End of year update.

As we are coming to the end of what has been a very good year on the golf course I will keep you updated with how things have progressed since my last blog.

The weather has been fantastic through autumn, allowing us to present a good standard of course. This time last winter we had been shut around 20 times from Oct, thankfully we have had 80mm less rain this back end compared to last year.

The greens have been in fantastic condition. We have had a strong outbreak of fusarium this past week, the climatic conditions were ideal for it. A fungicide was applied yesterday in the hope to keep on top of it.

We are hand cutting twice weekly. Next week there will be some disruption early in the week as it is vital that we verti drain them. We will be using the 19mm tines hopefully going down 10-12″. To get the smoothness back we will cut the greens as usual but also roll, if conditions allow.

Please be aware there are still a ridiculous amount of pitch marks on the greens. Every shot you make into a green will leave a mark, please repair the damage, and if you are playing with someone who doesn’t please pull them up about it. Un-repaired pitch marks only make a green worse, these are your greens.

We haven’t really had any tests for the new drainage on the 2nd, 6th & range. Today is the first really. Good news is that they are all pulling decent amounts of water from the course.

It is the time of year where fences are out on the course, It frustrates the life out of greenkeepers seeing members,

  • Walking along side paths. Please use the pathways.
  • Taking trolleys under ropes. The ropes are there for a reason we DON’T want trolleys in that area.
  • White lines around greens. Also please keep out of these areas with trolleys, the line isn’t a tightrope that you must keep your trolley on!!
  • Roped off areas. If you have to take out a post to take a shot, please put it back.

There are some greens without white lines around, this is not an invitation to take your trolleys in-between bunker or on the surround. Please use your common sense. All the course protection measures are that we have a good course as early as we possibly can next season.

Thanks for reading, please follow us on twitter @ashtonleagreens, this will give you daily reports on the state of the course and updates of what we are doing.

We also have a facebook page, search for Ashton and Lea greens. Please like the page and ask your golfing friends to like the page, make them aware of the good things we are doing and producing.

Any concerns or opinions on what we are doing please contact us directly on greens-ashtonlea@hotmail.com.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, looking forward to a good season next year

Thanks, Mark Shuttleworth ,(Deputy Head Greenkeeper)

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Drainage update

Just a brief update as to what we have been up to during this past month.

The planned greens maintenance started with a breakdown to the verti drain, so unfortunately we wasn’t able to complete any deep aeration. This will be done in the next two weeks, weather dependent. Once we’ve been over with the verti drain we will roll to get the smoothness back as quick as possible.

So once we had the breakdown, we decided we would solid tine followed by a top dress. This was brushed in on the Monday afternoon.

Wednesday, we used 12mm hollow tines, to remove as much organic matter (thatch) as we could. This was followed by another heavy top dress. This was brushed in using our own power brush, filling in most holes.

Thursday, we over seeded with 60kg of bents grass seed. Using the best over seeding machine in sportsturf (Vredo), we got a fantastic result. On the worst greens we did a double pass.

The greens were fed the week after. Recovery has been good. As I type, there is a little disease knocking about, which we will spray for once conditions allow. A feed is due on in the next two weeks. This will go on sooner if we feel it would be beneficial.

Going forward this winter we are already into our aeration programme with shallow slitting taking place this week. When ground conditions allow we will aerate if we feel it necessary. A liquid product called Rocastem https://www.terralift.eu/rocastem/ , has been applied. We have used this product before and had fantastic results from it, so we have a plan to apply this every month over winter.

You would have noticed the drainage work on the 2nd, we have installed 400m of primary drainage and over 1200m of secondary drainage. There is two systems therefore two outlets. The system around the 3rd tee runs into the ditch on the 3rd, as you can see in the photo it is already running, opposed to the old system installed that obviously didn’t work.

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The other part of the drainage, that runs to the left hand side and in front of the green runs into a main that goes under the 2nd tee and into the ditch at the top of the practice ground. We will be installing a man hole in the rough on the 2nd so that we can jet/ inspect the drain anytime we want.

