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The weather has been fairly good over the winter so far, without too many days of frosts, rain or snow.
Work has begun removing gorse on the first 4 holes of the course, with backfilling happening at the same time. Areas on the right of the 2nd and 3rd have been turfed over. The stumps on the 2nd and 18th have yet to be removed but should happen shortly.
The bunker on the 7th has been completed and should be easier for members to play out of, it will be back in play at the end of March.
The greens have been vertidrained and are due to be tined again with smaller thinner tines.
The tees and aprons have been tined twice so far over the winter period and are due a light feed to take them into the springtime.
The fairways have been tined in November and given a spray of iron sulfate and have just been tined and given another spray of iron and wetting agent.
The rock armour has now been completed along the 6th and 7th coast and infilling between the stones and the top of the bank has started, this will then be seeded to finish.
We are starting to experience some colder mornings now and as such the rate of grass growth has dramatically fallen back.
The greens were cored, seeded and topdressed towards the end of October and had an application of iron, potassium and wetting agent to help them through this period. The height of the greens has now been brought up to 5mm from 4mm.
The tees were over seeded at the start of October as were the aprons, with some of the tees being seeded again at the end of the month. The winter tees are due to be reinstated on the 14th November. This may change, though, as the coastal erosion works are also scheduled to begin on this date at the 6th and 7th holes. Members will be kept informed through the usual means.
The fairways are starting to be sprayed with iron sulphate to help reduce a build up of moss, this will also help to keep casting worms down and promote better grasses by acidifying the soil.
We have started cutting back the roughs this week and removing the clippings which will help to improve the quality of the grasses.
We will be carrying out the following work over the winter, as well as normal care and maintenance of the course and practice ground.
1. Reduce / trim gorse bushes on 1st 2nd and 3rd holes
2. Reinstate area along the side of the course where the erosion works are taking place
3. Repairs to bunker heads and backs
4. Repairs to bare turf areas around course
5. New banking in areas along roadside to prevent cars parking
These works will be planned to tie in with the priority areas identified in the member’s consultation response. As the work associated with the coastal erosion works is currently unquantifiable, the plan may need to be adjusted. Again, members will be notified of any changes which may occur.
Summer has just arrived and there appears to be an end in sight for the continual rain, which creates its own challenges for the greenkeeping staff. The occasional warm weather and the continual wetness have ensured that there is plenty of growth around the course.
Unfortunately, the work that was carried out at the chanory car park to improve the parking and traffic flow is also presenting the club with a few unwanted problems. The increase in the number of vehicles going through the course and the narrowing down of the roundabout at the car park is causing more traffic to become bottlenecked in front of the 5th tee and green.
We have already had to block off the access to the old nursery at the rear of the 12th green and access to where sand and soil is stockpiled, as the visitors were using this as an overflow carpark. New signs have been put up to warn drivers that there is no parking at the sides of the roads. We are also in constant contact with the highland council to make them aware and we await some action to help improve the current situation. As well as the parking problems in this area, the contractors have left the area to the left of the 5th green in a state which is less than ideal. We have had one meeting so far to discuss the way forward, and another meeting is arranged for this coming week to try and come up with a solution which is acceptable to the club.
The greens are continuing to be regularly verti cut, topdressed and rolled. With all the rain we have had, the greens are softer than during a normal dry summer and we are starting to see more pitch marks again. Obviously, it is in everyone’s interests to repair their pitch marks as they go. Recently, I was approached by 2 members playing in the sweep to say that the side of the hole cup at 10 was damaged. This turned out to be a pitch mark right on the edge of the hole cup and was not repaired which affected the roll of the ball into the cup. So please repair your pitch marks.
The aprons have had a second verti cut and topdress to help improve the surface
The weaker tees have all had a second feed of 12:5:20 slow release granular fertilizer to help improve the grass cover and appearance. The club’s policy of allowing play from all tees obviously has had an impact on some of the teeing grounds. This is more evident on the white tees, which are obviously proving to be the more popular of the teeing options. To try and help the situation on some of the more well-worn tees, we are trialing a box filled with divot filling mix on the 5th tee. This has proved to be beneficial, and we may extend this to other tees which are showing signs of wear and tear.
The fairways are improving all the time with fine grass content and cover and are due to be barrel tined soon to let them breathe.
The rough will have another spray with the grass herbicide and weed killer towards the end of this month, to help thin them out again before we cut the rough down in October.
Work will be starting next month behind the 9th tee area. This is to remove some of the gorse in this area to allow access and storage for the erosion works on the west side of the course which is due to begin in October. These works will comprise rock barrier works extending for approximately 200 metres to reinforce the existing sea defences. A contractor has been engaged to complete the heavy works, whilst the greenkeeping staff will carry out the finishing earthworks and seeding of the area.
