August 2023 (Click to Expand)
This month I have had to keep the greens report to a minimum as time has been hard to come by. The weather again over last month has caused disruption to both course preparation and competition golf. Looking back on last years’ facts and figures, what a contrast for the month of July in comparison from 2022 to 2023.
We had Durham County Men here, and due to the weather the tournament was played over 18 holes rather than 36. In all fairness they did well to get it played, as on the day it rained from first thing. So I’d like to thank the lads which allowed the day to go ahead in such terrible conditions.
Also, it has been an extremely hard month work wise as we have been a member of staff down due to illness, this has meant we have had to change work programmes and procedures and prioritise what we can. The tee banksides and ditches are what we have had to cut back on to save time,
whereas greens, tees and general “in play” areas have been concentrated on. We have been slowly chipping away at these areas and hope it hasn’t caused too much disruption to play, but we will be back on top of things soon. Then to add another blow, a second member of staff fell ill which resulted in us being left with a team of 2 members of staff for a week, which I’m sure you’ll all agree is just impossible, thankfully next week we’ll be back to a full squad (fingers crossed).
Even in such testing times we have still managed to complete our monthly aeration, feed of liquid nitrogen and seaweed along with bio stimulants and wetting agent programme to both greens and tees.
We have also trimmed around tee marker discs, pop up sprinklers, tidied and edged all the railway sleeper steps. We have weeded, edged and rotavated the bunker but with last weekends’ rain, the bunkers will need another seeing too!
I have in preparation for our maintenance week, ordered 40 tonne of Messingham Moist 35 top dressing, which is due to arrive Thursday and Friday this week. I have ordered a new set of 5/8th solid tines for the greens and I have arranged the hire a Sisis TM1000 deep scarification machine.
We have never done this process with TM1000 but I feel it will remove an amazing amount of top thatch, along with lateral lineal thinning out of course grasses, along with moss reduction. I’m looking forward to the results as I feel it will be extremely beneficial. Our thatch-away units cut at a depth of 5mm maximum and I’m currently running them at 3mm. The TM1000 for this year we will run at 25mm. Benny the owner of the machine had a site visit last week and has reassured me that for this first time this will be sufficient (it has the potential to go as deep as 100mm).
Once again, this month we have had several breakdowns on our ageing fleet of machines. The worst
of which was an oil leak on our John Deere 2653b tees mower. It split a hydraulic hose pipe and damaged 4 tees (1st, 18th, 2nd and 17th). Within 30 mins of the leak, I had watered down with wetting agent, hollow cored the effected tees, dressed with soil and over seeded. I then fed the tees and luckily they have recovered really well and visually the damage was kept to a minimum. I’m aware accidents happen but when things fail, we need to spot the problem quicker than we did. I’ve had a word with all the staff to make them aware that they need to be fully conscious of their surroundings and to always be vigilant while mowing. These kind of accidents need to be minimised!
A couple of things to finish off. Firstly, I’d like to congratulate John Kennedy on winning the Tully Cup and also to congratulate Club Captain Paul Newton and the Team for an exciting season. Was such a shame to be pipped at the post in the final 2 weeks, especially after topping the table for the majority of the season. Great effort by all involved and hopefully still some silverware to compete for, for the rest of the season. I would also like to thank the club and Directors for their continued support
June 2023 (Click to Expand)
Since the last report it really has been a game of two halves! We were unable to cut certain areas due to how wet things still were from the deluge that fell in March and then topped up another 103mm the following month to take us into May, The last rain we encountered was on Friday 5th May, at a rate of 19mm in a 20 min burst but since then we have had nothing for 45days.
This dry period had allowed us to more or less get everything cut on a regular basis, which tidied the course right up. Everything from tee banks sides, green banksides, fairways and especially semirough. We have had issues with our X740 compact tractor in several ways, firstly we had a hydraulic failure which John Deere couldn’t find the parts on their system as ours was the very first off the production line 15 years ago and since then modifications had taken place rendering ours non-existent. I managed to get Rickerbys to copy and manufacture us the offending hoses, Now the failure occurred due to the main chassis snapping, which has now been strengthened and fabricated. This breakdown was why the copses were not able to be done. I had to, where possible, slalom the 2tonne semi rough machine through the areas that I could and then fixed up an old wheel rotary hand mower for us to do the rest. I’m pleased to inform you all that we now have the X740 back and in full working order.
Now the other side, the greens have suffered with the extremely dry, hot and baking weather, the irrigation has been running on the greens flat out for the last 21 days along with hand watering first thing on a morning and then again on a night before it starts automatically. Wetting agent tablets have been added to the water tank, this allows a distribution and application through the sprinkler heads. We equally have a hand applicator and tablets that fit on our hose and we have applied daily. I have continued to sarel roll the greens to “prick” the surface to allow water to penetrate into the profile.