There has also been major drainage work on the practice ground. The main area has been drained from 50m from the bays until 175m. Done at 5m centers then sand slit at 2m centers. The chipping area has also been drained at 5m centres, followed up with sand slits at 1m centres.

A new main drain 176m long x 160mm wide pipe. This will take all the water from the area, this will take pressure off the system coming from the 1st,2nd and 15th. The water from the practice ground used to have to go down the ditch, not now. We had 20mm on the 20/9, the manhole to the right of the 1st f/way would usually be fully underwater before the work, on inspection the chamber was only half full, and was completely empty 36 hours later.

We have also put some sand slits down on the 6th to help dry that surface out

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The are doing them at 1m centres so should take any water into the drains that are already in the area. The hole will be closed 5/10.

Ideally the areas of the course that have been drained/ sand slit would be closed to speed up recovery, unfortunately we can’t. Please could all members do their best not to stand on the trench lines, we are aware this is quite hard but recovery will be hampered whilst people are standing on them.

We are still noticing a unacceptable amount of pitch marks on the greens. If your ball pitches on the green it will nearly always cause an indention that requires repair, especially as we go into the wetter months.

We are also noticing numerous people taking their trolleys between the green and bunkers. Please refrain from doing this as it makes the area bare of grass and compact, making it hard to play off and sometimes unsightly.

Thanks for reading, please follow us on twitter @ashtonleagreens, this will give you daily reports on the state of the course and updates of what we are doing.

We also have a facebook page, search for Ashton and Lea greens. Please like the page and ask your golfing friends to like the page, make them aware of the good things we are doing and producing.

Any concerns or opinions on what we are doing please contact us directly on greens-ashtonlea@hotmail.com.

Thanks, Mark Shuttleworth ,(Deputy Head Greenkeeper)

Planning ahead

This is probably the first time in two years when I won’t complain about the weather, in fact for the past 9 days it has been perfect for recovery and growing grass. over the past 8 days we’ve had a day time avg temp of 19 deg with rain in 6 of those days, absolutely perfect.

I told you in a earlier blog that we had changed our plan on the greens this season. We decided that we would go with a plan from a company called Terralift. We decided this because every time we used one of their products we got cracking results. Last year I felt like we was always on the back foot and more reactive to a problem, by having this plan we this season have been more proactive. The plan is only a very loose guide line, and if you was to look at ours we have hardly done anything when planned. Although we have done everything on it when the weather was right, usually a week before or after when we planned.

Last season we struggled with shallow rooting, as you can see in the picture we have overcome that problem, these roots were 200mm (8″) down, with the putting surface as good as it’s ever been.

Now the part that you won’t like, Renovation week plans!!!!!!!

The plan is to start on Monday 3rd Sept. On this day we are going to verti-drain with 12mm tines down 300mm, this will be followed by a scarify at -10mm. We will then clean up the green with a cut, then heavily top dress and use our new sweep’n’fill brush to get all the sand in the holes and grooves.

Wednesday 5th we will be hollow tining with 10mm tines. This will be followed again with a heavy top dress.

Thursday 6th we will be over seeding using a disc seeder, applying 60kg of Bent grass seed, this will be followed by a light dressing.

Please be aware there will be major disruption during the week, and we will have priority at all times.

Also be aware that Dixon’s drainage are booked in also the 1st week of September to complete 400m of drainage on the 2nd hole. The hole will be shut whilst they are working on site, The job is expected to take 3 days.

Thanks for reading, please follow us on twitter @ashtonleagreens, this will give you daily reports on the state of the course and updates of what we are doing.

We also have a facebook page, search for Ashton and Lea greens. Please like the page and ask your golfing friends to like the page, make them aware of the good things we are doing and producing.

We are now also posting pictures on Instagram, search for ashtonleagreens, you should find us.

Any concerns or opinions on what we are doing please contact us directly on greens-ashtonlea@hotmail.com.

Thanks, Mark Shuttleworth ,(Deputy Head Greenkeeper)

Rain then shine!!