Once again, summer has supposedly arrived. You know it’s still cold though, when the greens staff are still wearing their winter coats and lined snowsuits! Spring has been its usual cold, windy self with a few hot days thrown into the mix, but we are now starting to see a continuous amount of growth around the course and are now cutting all areas on a regular basis.
The amount of fescue has been greatly increased on aprons, tees and fairways. Whilst the uptake of fescue on the greens has improved, I would like the rate to increase so that we can have a true and consistent putting surface. This should improve if we have a relatively dry summer. The poa grasses on the greens are seeding at the moment, and produce the small white heads on the surface. The poa grass has been put under stress with the weather conditions and the limited amount of feed that we give the greens and the seeds will disappear shortly.
This is a perennial problem which will disappear entirely when the fescue programme is complete. We are now 3 years into a 5–7 year programme, and we should see improvement year on year. So that the Council can be assured that the fescue programme is on track, we are once again engaging the services of the STRI to examine and report on the state of the course grasses. The last report they produced in 2014 was positive and confirmed that the fescue programme was the correct strategy to employ.
We have begun regular verti cutting and top dressing of the greens and this will continue throughout the year. The tees have been verti-cut once so far this year and will be done again shortly and once more towards the end of the season. The aprons are on a more regular verti-cutting and top dressing regime than the tees to help improve the surface and quality of the grasses. The fairways have been sprayed with iron and wetting agents during April and will have another spray of wetting agents shortly, to help them through our summer weather.
The 1st and 18th fairways are being treated with a more expensive different product provided by a manufacturer free of charge, in return for regular condition reports. There has been a noticeable improvement in the condition of the fairways and hopefully this will continue. All areas of rough are coming along nicely – we have sprayed the rough with a grass herbicide and this has allowed only the finer grasses to grow. The rough is fine and wispy, allowing you to find your ball, but still provides a tough test when trying to extricate your ball! The fairways and semi rough have also been sprayed to reduce daisies and plantains.
The areas where whins have been removed along the sides of the 10th and 15th are slowly starting to recover. Once enough growth has been established in the new grasses, we will tidy those areas which are currently Ground Under Repair, with the ultimate aim of returning those areas to playable parts of the course as soon as possible.
Lastly, I would like to thank all of the members who turned out to help in the divoting exercise earlier in the year. This is much appreciated and helps us focus on those parts of the course which need attention.
Mark Campbell Head Greenkeeper
This winter has seen a lot of rainfall so far, with 56mm of rain in November, 131mm of rain in December and a further 28mm of rain up to the 10th of January 2016. We have been far luckier than some courses but this is still a lot of rain for what tends to be a dry course. We have tried to keep greens in play where possible but at times we have had to rest them and let them dry out, even when the puddles have gone from the surface the greens are still at saturation point and are very soft. We could do with a few weeks of dry weather to let the course dry out fully.
With the wetness and cooler temperatures, some areas over the greens have died back and are not looking the best. These areas will return once we start getting better drier weather and warmer temperatures. We will also help to bring these on with the addition of some light fertilliser. The greens were vertidrained at the start of October but will be done again when we can take a tractor over the surfaces without causing any damage. They have also been barreled tinned several times to allow air into the green.
The winter tees were also barreled tinned during December to let more air in. These will be topdressed in the near future too. The fairways, have had a treatment of sulphate of iron at the end of October to reduce the moss but because of the constant wetness, some moss is coming back so we will have to repeat this after the fairways have been tinned again.
We have removed some gorse from the rear of the 17th green and down the right-hand side of the 18th winter tee, this will help air flow around the winter tee and help to keep it drier. We have also carried on removing gorse down the right side from the tee to help improve the view of the 18th green.
We took the opportunity whilst the road through the course is closed to start work with a local farmer to cut back the gorse along the said area and this will definitely help with finding lost golf balls and provide a clearer view of the traffic and pedestrians using the road. It will also improve the health of the gorse as it has become weak and leggy. Once this area is finished we will start cutting back the gorse beside the 15th tee.
Mark Campbell head greenkeeper
New mounding left side of 11th green between gorse bush in front of winter tee up to next gorse bush.
Gorse trimming around course. Gorse front right of 15th tee. Along the roadside through the course.
Remove stone line in front of 6th apron on the fairway.
Core greens, aprons and tees.
Verti drain greens, using 1/2” tines
Barrel tine fairways, walkways and other wet areas in roughs.
Patching of worn areas as required.
Reinstating banking alongside the 6th coastline if coastal erosion repairs go ahead.
According to the met office, may has been colder, wetter and windier than average. I think we can all agree with this! As a greenkeeping process its not been the best month for growth and has been sporadic at best. We are just now starting to see a decent growth pattern to the greens and tees and are generally about 4 weeks behind, growth wise, to were we normally would be and are only just starting to verticut and topdress on a regular basis, the greens tees and aprons were verti cut during the first week of june followed by the greens, aprons and first fairway being topdressed afterwards.
