It’s all over!!

After 3 weeks of spending my Mondays travelling at 0.9mph the job is thankfully complete. In past blogs i informed you as to why we were carrying out these tasks, in this blog i will tell you how the plan went, the good parts, the parts we can learn from and the things that occurred that were out of our control.

As i stated in my previous blog the plan was to remove cores from the wet areas of some greens week 1 & 3.

The 1st week of work started on the 16th of March, 1 week earlier than originally planned due to the mild weather. It was a perfect day for us with little rain forecast, no ground frost, the only thing it was missing was a little breeze to dry the top dressing.

We micro cored areas on the 1st, 4th, 6th, 10th, 14th, 16th & 17th, this went as smooth a clockwork and was completed within an hour. It was then back to the shed, micro corer off, verti- drain on, all done before 7am.


Micro core on the left, goes in around 75-100mm. Verti- drain 12mm wide tine, goes in up to 300mm.

So it was off to the 1st green to start the verti draining, this is when the first set back occurred, after just 5 yards!!!

WP_20150316_003[1]This is a link arm that connects and lifts the verti- drain, we think the arm had a previous crack that caused a weak spot, the verti- drain just finished it off!! Thankfully with the help of the mechanic we use we were back up and running within 2 hours.

Day 1 we verti-drained 11 greens with 7 being dressed and drag matted in, the rest of the greens were completed on the Tuesday. Due to there being little rain forecast we even had to get the irrigation system up and running.


Week 1 ended with an application of fertiliser to the greens, a 8-0-16 +2%Mg +4%Fe, this was also irrigated in. In total 12 tonnes of sanded was spread, drag matted then brushed into the greens.

Week 2 was just a straight verti-drain, with all 18 greens being tined on the Monday, all the greens were dressed, drag matted and brushed in on the Tuesday. The pictures below show the 2nd green after being dressed, then drag matted, then brushed.


WP_20150324_007[1]We also used the vibrating rollers on the greens to try to work the sand in, aswel as getting the surface back after all the heavy machines that had been on the greens. Another 12 tonnes was applied during week 2. The irrigation system was again used due to the lack of rain due, this is where our second set back came.

WP_20150325_004[1]We lost pressure and found this leak running down the hill between the 12th & 6th. We need not to have worried with all the rain that has fallen since Saturday we have not needed the irrigation system!

Week 3 started on Monday, we completed all the verti-draining, top dressing and drag matting in on the day because we was aware of a weather front coming in that dropped 17mm of rain. The greens were brushed Tuesday. A further 12 tonnes of sand was applied on Monday.

We knew from the start that we wouldn’t be able to fill all the holes, mainly due to the fact that we are working with a relatively damp surface and not bone dry sand. The objective wasn’t to fill all the holes

The objective before we started on the 16th March was to get 30 tonnes of sand brushed into the holes we would create. In reality we got 36 tonnes on, and that hasn’t come close to filling the holes.

We wanted to micro core at the start of week 3 but this was decided to be put on hold due to the amount of rain we had the previous weekend, since Thurs 26th we have had over 45mm of rain, ideal for washing the sand in but not great for us to regain a flat putting surface.

The greens have started growing slowly after the feed was applied, hope fully the temperatures will raise soon, instead of this Baltic weather we’re currently having. This weekend they will get cut and rolled, this should help in consolidating the surfaces.

The micro coring planned during week 3 will now occur during April. we haven’t set a date yet, but disruption will be minimal. The work on the 7 areas on the greens may even be split up into 2-3 hits.

We’ve collected the weather data going back 10 years now. Last year we bought a soil moisture meter that informs us of the levels in the greens, so we now have a full years data from that to compare against.

The stats tell us that the winter of 2013-14 was wetter than 2014-2015 (Oct-Mar) 2014 was 566mm, with 2015 coming in at 494.5mm.

The moisture levels taken on the 18th green 4/4/2014 were at 63%, this was after a week were 15mm of rain fell. I tested the 18th this morning 2/2/15, the moisture levels were 58.1%, this was after 45mm the previous week. This 5% improvement is a step forward.

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.

Any concerns or opinions on what we are doing please contact us directly on


Mark Shuttleworth

Members reminder

As mentioned in my previous blog the major spring renovation work will begin on Monday 16th March. After discussion with the STRI (Kath Bentley) we have decided against using the Graden sand injection machine this spring, as the greens were slow to take off last season.

It was decided last autumn that we would verti-drain the greens using 12mm tines to a depth of 300mm, then apply around 10 tonnes of sand. This would be done for 3 consecutive weeks.

After studying the greens all winter I feel we need to target the wetter areas that don’t seem to be improving, these are the areas that always get the greens moved on to temp.

So after discussions with Graham (HGK) and Kath it was decided that week 1 we would,

  • Micro tine areas on 1st, 4th, 6th, 10th, 14th, 16th & 17th
  • Followed by verti- drain all greens.
  • Then all dressed and brushed in
  • application of feed 8-0-16 +2%Mg+4%Fe
  • Irrigate

Wk commencing 23rd we will just verti- drain all the greens followed by top dress and brush in.