It seems like every blog I do is moaning about the weather, this one will be no different!! we have gone from 9 months of the grass plant being under saturation stress, straight into a prolonged bout of drought/ heat stress.

We have spent a lot of the past 5-6 weeks watering the greens, mainly by hand held hose pipe. Our irrigation system is over 25 years old and is past its best. It does a job, but to get the best results from it we are best to use the hose pipe as there are some ares of the greens that need water more than others.

Thankfully the new approach we have taken regarding the fertilizer and soil conditioner input to the greens has worked in that the root depth has increased by at least 50mm,

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Rooting was a real issue last season, we have gone with a more organic approach this time and the results are clear to see. The deeper the roots the stronger the plant.

We are happy with how the greens have performed under these drought conditions with the exception of late May/ early June. The problems came for us on the 26-28th of May, obviously no rain with a combination of 24-26 deg temps, with wind speeds of double what we had been getting.

The caused the plant to loose moisture through evapotranspiration, over 5mm a day for the 3 days, we need to put at least 50% of that back through irrigation, with our system that is hard, adding into the wind affecting the sprinklers it was impossible.

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Not the greatest photo, the top is this May’s evapotranspiration(ET) rates (6mm top), bottom graph is May 2017 ET.

Graham and I decided early season not to put on a wetting agent. Wetting agents are used to release surface tension, so that every drop of water that falls will be able to get into the soil, this helps prevent dry patch which we are suffering from on a few greens. Wetting agents are quite expensive and given that we are never far away from rain we decided against applying one. You know the rest, we had 14mm in May and only 6 days of rain this month. We will not make the same mistake again, 1 is going down next March!!!

This week we have had STRI we has given us some very interesting results considering we thought the greens were struggling slightly. Arguably 2016 was the best season for the greens in a long time, the results we got from smoothness and trueness were similar (smooth) and better (true)

Due to the drought stress the greens have been under all May we haven’t been able to do much work on them to improve the putting surface. We have only verti-cut once followed by top dressing.

Following on from the success in getting deeper roots, we have also reduced the amount of organic matter in the top 0-60mm, which is brilliant. Emma said we are one of a few clubs to reduce OM, with most clubs going up.

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We are hearing that the greens are very receptive, which is great considering the sun baking them. So its great to see that firmness is above target range, but the greens are accepting a good shot.

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The only disappointing result was speed, considering the firmness it would be hoped to be more. Although we haven’t worked on speed with them, we have just been keeping them alive!! The speed will come when we improve the smoothness and trueness and also do a few passes with the verti-cuts

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I feel the greens are in a decent place at current with a good response to the last feed we applied. Although temps are set to increase towards the weekend, we have everything in place to cope with the heat. We are able to do work on them this week, roll 3 times and verti-cut Thurs.

We have had numerous complaints about the bunkers on 11th. The sand in these bunkers is not ideal, although it did pass the criteria set by BetterBilyBunker. We have removed 75% of this sand and replaced it with our usual bunker sand. We will monitor this to see if we get better results.

Please continue to repair pitchmark, and taking bags of divot mix from the tree on the 1st. Also please use the divot boxes on the par 3’s. Unfortunatly we are seeing alot of golfers taking their trolleys between the greens and bunkers. Please follow the white signs infront of the greens and take trolleys around the bunkers and not on the surrounds. Thanks.

Thanks for reading, please follow us on twitter @ashtonleagreens, this will give you daily reports on the state of the course and updates of what we are doing.

We also have a facebook page, search for Ashton and Lea greens. Please like the page and ask your golfing friends to like the page, make them aware of the good things we are doing and producing.

We are now also posting pictures on Instagram, search for ashtonleagreens, you should find us.

Any concerns or opinions on what we are doing please contact us directly on greens-ashtonlea@hotmail.com.

Thanks, Mark Shuttleworth ,(Deputy Head Greenkeeper)

Warmer rain!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sitting out looking over the 18th, all you can see are puddles, happy Friday 13th everyone!!.