After last weeks’ home team game, I followed the team around with the groundsman tractor mounted spiker, fitted with 10mm tines at a depth of 50mm, again to help the water penetrate into the soil profile. I will continue to carry out these processes to fight against the dry patch and pray for some natural rain to aid the situation. I have also been around and altered the distribution arcs on the sprinkler heads where needed to make them more efficient, replaced a full head back left 14th and oversized the delivery nozzles on several heads, again to increase water delivery, as well as increase water delivery times. A new valve assembly for the irrigation has now been fitted at 7th green. Upon recommission of the system it flagged as a leak. When they turned on in April the box went very wet again in a week, but again the weather was very wet also. I did however isolate that leg of the system and it did dry out, confirming a leaking valve and watering point. This valve was an original from 1988 so it was sensible to renew it.
Again, it would be helpful if buggies didn’t drive over the green box lids. This is another reason why we white line the greens, firstly is to promote a nice lie if you miss a green and secondly to keep traffic away from the hydrant boxes which are all situated at the back of every green. If a box flexes and breaks a valve, then this will disable the irrigation system until its repaired (generally £800 per valve) and financially plus practicality I can’t afford that and it’s a worry, especially this time of year when we rely on a working irrigation systemIan mentioned that the sand in the bunkers was too deep, the dry weather has made them all “snuff dry”. We have since removed 2 loads from the 11th and topped up 14th and then removed 1 load from 15 and topped up 14th. The remaining sand we will top up,7th,17th and the two bunkers at 1st.
As soon as weather allows, this week I intend to apply more wetting agent through the tractor mounted sprayer, this is way more effective than the irrigation as it can target the areas more effectively and apply our monthly application of seaweed and an application of “ ICL Stress Buster “ to aid with the recovery process.
May 2023 (Click to Expand)
The last month has posed many challenges for a day in the life of a greenkeeper but this has not only affected us as a club, but for many other clubs around our area. In comparison to 2022:
2022 – 41mm – 0days Course Closed – 3days Buggies Off
2023 – 109mm – 0days Course Closed – 14days Buggies Of
Our general day to day tasks of Spring cutting and preparation has been badly affected due to the poor British weather, again being so wet, resulting in machinery being rendered useless. I would just like to stress, as a team we are doing our upmost to prepare the course as best we can, considering the conditions.
We have managed to get the first cuts on most areas of the course, where possible but I’m sure you are all aware that other areas have had to be left as its been impossible to cut. All the fairways have been mown, most have had 2 or 3 cuts and have tidied up quite well. Other fairways, for example 10th and 13th have only had one cut and will be cut as soon as conditions allow. All the fairways have had at least 3 perimeter cuts of semi-rough where possible and other areas have been completely cut, again where the ground conditions allow.
The green banksides have all be cut and flymo’d twice and we have completed tidying 13 sets of tee banksides with the rest to completed again when ground conditions allow. We at Consett have a
huge disadvantage to other clubs in the respect that all 18 greens and tees are elevated and require the majority to be hand cut. With such severe banks and so wet underfoot, this is a huge health and safety issue for slipping and causing injuries. Therefore it is a serious decision on when to carry out the tasks. Hopefully over the next couple of weeks things will start to dry out and we will be where we want to be! Fingers crossed.
The front of the clubhouse, overflow car park and flag pole banksides have also been tidied along with edging the patio. We ordered turf in to complete the bunker faces at 6th, 11th, and 15th. The face on 15th was filled in and turfed from top to bottom. This has all been carried out and the remaining turf was used to continue repairing the drain line at the 3rd and 16th greens and some patching around the course like 3rd and 9th tee.
With the wet and warm weather, this has made the turf root very quick and start to establish itself. We can now fill those 3 bunkers with new sand, exactly like we have done at the 6th left side bunker.
It was brought to my attention that the steps at 11th tee were extremely slippy and dangerous. Ian Gregerson and Fraser McEwan had both earlier in the year kindly donated off cuts of astro turf they had left over from jobs in their gardens and we have covered most of the steps around the course to prevent any accidents. Thank you to them for the donation.
The drain that we put in the 5th green last year and left a false cap on as a plug to drain large volumes of water has now been removed and filled in. Now the turf is established we will be able to continually spike it, allowing the green to continue to drain into the profile. Obviously with removing the plug hole, the water has to now percolate through the profile of soil to drain, therefore it will take longer. But as previously mentioned, with continual aeration and dressings with sand it
will become more efficient.
Finally, we gave the 10th green an initial hollow core at a depth of 4 inches and over seeded, and applied approximately 2 tonne of top dressing. After a week I decided to then give it another
shallow hollow core at 2 inches and also ran the thatch-away units across it and gave another dressing, approximately 1tonne. Once the sand was brushed in washed it within 7 days the seed was
starting to germinate. Its currently showing great signs of recovery and is being cut regularly. Now the sand has worked into the profile, I have had the spring regrind done on the greens machine and lowered the height of cut to 4mm. Over the next few weeks with the application of fertiliser and hopefully warmer weather we will start to reduce the height fractionally until we meet our desired height.
Once again can I thank the Directors and the members for their support and understanding in what
can only be described as the wettest spring since 2012. Thank you.