Wk commencing 30th, just like week 1 but without the feed.

Even though our problem zone is in the top 40mm we are trying to get sand all the way down to 300mm, this will help water get away quicker whilst also working that 40mm.

We are planning on doing the majority of the work on the Monday- Tuesday of that week, during this work temporary greens will be in use. Any disruption will be kept to an absolute minimum.

Unfortunately, during and for a small period after all this work has taken place the greens performance will be below par, this is because some stability will be lost through

  • all the holes we will puncture in the greens
  • all the machinery needed to go on the greens.

We will endeavour to get the surface back as soon as possible. Plans are already in place to make these renovations as successful as possible and we will be in weekly contact with Kath Bentley.

Short term pain for long term gain.

Thanks for reading,

Mark Shuttleworth

Greens update and plan for next month

We have had the best month over the winter period in terms of jobs completed, plan executed and positive feedback from the members.

Firstly we had a meeting on the 3/3/15 with kath Bentley from the S.T.R.I, she was very encouraged from what she saw, both on the course and the plan we have going forward. Her concerns were still on reducing the thatch layer, and thankfully our plan is fully focused on this. Kath has suggested that we target the localised wetter areas on some greens, this was amended to the plan and will go into detail further in this report. She stressed that the removal of thatch is imperative to us moving forward with the putting surfaces.

The greens were hand cut 6 times at 6mm, they were verti drained to 200mm and also penciled tined to 75mm. Twice this month we have been able to get topdressing on the greens, firstly we put a tonne of kiln dried sand on with the fertilizer spreader, this was concentrated on the wetter areas (I.e. Back left 4th), we also got 4 tonnes on with the large dresser. This was done after the verti draining, so hopefully some sand got down deep into the profile.

The 3 drainage jobs that we had started in January were completed, all the drainage channels were turfed.WP_20150114_001[1] WP_20150217_003[1]

Now you see it, now you don’t!!

Thanks for keeping off these areas, all these areas should be back in play before the start of the season.

The greens were sprayed with an insecticide treatment, this was because we saw signs of bird damage on the greens. The birds were pecking the turf in search of ‘leather jackets’. Leather jackets are the larva of Crane flies, they lay their eggs in the turf in late autumn, it was a really bad year for us because of the mild temperatures all autumn/ winter, if you remember back there were hundreds on the clubhouse windows.


They are tiny worm like creatures. The two problems associated with leather jackets are that firstly, they live and feed on the grass roots, causing the turf to struggle and possibly die. Secondly birds hunt them, they peck at the turf, pulling out chunks to get to these pests. As the pictures show the problem should be over!

A third application of Rocastem (Penetrant wetting agent) was applied to the green. I think we are seeing the results of our winter wetting agent programme. Moisture results taken on the 5th of march show that on average the greens are 10% drier than when they were tested last april, hopefully by april they will be closer to 15-20% drier than the previous year.

Plans for this month.

This month is a massive month for us, major aeration work will take place to hopefully reduce the thatch layer in the greens giving us a drier/ firmer surface.

Firstly a 8-0-16 +2%Mg+4%Fe will be applied mid/ late next week. This will get the greens in a healthy state prior the next phase.

We intend to micro-core the wetter areas of some greens first (i.e. front 1st, back left 4th, front 6th etc) areas that are prone to hold water. We will then go over the area with the verti-drain to a depth of 300mm. The greens will then be heavily dressed with 10 tonnes of sand dressing.

The week after we will just verti-drain these areas, followed by the heavy dressing.

The week after that we will go back to what we did in the first week (core, VD, dress).

Unfortunately during this major surgery the greens will suffer slightly, due to use causing the surface to become unstable by taking out thatch. Everything will be done to get the surface back asap, plans are already in place on order of works and what is needed after.

The work will mainly be carried out on mon/tues, giving us plenty of time in the rest of the week to get the surface back. Works like this is essential to the progression of the greens.

Please follow us on twitter @ashtonleagreens, we do daily updates and also put on a few pics of jobs.

Any other enquiries or feedback/ ideas please email us on

Thanks for reading

Mark Shuttleworth

How we complete a drainage task

We’ve identified the problem areas on the greens, then we prioritised them into what needs to be done first. Once we’d completed the worst two areas (1st green, 13th approach) we moved onto the 3rd green, the very front portion.


The front part of the green was a problem area, causing the green to be off many times due to holding onto moisture. The plan was to install over 50m of pipe, a drain running around the front then off down the hill to be collected in a carry away drain beside the 4th green, a lateral from on the green would also run into the system.

The way we complete the task is a little different than you would in your back garden due to the quality of the materials we use. We use a 2 tier system, where we have 6mm stone placed over the pipe with rootzone then placed directly onto the drainage stone. The way you would carry out the task in your garden would be to use 10-20mm limestone, then place a membrane to stop the soil migrating into the stone.