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Thankfully the forecast is that this is the end of the poor weather, possibly 18/19 deg next week. Although please don’t get into the mind set that the course will be 100% by next weekend. Due to the weather we’ve had this month we are behind on numerous jobs. No rough has been cut of yet, fairways have been topped off at a higher cut than usual. We still have a few bunkers to top up, we have not been able to get to them with heavy loads, this has been all down to the weather.

Greens maintenance took place over 1 day, we double scarified, cut, top dressed then pro cored with 9mm tines 100mm deep. This was followed by our new brush o get the sand into the profile. In total we used around 20 Ton of sand. We fed them on the same day, then sat back and watched the rain wash it all in. After the winter and start of the year we have had I am pleased with where the greens currently are. We are alternating between cutting and rolling currently, once we get good growth we will cut everyday with rolling 2/3 times per week. The brush will be used occasionally to stand the grass up prior to cutting.

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Dixon’s have completed the main drain leaving the course and lowering the ditch, this will definitely help with the removal of water from the 1st and surrounding holes. Water is now running into the ditch that would have in the past had to go down a 4″ pipe to the right of the 1st.

Our concern with that 4″ pipe is that tree roots have partially blocked it it, restricting the flow of water. Thankfully the directors have invested in a drain jetter to help clear out the pipes. The will be used all over the course to clear and find as much drainage as we can. This will help the course in the future as the weather gets even more unpredicatable.

The bunkers on the 18th are now completed, we are just waiting for the turf to knit into the banks so they have stability. We are hoping of them being in play at the latest next weekend.

Some bunkers will remain GUR this weekend as we haven’t been able to finish them off yet. We have had to extend the drain from the 5th LHS bunker around 40 yards to run into the 6th ditch, the old drain just ended in the rough!!!

Thanks for reading, please follow us on twitter @ashtonleagreens, this will give you daily reports on the state of the course and updates of what we are doing.

We also have a facebook page, search for Ashton and Lea greens. Please like the page and ask your golfing friends to like the page, make them aware of the good things we are doing and producing.

We are now also posting pictures on Instagram, search for ashtonleagreens, you should find us.

Any concerns or opinions on what we are doing please contact us directly on greens-ashtonlea@hotmail.com.

Thanks, Mark Shuttleworth ,(Deputy Head Greenkeeper)

Spring 2018

Don’t worry this is not a blog on how bad the weather has been recently!!! This will be an update of what we are going to be doing now and the next few weeks.

My only reference to the weather is going to be how this winter has made us aware of the importance of,

a) Removing the water of the course asap

b) Getting the water through the greens soil profile asap

An area where water always holds for days is the area to the right of the 1st and onto the practice area,

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This is due to the outlet being too small for the volume of water that we have got to the area. This is being fed from drains on the 1st, 2nd & 15th.

Work started on 5th March by Dixon Land Drainage to replace 60m of 150mm pipe with new plastic 300mm pipe, this will quadruple the volume of water that can be removed,

A man hole is being installed 2.3m deep, this will be fed from the ditch and other areas that we can drain. the ditch is being lowered to its original depth, approx 600mm to take out. We are confident by doing this water will get away as quickly as possible.

Other areas that have been agreed to start work on are the 2nd, work is hoping to commence on installing 400m of drainage during the 1st week of April, dixon’s the contractors need the ground to be able to drive a car on before they are willing to start.

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We also have plans to sand band 750m2 around the 6th area.

We are slightly change the way we approach greens maintenance this season. We have noticed that the greens have been softer than we have liked at times during the winter, a lot has to do with the frequency of the rainfall.

Over the last 3-4 years we have had a programme of removing organic matter (thatch) once per year, during September renovations. We are going to do it slightly different this year if we feel the greens are in a position to do so, light scarification will take place on a few occasions during the season followed by a top dressing. We are also moving to a coarser top dresssing, we feel this will help with getting water through the profile.