April 2023 (Click to Expand)
Since the last greens report the weather has been less than helpful. With cold temperatures, early frost and rain most days it has made what was a wet course, absolutely saturated in some areas. The greens have taken the water extremely well considering the extent of the weather. I have kept records on file of monthly rainfall, course closures and buggies since I returned in 2017. This gives me a comparison from year to year to see if the work we are carrying out is being beneficial by reducing closures and increasing buggy usage on an average year, but sometimes like 2012 we have extreme weather. To give the Directors a comparison here are the figures from March 2022 and March 2023.
2022 – 62mm – 1.5days Course Closed – 12days Buggies Off
2023 – 149mm – 4days Course Closed – 24 days Buggies Off
Even with the bad weather we have managed to spray greens with a liquid feed and iron, we have also applied another application of wetting agent to the greens and also the tees. I elected to put a liquid on the greens due to the cold temperatures and the uptake of a liquid is almost immediate. I applied this to bridge the gap between now and the application of our spring granular as the greens required a “pick-me up “ This was carried out due to the fact that a granular would be wasted with the frosts and to spray all 18 greens with what we used is about £180 as opposed to granular feed of £680, this is why I need to get my timings right to be cost effective.
With some old liquid feeds, I also sprayed the worn off walked areas, along with the intermediate areas around the greens, to help recovery when spring eventually arrives, and also to use up some old stock I inherited. I have also utilised the weather, looking ahead to next week the forecast is to warm up and stay dry. I have applied the tees fertiliser while it was damp this week and later the same day we had showers that will have broken the fertiliser down and hopefully the warmth will “fire it” away.
As I mentioned in my last report I had some soil samples taken to compare with samples I had done in 2021. The samples in 2021 showed us where we were deficient in some areas and excessive in
others. This allows me to make a plan to reduce the high content elements and increase the lower elements to achieve a balanced programme. With the results I can manage my products to get the
correct product to keep the plant and soil within the required levels. The recent samples have proved that the areas I need to increase are working but has also flagged up new deficiencies to
address this season. I have a copy of the results that I will pass onto the Directors if they wish to have a look.
Again, I mentioned last month that the filters for servicing the machines had arrived. I have now worked my way through the machines, changing oil, air, hydraulic filters on all machines, fresh oil and fully greased. I have replaced several new rolling bearings on the two John Deere 2653b tees machine and intermediate machine. A full new roller assembly is £400 and we required x 2, but buying the parts separate and rebuilding them ourselves cost us just over £200 for both and my time (in total about 4hrs).
On the course we have managed to start cutting greens twice a week when possible, cutting the tees once a week and this week we have managed to top off the intermediate around the greens for the first time. Once things start to dry out we will increase the frequency and start to lower cuts slightly. We have installed the hollow corer onto the Ford 1920 and will hollow core, over seed and dress the 10th green.
We also had a price to remove the tree stumps at a cost of £350 a day. The work to be carried out was estimated to be definitely 2 days possibly 3 as the company quoted about 35 trees a day. We had over 70 stumps to remove at a potential cost of £700+vat for 2 days. I managed to source and price a stumper from easy hire in Consett at a cost of £200+vat for a full week (5 days). This proved to be fantastic and we removed over 85 stumps. The stump holes have also now been filled with old hollow core material, seeded and levelled.
While the weather has made things difficult on the course it has allowed me to update product data sheets with regards to H&S and C.O.S.H.H. After paying a visit to Turfcare I was told that they had just had a visit from H&S regarding storage of chemicals and fertilisers, along with waste management of chemical containers. We as a club are up to date and always have been with Waste Management Disposal, spray log books and chemical storage, but it was good to have a good check to make sure everything was in place and the products and empties were stored correctly.
Finally, on the course, all the bunkers have now been rotavated, edged and re-shaped. The old sand from the two bunkers at the 6th has been used to dress wet areas around the course. The sand from the 11th right side bunker has been used up the left side of the 11th bunker, the 13th bunker and right side 14th bunker. The bunker sand that was ordered on 13th March, finally arrived at 6pm on 12th April.
March 2023 (Click to Expand)
Since my February report we have had a mixed bag of weather, from warm sunny days, hard frosts, high winds and snow fall.
The high winds resulted in a couple of trees blowing down amongst the avenue on 3rd and 4th semi rough. These were just two small 20ft trees that we chopped up and disposed off due to the nature of them. We have continued to work towards the allocated allowance of trees to meet our quota with regards the Forestry Commission plan and have only 7 trees left to remove between 7th and 9th fairways.
We have been dropping off onto this work while the weather has been bad and the course is closed as it’s a dangerous area to work when golf is operational, therefore when the course is closed we can work safely and effectively. Over the last two to three weeks while weather hampered us, we have also been processing split logs in preparation for next year and have cleared an area inside the main machinery shed to store them and allow them to dry.
