Course Manager’s blog - January 2020
Happy new year to all associated with Northenden Golf Club! First of all I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the members, staff, directors and the 500 club for all of your support and for making me feel very welcome in my new role as Course Manager. I am looking forward to my first summer in charge.
Upon my arrival at Northenden it was quite apparent that there was a vast amount of work to be carried out to get the course back up to the standards that I and others expect! I was hoping we could hit the ground running but unfortunately the weather put a big halt to that idea. However, that did allow us to assess the current drainage system and see where improvements can be made and how we can make these improvements in the long term considering the outlets into the river etc.
Extensive plans are in place to improve the drainage for the future of the golf course and we are hoping to start work on the outlets to the river and holding area in February/March with the help from the 500 club who have sourced machinery and operators to help lighten the workload so we can keep up with day to day maintenance whilst we undertake such a demanding task!
This project requires a certain level of skill and understanding, highlighting the need to tread carefully and have all potential outcomes and plans in place. We are looking at drawings from United Utilities to help assess our options. We are hoping to increase the outlet from its current 200mm pipe to a 600mm pipe that then makes its way into a 3ft drain to the river. This would then allow us to drain the problem areas and fairways without the worry of the water backing up the course!
The club have backed my decision that the old fairway mowers needed replacing. We are delighted to announce that we have purchased a brand-new Baroness fairway mower. We are hoping to take delivery of this mid-January.
The bunkers and paths
Bunker work has started and we will aim to have all the bunkers edged/ tidied and in play by the end of January. The sand will be topped up closer to the playing season where necessary.
Pathway improvement is another area that we are very keen to improve upon. This is a very time-consuming job due to the majority needing new edgings. We are hoping to get as many as possible done throughout February with new edgings and new topping.
The greens, of course, will be my number one priority closer to spring time. The purchase of the verti-drain means that we can get out and work the profile of the greens to help improve air to the rootzone and have healthier, deeper and stronger roots with less thatch build up in the greens. This will make them firmer in the long term and increase playability. It will also make them more resistant against disease.
As from March this year Propiconazole (the active curative ingredient in fungicides) is no longer allowed to be used. This means there are NO curative fungicides available to purchase. Meaning that cultural practices and sustainability is now more important than ever in the way we manage fine turf throughout the U.K. I was fungicide free in my last role at Swinton Park for two full years with small amounts of disease outbreak.
This was accomplished by using cultural practices, increased aeration techniques and timings and with the introduction of compost teas to help improve microbial activity in the soil profile. Cutting and thinning of trees around greens to increase airflow was also necessary. There was use of bio stimulants such as liquid pressed seaweed to stimulate the microbes in the soil. The same method that we will be using here at Northenden as soon as soil temperatures (usually in spring) allow.
We currently have Fusarium, but that should not worry anyone as Fusarium is mainly attacking POA Annua (an annual meadow grass that is very difficult to get rid of normally and slows green speeds down dramatically in summer) not so much the finer grasses within our greens (the ones that we want). Recovery will be quick in the spring! If we keep choosing to spray a fungicide (that may last only a few weeks) we are ruining the greens natural defence system and killing all the microbes within the soil. This has a long-lasting effect and means that when we get disease outbreaks in future they will happen twice as badly. Hence my strict no fungicide approach to our greens. They will improve dramatically after a full season of growth and with the approach I take towards maintaining them.
We will have some scarring, but we will recover very quickly in spring. Especially with plans to over seed the greens with pure creeping bent grass at renovation time. The long-term goal is to be fungicide free using compost teas and enough fertilizer to produce great surfaces. This also has a massive financial gain too as fungicides can often set you back £900 per application!
Jobs completed or near completion
13th drainage system in front of the tees.
13th removal of trees for airflow and light and to create a wildlife area with wildflowers and a bug hotel.
13th to 14th pathway grade banking down, remove old redundant irrigation pipe.
Drain on the 5th surround.
Verti drain greens.
Pathways tidy and edge.
Tree copses removal of shrubbery under trees for visual improvement and playability.
Clear ditch to holding area with digger.
Excavate 60 tonnes of soil at the greenkeeper shed to allow for a new base layer of hardcore so we can fit a second cabin for the storage of hand tools.
Concrete around septic tank to seal gaps and fix the issue with water ingress.
We thank you for your continued support. Please help us as much as possible by repairing pitch marks and replacing divots!
If anyone would like a game of golf with myself just contact the greens chairman or the directors or email the office FAO the Course Manager and I would be more than happy to get to know a few more members and take peoples views and opinions on board whilst having a game.