The greens and tees have just had a light feed of nitrogen and potassium to help them come out of the cold spell and the fairways will follow suit in the next couple of weeks.
We did not overseed the tees and fairways during may as it was too cold and windy for the seed to take, but have now completed seeding the tees and are hoping to overseed some of the fairways this month.
Weed killing was carried out on tees and on some fairways, the rest of the fairways and greens will be completed during the warmer weather, as will the practice area.
The only area on the course that is really coming on is the rough! In general it is looking very clean with only a few areas that is thick and clumpy, these are the areas we will look to target with herbicides, to thin the grasses out and encourage finer grass species to dominate.
A new shelter has been installed left of the 6th green amongst the gorse, this shelter at the moment is very clean and fresh looking but is tanalised and will weather to a grey colour in the future.
There is an oyster catcher nest in the rough between the 16th and 17th roughs and has been marked with white hoops, please where posible can you avoid this area until the chicks hatch and have left the nest
Mark Campbell head greenkeeper
On the whole April has been a dry month with many warm sunny days, but still some cold nights, grass growth is still slow and patchy but hopefully, in the coming weeks this should improve as long as we do not have any more snow!
Because of a lack of growth, we have only been cutting and rolling the greens when deemed necessary. Greens can be a bit uneven at this time of year due to the variable growth between different grass species. The use of the turf iron at this time helps to smooth out the putting surface.
The greens and aprons have had their second dose of wetting agent and are looking good for this time of year, a lot of seed from last year has come through on the greens and is establishing well, the aprons are also starting to fill in nicely and will be verti cut soon followed by over-seeding for the second time this year, both will continue to be regularly top-dressed. There has been some leather jacket activity on some of the greens, most noticeably the 8th green, the greens have now been sprayed with an insecticide to kill the grubs off.
The poorer fairways have had a granular feed and have been treated twice with a wetting agent, whilst all the rest have only been treated once, there is quite a good recovery rate on the poor fairways, with a lot of the seeded fescues coming through and establishing, this is very noticeable on the 1st fairway!
The fairways will be seeded again through the month of may using the over-seeder. There was again a great turn out for the divot evenings and all we need now is for more warmth and the occasional shower for the seed to take, thank you to all those members and staff who turned out to help.
The rough between the 7th and 11th fairways has had a light spray of selective grass herbicide to weaken the coarse thick grasses and allow the fescues to come through stronger, hopefully this will improve play and how long it takes to find your ball! This will be monitored and given another dose of spray if deemed necessary.
If this spray has the desired effect, then we will be treating other areas in the future.
The new mound on the 12th has taken extremely well and looks like it has been there for a long time, we will not be cutting down the grass on the bank as we are not trying to make the course easier, we will be encouraging the area of land in front of the bank to establish better and look more like the rest of the roughs around the course.
Since my last report we have had a new member of staff start, Ryan Day, he is a fully qualified svq3 greenkeeper, who comes from Glasgow.
Since Christmas, we have gone through a period of bad weather, more frost and snow in one month than we received over the whole of the previous winter. We are now looking a more settled period of weather and hope to return to patching areas of the course, in the next week we have turf arriving for finishing the patches that are all ready opened, as well as turfing over where the shelter on the 11th was. The committee is looking at areas to site a replacement shelter.
The Greens since Christmas have been barrelled tined but nothing else done to them due to the weather but we are looking to give them a light feed and a topdress in the following month, to help them recover over this cold snap.
The Tees have had a similar treatment to the greens and will also be fed in the next month, followed a couple of weeks later by coring and overseeding.
The Aprons will receive similar treatment to the Tees and topdressed.
The Fairways have been barrel tined twice and will receive a further tine over the next week or so and have had a covering of soluble iron, to reduce the moss and will have another spray in the next couple of weeks. This will help them recover quicker going into warmer weather.
During the third week in February we will be starting to strip the area to the left-hand side of the 12th (opposite the 13th tee) leading towards the 12th green. This area will be raised and banked to bring more definition to the hole itself and to improve the playing surface with stones coming through the turf at this time. We have marked an area that allows a crossing to the 13th tee. This will not be banked.
You may have noticed some gorse clearance going on around the course, we are trying to hit the worst areas and take the bushes down to the bottom growing buds to help re-establish the plants, this will help to allow the plant to put its energy in growing thicker and not leggy. In time we will cover all the course, but it is not possible or practical to do everywhere at once, or you end up with stumps everywhere all at the same height needing worked on in the future all at the same time, also having some mature areas around the course still provides habitats and wildlife corridors from predators and does not give the course a heavy maintenance feel to it.