After speaking with Ian, the beech tree at the start of the 12th avenue that was marked to be removed last year, was trimmed back to try and save it as it was decaying. After monitoring it last year and then into this year it was showing severe signs of disease and rot. It was decided that we had tried our best to prolong and preserve the tree but now the time had come to remove it. This was carried out last week during the snowfall and the tree was felled safely and the majority of smaller limbs and branches were burnt on site, the remainder of the trunk was cut up, split and taken off site.
All the new tee markers that we cut, dried out, nailed have now all had the bodies stained with two coats of Ronseal and the end facias double coated in either white, red and yellow and are ready to be put out at the start of the new playing season. All the course furniture is now completed with the same stain, but some seats as I reported last month needed a bit of attention to repair them. So far we have only lost one seat completely but that has been replaced with a seat purchased in remembrance of Mr. Gary Amos through his friends. The seats as they have been completed have been put back onto the course as we’ve completed them.
A friend of mine Mr Kevin McArdle who has his own landscape and fencing company had 20 rolls of left over turf. He kindly dropped it off for us free of charge. After we had re-installed the new pipe at the 3rd green we back filled with gravel and root zone and intended to over seed it. During this time the rabbits have had a field day scratching out the root zone. With the turf Kevin provided, I decided that we would turf the whole drain line, as far as we could from the front to the back of the green. This has tidied up the area massively and will knit in far much quicker than the intended seed. The 20 rolls got us the full length of the approach and the out of play areas we will seed, preseason.
All the bunkers have been edged and shaped with the half-moon turfing iron and long handled shears. The top bunkers have been rotavated but due to hard frosts the bottom bunkers were just edged and tidied. There are several bunkers that needed more work and reshaping. Again after my last meeting with Ian we agreed that the two bunkers on the 6th be re-shaped.
The left one was to be made a better shape in the bottom and slightly larger and the right side one to reshape the bottom and to lose “the eyebrow “from the top. Both these are now done and just require a little landscape and fresh sand. We also agreed that the 15th over hang be removed and the face turfed, this has been shaped and the face requires backfill when weather allows, but will keep original sand. The 11th right side bunker is to dig out and the sand be used to top up left green side bunker and replace the right side bunker with new, as last season we temporarily topped it.The right side 14th bunker lip was to reshape to try and deflect the water from washing the bunker out. This channel has been lifted so now the water will be diverted away from the bunker, this will also be topped up pre-season. The new sand is ordered and will be literally the last thing to do. This way with the bad weather the sand will be fresh and not contaminated with all the bad weather we are having and will be fresh for the start of the season.
I ordered all the oil and fuel filters for the machines last month and they arrived at the start of this month. I’m currently working my way through the machines, changing filters, greasing units and frames and repairing any faults I notice along the way in preparation of the season.
Along with this work we have continued to clean car park of leaves, grit car park and pathways when needed, change holes, rake bunkers, dress wet areas with sand, move ropes to spread wear. We have cut tees and approaches when possible and also greens. The team and myself are also taking the remaining days of our annual holiday allowance before the end of this month. Jeff and Jack have had there full allowance, Colin is off next week and I’m off the last week of March which will complete 2022/23 holidays.
Finally an incident occurred on Tuesday 7th March, a senior member, Mr J. Lamont slipped while approaching the 18th green and fell. Although he was fine, albeit a little shaken he was helped up by his playing partners and completed his round. I was approached by Mr Lamont minutes later in the car park as I had been fitting a new toilet lock in the male toilets. Mr Lamont explained what had happened and said it was extremely dangerous. I pointed out and tried to explain to Mr Lamont that we would hoop the area and dress it with sand, as we have done other areas to help access. I also explained that at 9.30 when the seniors teed off the ground was white frost and hard. By 1pm when they were completing their round the sun was now out and the frost had thawed. I explained we can try and direct golfers as best as we can, with roped areas, signage but the players themselves have to be vigilant and have a certain degree of mindfulness regarding changing ground conditions and take appropriate action, if required. Following that I explained the only other possibility is to close the course when it’s wet.
If this was the result over the winter we would never be open. We as a club and staff monitor the course daily and move ropes when needed, sand wet areas and try and provide a service that the members pay for, we understand and take seriously the duty of care regarding to members safety, but they equally need to take some responsibility.. If they feel they are at risk, walk off and bring to the attention of the club.
Hope this can shed a bit light on the situation and the controls we use over what is tricky ground conditions over the winter months
February 2023 (Click to Expand)
Now that January is out the way, we are another month nearer to the season. The weather hasn’tbeen too bad as we eased into February. Day time temperatures have been hanging around late single and early double figures which has allowed us to do a little early preparation.
With the weather being as it was we have continued to apply seaweed to the greens but we have also managed to apply a liquid feed, an application of liquid iron and also a half rate application of some left over granulated fertiliser from the end of last season, a proper autumn winter analysis.
We have repositioned some roped off areas, spread root zone, over seeded and fertilised walk off areas with old left over fertiliser in hope that with the current conditions of warm and damp that maybe we gain some early germination, if not there is nothing lost as the root zone and fertiliser will boost recovery when we do have some growth and we will continue to seed in early spring.