We also have a plan to change and mainly use one fertilizer company, we have used their products since our renovations in September, we was extremely happy with the recovery we got. We also used a Terralift product for our autumn/winter feed, we got good results from this, so this is why we have decided to use their feeds this spring.

Spring renovations will also be different this year. Week commencing 26th March we will solid tine the greens (9mm) then do a light (-5mm) scarification, followed by a top dressing and brushed in with our new sweeep’n’fill brush.

Thanks for reading, please follow us on twitter @ashtonleagreens, this will give you daily reports on the state of the course and updates of what we are doing.

We also have a facebook page, search for Ashton and Lea greens. Please like the page and ask your golfing friends to like the page, make them aware of the good things we are doing and producing.

We are now also posting pictures on Instagram, search for ashtonleagreens, you should find us.

Any concerns or opinions on what we are doing please contact us directly on greens-ashtonlea@hotmail.com.

Thanks, Mark Shuttleworth ,(Deputy Head Greenkeeper)

January update

As a team we were well glad to see the back off 2017, it was the hardest year weather wise that any of us had been involved in during our time as greenkeepers. The actual amount of rain that fell during the year was 850 mm, the third driest year in the last 10!!, the problem we faced was during the whole 365 days there was only 140 of them that were dry. The problem was that out of 225 wet days over 50% was 2 mm or less of rain, therefore just topping up the ground every time. I’d rather have an annual total of 1100 mm with 200 dry days, that would be a lot easier to work with!.

It’s been very difficult at times for us to get machines out on the course so we have spent time thinning out plantations on the course.

There are three reason why we carried out the removal of the trees,

1, We took out trees that were weak, other tree’s were stunting their growth. Only the strong survive.

2, We removed the dead trees.

3, Most importantly for us, we removed any trees that didn’t fall into the category’s above to make it easier and quicker to cut rough. Due to the placement of some trees it was impossible to get close leaving large areas needing cut with another machine.

It does annoy the greens team when we get comments about cutting trees down ‘again’. Over the past 17 years we have planted probably in the region of 20-30 times more trees than we have took down. We must remember that being a golf course must be priority number 1. Below are photo’s from 2000,2003 and last year. I think they back up my claim.

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Since we have returned from the christmas break we have begun work on turning the two large bunkers on 18th into 4 smaller bunkers. We took 15 house bricks out of the one on the left during re-shaping!! We also found in that bunker that the drainage pipe was 6″ higher in the middle than at the start, water doesn’t run up hill!!!

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We had a meeting today (Monday) with Ryan from Dixon’s Drainage, he came to finalise the plan for the area around the 2nd green. In total there will be 410 m of new sportsturf drainage installed, the picture shows where,

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We will also be installing sand slitting, this will be a band of sand 10″ deep every 1 m, the area being sand slitted will be an area of 510 m2, the picture below shows the area we are targeting in blue,

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We also discussed the short game area on the practice ground. The plan is to finish of the ditch, this has changed from an open ditch. we will now replace the 6″ pipe with a new twin walled 12″ pipe, this will take 4 times the volume of the old pipe. We will also lower the height of the ditch that runs along the 1st fairway.

The chipping area will be drained with land drains then sand slitting will be done on the surface. We will also be constructing some chipping greens and installing some mats to play from.

I will be doing a blog closer to renovation time to go through the detail of exactly what will happen in March. I have got concerns regarding the fronts of some greens. We will be targeting small areas where we will be hollow coring with jumbo tines and running over some areas with the Graden.

Thanks for reading, please follow us on twitter @ashtonleagreens, this will give you daily reports on the state of the course and updates of what we are doing.

We also have a facebook page, search for Ashton and Lea greens. Please like the page and ask your golfing friends to like the page, make them aware of the good things we are doing and producing.

We are now also posting pictures on Instagram, search for ashtonleagreens, you should find us.

Any concerns or opinions on what we are doing please contact us directly on greens-ashtonlea@hotmail.com.

Thanks, Mark Shuttleworth ,(Deputy Head Greenkeeper)

Greens info @ Ashton & Lea G.C