The drains are 600mm deep (all hand dug!), the pipe is 100mm.


The pipe is installed then the 6mm drainage stone is placed up to 300mm from the surface. Rootzone is then placed on top of the drainage stone to within mm’s of the surface, this allows up to place turf taken from the 7th nursery green on to the new trenches.

We did exactly the same on the 1st & 13th. We are hoping to complete small tasks on the 4th & 10th green to improve the putting surfaces.


Mark Shuttleworth

Greens update December- January

Greens update December- January
Having given you an email to outline my intentions for the greens this winter I will go through what we have been able to complete.
Aeration is the biggest task we have over winter, to keep the surface open to allow water to get through the soil profile as quickly as possible. We completed 5 aeration procedures during November. In December and January we’ve only been able to aerate 3 times due to weather being too wet (Dec 106.5mm, Jan 87+).
We decided to try put small amounts of dressing on the greens in both months, this hasn’t been possible due to the weather, although we may have thought of a way to get round this by applying it with the walk behind spreader.
The greens had a feed put on mid Dec, a 3-0-14 was applied. This got the greens looking really good, and there are still in decent shape. Another feed will be applied next week. We was hoping to apply some liquid iron mid Jan, this was not possible due to frost.
Unfortunately due to the mainly mild winter we have had, fusarium has been present on quite a few of the putting surfaces. We have spot treated twice, due to not being able to get out with the big sprayer. We spotted new signs last Friday after the greens had thawed out, it was decided by Graham and I that we would come in and spray on the Sunday morning as the only window we had was then. We will be monitoring this throughout the rest of the winter. Liquid iron will now be applied mid Feb, this will help harden up the plant whilst also giving us good colour to the sward.
Two application of a penetrant wetting agent have also been applied, we were of hoping to have applied one more by now but this hasn’t been possible. This will happen next week if the wind isn’t too strong.
Rolling the greens stopped at the beginning of December due to the moisture levels becoming too high. We will start rolling the surface when conditions allow. 
As we speak we have dug and back filled two drainage areas on the 1st & 13th greens. These were always problem areas so we have installed 100mm pipe at depths of 750-600mm. We have started to install a similar system to the 3rd green. We are also going to hopefully look into the problems on the 4th & 10th.
Proposed plan of works up to may 2015
·         Aerate (when possible)
·         Cut (weekly)
·         Apply feed (early feb)
·         Apply liquid iron (mid-late feb)
·         Apply penetrant wetting agent (early feb)
·         Aerate (when possible)
·         Cut (weekly)
·         Apply 8-0-16 +2%Mg + 4%Fe (mid march)
·         Start verti- drain 23rd & 30th followed by top dressing
·         Last verti- drain 7th followed by dressing. We may also micro core some wetter areas of the greens when we carry out the verti drain, areas like front 1st, front 3rd, left 4th, front 5th, front 6th, 10th etc.
·         Start summer wetting agent programme.
·         Start aeration programme of every other week followed by light dressing (start 13th)
·         Apply feed (last week)
All of the above is affected by weather, hopefully we will be able to complete all of the above, if not we prioritise the ‘must do’ tasks.
Please follow us on twitter @ashtonleagreens , we give daily course reports and sometimes put pictures on of jobs we’ve completed.
If you have any queries of any of the above please email us on
Mark Shuttleworth

Small drainage work on the greens

Drainage work on the greens,


We have started on a drainage plan to improve certain greens this week.  The first job was to install a new drain to the front of the 1st green,


This is a 100mm perforated pipe, installed to the depth of 600-750mm. It’s been covered with 6mm stone up to 300mm of the surface, rootzone will then be used with new greens turf being laid.

We feel this should solve the problem at the front of the green, we can always run more drains into this large drain in the future if needed.

Next week we are going to start the challenge which is the 13th approach. This is the reason why the green has been off so often in the last few weeks

My plan is to install one main drain with 4 laterals running into it, this will hopefully catch the water before it gets onto the green, and also firm up the area.

We are also going to shape the ground so it helps us direct the water where we want it to go, the main issue we will have on this job is the amount of fall. Unfortunately the drains in the greens are not that deep.

We are going to install a similar system to the 1st green on the 3rd green

The two other greens I am going to focus on are the areas on the 4th & 10th. On the 4th we will dig down on the problem area in the middle of the green exposing the drain that is there, replace the drainage stone, replace the rootzone and trim the turf of thatch.

On the 10th the target areas will be the middle portions on either side. The plan is to bore down with a post borer as deep as it will go, backfill with stone then top up with rootzone, the turf will be re-laid with the majority of the thatch removed.

I have plans to do a short term and long term report on the greens in the near future that I will email out, it will explain what has been done so far, and what we haven’t been able to do and why.

If you have any feedback please e-mail us at

Also please follow us on twitter at @ashtonleagreen

Greens info @ Ashton & Lea G.C