Once we had applied our liquid products the sprayer was removed from the tractor and the Verdidrain was installed. The verti-drain was set a depth of 8-9 inches and over 3-4 days all the greens were aerated, I started on 10th green as it is probably the wettest green and on the final day of aeration I returned to 10 to give it a double spike. The process has gone extremely well and will help with water passing through the soil profile and create new areas for spring time root structure and development.
We have been able to get buggies back on with the ground conditions being substantially drier, which when the course signage and buggy rules are followed allows safe passage around the course, this is still monitored on a daily basis. While this work on the greens of spraying and aeration was being carried out, the staff were continuing to tidy up the course by trimming lower limbs throughout the copses, trimming back gorse bushes in overflow car park, chipping and weeding the path edges at 5th, 6th,7th,8th,9th,10th,16th and 17th. Upon the completion of these paths the final result in my opinion looked really good. We still have small areas to complete but these will be carried out over the following week.
We have also power brushed the tees to remove worm casts and have cut the tees 3 times in the last 3 weeks to tidy them in preparation for spring fertiliser. We have also brushed the greens after the verti drain and cut twice at a height of 4.5mm and also cut once round the approaches.
We needed to replace two irrigation valve assemblies to allow automatic irrigation to be successful, one was 4th green 5th tee and the second was 9th green 10th tee. Both these valves were dug out and A.V Irrigation have renewed both valves and we have now back filled and reinstated the areas.
As you are all probably aware Ian and myself try to meet up and have a course inspection every 6-8 weeks to see what has gone on, plan future work and to bounce ideas against one another to
improve the course. Well we had such inspection last Saturday and we both agreed that at the end of this season we should plan and look into draining the 10th green. What I will do is plan and price up what I feel would be the best options. It won’t be a full green rebuild as it was levelled in early 90’s it just simply needs some herringbone drainage installed and connected to existing drain system from 15th. I will over the next 6-8 document my plans and forward them to the directors.
Finally I have spoken to Ian this weekend about the state of the course furniture. We brought the seats in to dry out in October and rubbed them all down. We have started to stain them, but have found several are rotting, rotting that badly that the wood is crumbling away. A few years ago ( while I was at Slaley ) Malcolm Allison repaired several seats, about 2 years ago we had to discard a couple as they were unrepairable, after asking Malcolm was their anything we could do. A lot of the seats that are rotting are all over 30 years old and I feel the families may have no connection to the club any more. What I propose is to manufacture like a “perch bench” to lean against with a small railway sleeper top. Then we can remove the original name plates and fix them to the new bench. Not many people at all sit on the seats we have, but to remove them would not be an option without replacing them and to replace a wooden seat comes at a cost of £200 upwards depending on quality. I have priced up for the wood alone and for just less than £100 I can manufacture 4 what I call perch benches. These will be 120cm in length, 75cm in height, the top comes in 2 options, first option 9in x 2 in or 6in x 2 in.
9 x 2 ( 4.8m length ) = £60….. this will give us 4 tops
6 x 2 ( 4.8m length ) = £26….. this will give us 4 tops
8ft 3 x 3 posts halved will give both legs = £9 per bench
I will get a diagram drawn up and get a copy for the directors to be able to visualise for the meeting
January 2023 (Click to Expand)
Firstly I’d like to take a moment to wish the Directors, members and all the staff of Consett & District Golf Club a happy, prosperous and healthy New Year. Let’s hope 2023 is a good season for us all.
Leading up to Christmas there were a few jobs that we wanted to tie up for over the festive period and also prepare for others between Christmas and New Year.
One of my main priorities was to try and spray the greens, the frosts and snow had put pay to this but the mild spell leading up to Christmas week couldn’t have come at a better time. We managed to spray with Stress Buster and seaweed, we still need to spray some liquid iron at our first next opportunity.
I also wanted all the machines cleaned down, degreased and pressure washed down in preparation for the winter servicing programme. All Flymo’s and strimmers plus hand tools have been cleaned.
As mentioned in last months’ report we had cleared all the damaged trees to the rear of the fourth tee apart from one which is leaning badly, but this will be removed in the coming week. I also mentioned Phase One of our felling licence was near completion at the 7th and 9th and this is continuing at present ( 8 trees remain to be felled and 2 pruned ) to work within our dead line for the end of the month and then Phase Two will commence end of Jan to April. Currently with the annualised hours, January we are on a 6 hour day to compensate for our extra 9 hr days throughout September which should be an 8 hour day.
The drain at the 3rd has been left open to ensure we have no problems before we back fill the ditch and lay the new pipe. We have extended the ditch further than we initially intended due to the amount of gravel stuck in the pipe. We originally had dug out 15 meters by hand then extended it to 25meters when we saw the amount of debris in the pipe. I kept it to 25m as normally a roll of pipe is 25m, but 6inch pipe comes in a 50m roll so we have now extended the ditch the full length of the green, hopefully this will result in no further issues. The new pipe has been installed and backfilling is nearly complete, we have a wiring connection to finish and the test holes to fill. This will be completed totally this week.
