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)

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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)

Pitchmarks

Just a polite reminder to all the members of the importance of repairing pitch marks.

Having hand cut the greens this morning I was shocked/ annoyed/ disgusted with how many un-repaired pitchmarks there are, to make it worse i saw as I was cutting the 14th green two groups, a two ball & 3 ball both leave 1 pitchmark per group un -repaired, these are members who play most days.

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Due to the run of weather we have had the greens are softer than we would like so any shot coming in is likely to make some kind of mark. So if you hit the green you will have some repair to do. Please self police this.

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I put a tweet out yesterday about the weather we have had this year, up to the 16/11 in the last 5 years we had had,

2017 108 dry days

2016 152 dry days

2015 159 dry days

2014 152 dry days

2013 195 dry 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)

November/  December work

We are aware that one area of the course that is in dire need of attention/ repair are the paths.

We are currently in the process of adding extensions to the paths on the 1st, 17th & 18th. We are also constructing a new path way that will go from the rear of the 1st green up to the path on the 2nd.

We are preparing these areas for the 20th November when a groundwork team will come in and ‘dress’ these paths. Dressing is similar to what happens to the roads on a 4-5 year plan. A thin layer of bitumen 15-20mm will be applied with 10mm stone layered and consolidated into that surface.

This will give up level and safe paths that can be used all year.

We have a plan to do all the paths on the course in this fashion. We are doing the ones around the club house 1st (1st&17th before xmas) 2nd & 18th just after new year. We have chosen these purely because of the little impact on the course doing these will cause. If we are happy with the results the others will be done in stages.

Into drainage,  We have had a dug on the 6th and installed a new latteral as discussed in previous blogs. On the 13th we have dug and inspection hole, unfortunately there is limited fall between that area and the outlet on the right-hand side. The plan is to dig a large soak away and backfill with stone/ rootzone.

As you can see in the pictures above we have aerated the area intensely  (look close you can see the time holes) , unfortunately if there is no outlet for the water to go to it will just sit there accumulating.

The next phase of drainage to the greens are planned for the front of the 2nd & 14th. These will start once the level of cutting on the course has died down. 

We are still on with aeration of the greena to help with removing water and keeping the rootzone healthy. This will be alternate between slit timing and using the pro core. 

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