to enhance the appearance and aid recovery from wear and tear.
The greens were also vert-cut last week and the height of cut lowered to 4mm. Our 4th sanding of the year went on this Monday to help fill in any imperfections and the 17th green and two putting greens were spiked and seeded to try and ultimately promote some denser turf cover. The greens were also given their base feed today with an organic mineral fertiliser. This contains 5 different forms of nitrogen for a gentle release as temperatures rise. 13.5 bags were used over the 20 greens and this provided 17kg N and K/Ha. This is intended to last for around 7 to 8 weeks to which point liquid feeds will take over as we enter into the hotter summer months. The greens will be slightly slower for a few days until the feed has fully broken down into the grass sward.
Leatherjacket grub activity so far has been minimal and maybe it is due to the cold spring? I’m keeping my fingers crossed that numbers will be low and not cause any real superficial damage as and when they do start to feed on the roots and fill out.
We have over the past couple of months replaced the very fine sand in many bunkers. Some have been dug out down to the membrane and new sand put in and others have had an up turned sod base put in before the new sand added. It seems to be working with not nearly as much sand blow as previously which will save a lot on our labour.
New swailes at 6th hole
These two swailes are taking a little longer to bed in than first expected and mainly due to so little growth. They have been previously sand dressed a couple of times and also rolled, fed and given a flymo recently. Once some regular cutting takes place they will begin to fill out properly and be brought into play then.
We have removed the centre fairway pot bunker and created a swale in its place. In addition to this a new right hand side fairway bunker has been created some 35 yards past the first one. The reasoning behind this is to reward a good drive that holds the fairway in a prevailing westerly wind and in turn tighten up the landing area for the longer hitters. The depth has been kept fairly shallow to offer a longish recovery shot should you go for it.
The splash bunker between the 6th and 12th fairways has been largened with a small grassy island installed within.
The approach to the green has been tightened up with the re introduction of the left side approach bunker. This has been set a little closer to the green than previously and the front lip lowered to allow easier access.
The coffin bunker to the left of the green has been removed and a grassy swale developed in its place. This will be cut at fairway / surround height and allow for a variety of recovery shots from within and through it.
This is one of the bunkers very prone to sand blow and it took up a lot of our time having to re shape during dry and windy weather. The depth of sand was also an issue leading to plugged balls when the sand dried out and the unpredictability of the recovery shot within.
So much of the fine sand was dug out and the base re shaped with the use of old revets /turves before a fleece bunker mat was cut and pegged in. We added back in some fine sand and topped up with a 3” layer of new sand from Balachladich quarrie Muir of Ord.
The new sand once settled and weathered in should offer a more consistent depth and firmness allowing a more predictable bunker shot.
Like all of the turfing work it takes time to knit in and establish therefore we will hope to have all newly completed bunkers open around the middle of March.
The winter season has seen more of a typical Highland winter this year with some snow and a lot of frost days thrown in. I wonder what is yet to come!
We have completed the alterations to the 6th hole and developed a new winter tee for the 7th. All the excavated material which has been dumped along the coastline at 6-7th will be raked out and seeded in the spring. Some whins have been cut out here and there and any regrowth will be treated this year to eliminate future growth with a view to ultimately pulling out the rotting roots and stumps. Meanwhile please take care and be vigilant of any stumps when the grass starts to regenerate within.
Every opportunity over the next few weeks will be spent on bunker renovation of the most difficult bunkers at 2nd, 9th & 13th holes. We have a new liner to install and a new sand to start the replacement process. There is some turfing work to be done around the 16th shelter and the ladies tee plinths all need to be set in properly.
Frosty weather work – we still have some whin pruning work e.g. Roadside at the 9th and at the 13th hollow. All the pathways require re-surfacing to shed the water from them and there is plenty machinery maintenance and cutting unit sharpening to do.
The red lateral water hazard markers are in a poor state and will all be renewed for the start of the season.
We acquired our new greens verti-drain/hollow coring machine in December and took it out over the greens with solid 1/2’’ tines to a depth of 8’’. This aeration work leaves them a little soft initially but the benefits are freer draining greens and increased root density which all leads to healthier and more resilient turf in times of poor weather or heat stress. Following our next hand cut we have a Calcium/Magnesium and Humic acid mini granule product to go on which is geared to encourage soil microflora and gently raise the pH.
Please click onto the link below to view the report relating to proposed bunker additions and alterations on the 6th hole. The link below the report will show you the image/plan of the proposed works. This work is scheduled to commence during the off-peak season as part of the greens staff winter programme. The greens committee and council would welcome any comments from members in writing or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org