Between Christmas and New Year while the staff were on holiday I managed to get all the fairways deep tine slit with our tractor mounted sisis slitter. Some heavy traffic areas in the semi rough and roped areas were also slit to a depth of about 8-10inches. This continued aeration work on the fairways over the last several years is now showing signs of continued improvement especially in the drainage of surface water.
We are still continuing with our day to day duties of blowing leaves, dewi greens, raking bunkers, moving ropes, sanding wet and worn areas, along with changing holes and gritting car parks and steps when need.
As you are all aware the path from the buggy rank to Jack Temperley Memorial stone was completed in December as a “tester “ due to the cold, frosty, wintery weather. The company returned the following day and confirmed it was too cold to continue and would look at returning in the New Year. I didn’t hold much hope, as we all know the weather can be brutal in Consett during the winter months. Being nearly1000ft above sea level and north facing does us very few favours, but luckily a mild spell hit us and the path installers arrived on Wednesday 4th Jan. The weather couldn’t have been better. They started at the starters hut and worked back towards the clubhouse,
by the end of day one they were at the driving net. Thursday we transported the materials to them and by the end of the day they were at the flag pole. Friday was a case of starting at the 18th green and working back to the junction at Temperley stone and connecting all the junctions. Again we transported the materials to the site and by 4pm on Friday the path was completed. It was cordoned off over the weekend to allow the resin to set properly. It was agreed that single seaters were to be taken off on Thursday and Friday again to allow the surface to cure properly, but then on Saturday single seater buggies were reinstated. The finished path looks really good I’m sure you’ll all agree.
One final thing I’d like to bring to the attention of the Directors and members, we seem to have a lot of divots appearing on the fairways, can I remind people that winter fairway mats are in use or pick up and play from the semi-rough. Also playing from winter tee mats is not optional, yet again some members feel that it is acceptable to tee up on the grass at the 6th instead of using the mat provided! Could I please ask members to adhere to the Winter Playing rules and refrain from causing unnecessary damage to the course, especially when grass recovery at this time of year is ZERO !
December 2022 (Click to Expand)
With the heavy rain and the snow that we have encountered over the last couple of weeks it has given us a bit of time to catch up tidying the main shed and to start cleaning the machinery down in preparation for their winter servicing.
While we were burning the rubbish we also noticed the “ boiler room “ at the clubhouse was in a disgusting state and was like a dumping ground and posed quite a few issues regarding health and safety. There were tins of paint, thinners, wood stain and multiple flammables, not only that but with Joanne having to pressurise the boiler on a daily basis she was having to clamber over a jet washer, hoses and garden tools. It has now been completely emptied and access is easy with no hazards.
The pitfalls on 12th and 13th have now been completed and the Coal Board have been sent all the relevant information regarding the repairs for them to then release the funds upon completion.
We have brought in all the course furniture and washed it all down in preparation for staining and repairs. We have also had a delivery from Harelaw sawmill with the 6ft x 3in round posts to make 108 new tee markers for the start of the new season. These posts are drying out and will be completed over the next few weeks.
After digging the 1st and 18th path out in preparation for the laying of the new path it was discovered that we needed to do a few more alterations. These alterations were discovered after the digger we hired had gone back. I contacted Paddy ( ACE Engineering ) and we managed to borrow their digger for 2 days, free of charge to allow work to commence on time. All the gravel and hardcore that was removed was spread out on the road behind the clubhouse that connects the main car park to the overflow car park. Once it was levelled we used our “ wacker plate “to consolidate the surface and it has proved to be a great quick fix at minimal cost.
After storm Arwen last year we managed the best we could to tidy up the devastation that was caused. All the loose and dangerous trees were removed and fallen limbs chopped up. Some of the trees that had snapped in half were left standing as they posed no safety issues until we could get them removed. Over the last 2 weeks we have completely tidied the rear of the 4th tee that was badly damaged, all the snapped trees in question have been removed ( tree No.30-44 )
We have also started part of our forestry plan and thinning of health wood between 7th and 9th fairway. Due to our quoter we can take an average of 13 trees a quarter and with the work we have done we have 9 more trees to fell before end of January and then “phase two” will take us to April.
Finally I’d like to thank the Directors for their continued support. As we all know at times it can be a thankless task and you all give your personal time to the well-being of the Golf Club and to support myself and the staff which is much appreciated. Can I take this opportunity to wish you all and the members a very Merry Christmas and a healthy, happy New Year
October 2022 (Click to Expand)
Last month hasn’t really seen much change from the previous months regarding different work, the priority has been to keep the course tidy as we come to the end of competition golf. We have started to raise the height of cut ever so slightly on the greens and will continue to do so over the coming 4- 6 weeks depending on the weather, until we get to our desired winter height of 5mm. The reason is to get as much healthy grass coverage on the greens to help protect them over the coming colder months where we get no recovery due to shorter, colder and frosty days.
Following our ‘ hollow coring ‘ the results have been great with very little disruption. We have continued to sarel roll the greens on a monthly basis and this will continue throughout the winter months when weather allows.
I have applied another application of wetting agent and seaweed, again this will continue throughout the winter months on a monthly basis when weather allows.
Following the application of ‘wetter’ I applied a winter stress buster liquid which has had a great effect and result on the green. Our autumn/winter granular fertiliser was delivered last week and will be applied next week.
I hope that over the next 10 days we will get all the semi rough and fairways cut which will probably be the last full cut of the year, areas will be monitored and cut accordingly if and when needed.
Since the last meeting I have identified and done a full report for our tree felling programme, I have number tagged the trees and logged them in species and approximate cubic meter for Phase 1 of our plan. If anyone wishes to see this report please just ask.
Turfcare had borrowed our hollow corer and in return I borrowed their Harvey Auto rake. As we all know our 15th tee is pretty poor regards grass coverage and ground levels. Before Turfcare borrowed our hollow corer I double passed the 15th and removed the cores. With Turfcare’s machine I have ripped the top surface off and used it to grade the tee level as best we could, we will add some divot mix and rake it level as best as we can as a quick fix and over seed it. It will be interesting to see the results as we have nothing to lose!
The wet area at the first fairway next to the 150yd marker has now been fixed. We were not sure of the source of water as that area has been a problem area ever since I joined as a junior member in 1987. All we think it can be is a natural spring. Anyway we have unearthed an existing drainage network that was installed in 1998 and uncovered the pipe. We cleaned off the plastic pipe and put 50 litres of water in to ensure the system was working correctly. Within minutes the water was flowing into the drainage ditch at the ‘holly bush’ 3rd open ditch. So we have dug out by hand across the 1st fairway and tapped into the existing system and connected with a Y-joint. We have piped, backfilled with gravel and topped the drain line up with hollow cores and over seeded. I’m quietly confident that this will rectify the issue for good.
As I’m sure you’re all aware we sustained a couple of acts of vandalism recently. First incident they attacked the 7th green badly, gouging out several old hole change cores, smashed bunker rake teeth into the putting surface until they broke, then with the hollow handle proceeded to use the hollow handle to stab 100+ holes. They destroyed the flag pole, pinched all the markers from 8th tee, 9th tee and 13th tee. They also removed and threw down the back of the tee the nice anodised tee marker with the hole lay out on. It was repaired as best I could on the Saturday and we rectified it properly on the Monday. Then sadly the following Tuesday/Wednesday they did the same to the 11th but not quite on the same scale. Again we repaired that immediately and put the ‘ thatch-away ‘ units over the greens to assist in recovery of the damage. With doing this and then the liquid fertiliser I mentioned earlier the damage is hard to see. For the last couple of weeks I have drove down on a night. The Police were informed but were not sure to what extent they can do. For the last couple of weeks on a Friday and Saturday night I have sat down the 8th hoping to deter or catch them, luckily nothing has occurred.
I have also phoned A.V Irrigation to get a system close down for the winter. They have given us a provisional date of Thursday 27th October, I also mentioned to them that we had reported the 18th valve assembly has a leak on ever since they replaced it in 2020. We will dig that out for them to inspect while here.
Finally we had a demo of the new Kubota RTV at the start of the month, we had it for 2 days and it was a great success. This wasn’t a surprise as we have had 2 previous RTV machines. Our current machine is 10 years old and was in need of replacing. Luckily we managed to secure the machine and took delivery of it on Thursday evening. I would like to thank the Directors for the investment into the course and machines, it is much appreciated and needed to continue moving forward.
September 2022 (Click to Expand)
September has been another extremely busy month. We have continued to try and keep on top of cutting and to keep the course as well presented as possible.
We have continued to keep up with our monthly feed, pencil tining and wetting agent programme on the greens in-line with our annual maintenance plan. I plan for 5 applications which started in May with the first application and ending in September.
While some areas of the course have been burnt off due to the months of drought conditions, this has saved us some time on cutting and more so saved us diesel. We have taken this opportunity to catch up on some pruning and tidying up jobs. On the left side of 7th fairway there was a hawthorn choked up with ivy and leaning at a dangerous angle, for safety reason we removed it as well as some low limbs up 10th avenue that were damaging the machines.
Our Kubota RTV is on its last legs. Although it’s been a work horse, it is now past due replacement! We have had a demo machine and are looking to test others before making a final decision on the best way forward.
Hollow coring and our annual Maintenance Aeration programme was scheduled for the week beginning 5th Sept. Without being picky this was really a week that we could have done with being “bone” dry…….. it wasnt, but we had some much needed rain, 84mm actually over 3 days !!! All 19 greens were hollow cored at 5-1/2 inches deep with ¾ inch tines and cleared off by 2.00pm. This was a great achievement by the green staff. We got the attachments swapped over and top dressed the 5th to make sure everything was in place to continue first thing Tuesday morning. We were pleased to be able to have use of some equipment from Turfcare to assist the work, which saved a huge amount of time.
Good time was being made before then the rain hit. The sand was laid and after a few weeks the greens are showing great signs of recovery. In total we have approximately applied 42 tonnes of top dressing and over seeded with approximately 100kg of fescue seed.
The winter work programme has been agreed with the Greens Director, which the team will begin following the end of the competitive playing season.
As the season comes to a close, grass is starting to slow down, hopefully the weather will be kind over the autumn to assist us with some of the jobs we have left remaining and allow some germination of seed as the days get shorter and cooler.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank all the members that help out as volunteers, especially the divot fillers, as well as to Paul Charlton of Turfcare, but mainly to “ the lads “ for what has been a really physically demanding 7 to 10 days. Finally thank you to the Directors for their continued support.
August 2022 (Click to Expand)
The end of July leading into August has had its challenges, mainly the lack of rain! This prolonged dry period has all over the country had or is having an effect on most. To try and save or reduce the stress to the grass mowing of fairways, semi rough and tees has been monitored and kept to a minimum. The greens have still been continued to be cut daily, but are monitored every day and are assessed accordingly.
Leading up to Tully cup we eventually got some well needed natural rain which perked the course up outstandingly well. During this damp period we sarrel rolled the greens and applied our monthly programme of seaweed, wetting agent and foliar feed, the timing was perfect and also were the results.
While grass cutting has been slow, it has allowed us to drop onto some jobs that normally we would struggle to do in the playing months. We have divotted all the fairways ( along with the help of the volunteers ), we have also been tidying low branches in the copses and the main impact area of the beech trees to the rear of the 6th green have been pruned and tidied. The whole surrounding area of the 5th medal tee has been brashed back and pruned along with the lane along to the cottages to allow deliveries.
It also allowed us time to spend some much needed time on maintenance of machines, from mid season oil changes, power washing down and re-greasing them all.
The irrigation system on the greens have been working overtime and has proved that investing money into the system has paid huge dividends to us as a club.
Some adjustments have been required on the greens side of the system where old heads have been replaced and some of the older heads had the wrong nozzles in, so after a day of investigation the heads were removed, stripped down and larger nozzles were fitted, this came at no cost other than time as I did the repairs in-house. The results have been promising.
I have just ordered the top dressing in preparation for our “maintenance week” at the start of September and I have also just ordered some new hollow tines, let’s keep our fingers crossed for some decent weather to allow a quick recovery.
Finally we have had a few incidents recently on the course from the local children, one such ongoing area of vandalism was the 7th green and 8th tee area but after catching them and having a chat with them it seems to have done the trick.
The other problem area was the 15th tee 14th green where the kids from the farm complex have caused damage and theft of markers etc and stabbing the pin into the greens. After a call last week from several members I chanced my luck and went door knocking and found the culprits, whose parents were only happy to help and have been brilliant in their approach to help stop such incidents. The father was happy enough to give me his number and if ever we have bother to phone him, this was greatly appreciated.
One more thing, I would like to thank “ the lads “ for all there help over such a tough time to be working outside, in such heat, they do it without complaint and I feel that they need a mention on my behalf as I’m only as good as the workers that support me….. and its cost me a fortune in ice lollies !!!
July 2022 (Click to Expand)
The month is mainly focussed on course maintenance as we are in the height of the season, preparing for monthly medals, mid-week medals, weekend competitions and club team games and of course general day to day play.
We are now into our 3rd application of our annual 4-6 wk liquid fertiliser and seaweed programme which has been in place for the last 4 years. The programme is providing fantastic results. We have a rooting system which has never been healthier, and in addition we are re-introducing a hollow coring programme.
We in the past have suffered massively from localised dry patch, compounded by the poor state of our irrigation system resulting us not being able to irrigate the greens when needed. Over the past few years our intention has been to increase the sward on the greens. Unfortunately, as the greens were so weak, moss started to invade these areas. Applications usually used worked against us due to the stress within the greens, therefore the addition of iron has been postponed temporarily. Further to the addition of iron, we would generally verti-cut ( remove lateral growth and unwanted top surface organic matter ). After issues with the machinery used to do this were resolved, verti-cutting began in the early part of the month, the first time in four months, with fantastic results. We aim to verti-cut several times each season. Watering routines are now in place regularly towards the end of the day and are producing superb results.
With the greens health and sward improving greatly, a working irrigation system and now these units functioning correctly I’m hopeful the moss will reduce and the finer grasses will flourish.
Jack Shotton who was with us throughout the winter months has been employed over the summer job and is currently taking courses in pesticide and fungicide spraying funded through the Government Kickstart scheme. Our cutting cylinders are in the process of being sharpened over the next few weeks, allowing a better quality of cut and stronger, healthier grass.
We have also taken delivery of our new Green-keeping Welfare units to replace the old Green-keeping Accommodation damaged by the winter storms. These are absolutely fantastic and will last the club for many years to come.
We would also like to thank John Davidson and Matty Searle for helping out with the divotting and also to Gary Kennedy for his work on the decking at the 10th tee where the halfway house once stood.