Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Cut and collection of rough land areas

The photograph above shows the rough land area around the pond situated in front of the 9th Tee. The grass land has been mown and the arisings collected up. As part of the winter work other rough land areas around the golf course will have the same treatment. The larger accessible areas are mown with the tractor mounted "Amazone" which cuts and collects the grass.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Development of new short game practice area

Work has now commenced on the development of a three Green short game practice area on the bottom practice ground.
The main goal is to build three Greens, one at 200 sq m and two at 150 sq m in size. The contouring of the Greens will create a wide range of shots with the middle Green 2 having two bunkers built into the Green surround.

Early stages,turf clearing and levelling the old bunker on the 200 sq m Green 1

Green 1 will be set up for longer chip and run shots. The photo above shows the base of the Green built. There are some undulations in the base that do not show up in the photograph.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Maintenance work to Greens 3, 4 and 6

In an attempt to improve the drainage rates on Greens 3, 4 and 6 extra aeration and sand dressing has been carried out.
The profile of these Greens is made up of a finer soil texture than others on the course and do not naturally drain as fast. For example the 7th, 9th and 18th Greens are constructed from a sandier material and with the help of their elevation naturally drain well.
Following discussions with the STRI it was decided to try and create vertical drainage channels which will help surface water percolate through the profile quicker. In achieving this the growing environment will improve and surface water following heavy rainfall will not sit on the Green surface for as long.
The work carried out involved verti-draining using 19mm diameter solid tines to a depth of 250mm. Dressing sand was then applied to the Green which was then brushed into the holes using a mechanical contra-rotating brush.
The Green was then hollow cored using 12mm diameter hollow tines to a depth of 63mm. Further dressing sand was  applied following overseeding with Brown top bent seed. The brush was again used to fill the holes full of sand. Altogether approximately 13 tonnes of sand was applied to the three Greens.

Verti-draining on a sanded Green

Hollow coring following verti-draining and sanding

The contra-rotating brush used to move the sand down the aeration holes

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Autumn maintenance work to Tees

Following on from last weeks Greens maintenance the main Teeing grounds have had some maintenance carried out to them.
All Tees have been double verti-cut followed by a single mow at 8mm height of cut. The new root zone constructed Tees were then verti-drained using 13mm diameter solid tines to a depth of 200mm. The older Tees have been hollow cored using 13mm diameter hollow tines to a depth of 63mm. All Tees will now be sand dressed applying approximately 20 tonnes of dressing sand.

Hollow coring the 17th Tee bed

Friday, 18 September 2015

Greens maintenance week 14th to 18th Sept

The maintenance work on the Greens  has gone to plan this year with the help of favourable weather. All Greens have been treated with the following:

Verti-cut (two passes)
Single mow at 3.5mm height of cut.
Sand dressing involving three dressings over the week applying approximately 50 tonnes of dressing sand.
Verti-drained using 13mm solid tines to a depth of 200mm.
Solid tine using 9mm diameter solid tines to a depth of 75mm.
Overseeding using 50Kg of browntop bent seed. (AberMajesty browntop bent blend)
Overseeding of the large putting Green with varieties of Fescue seed.

Sand dressing

Drag matting the sand into the Green surface

Contract verti-drain on fairways

For the third year in a row "Worth draining" contractors have carried out verti-draining across the fairways and walkways carrying out 50 hours of aeration over a three day period during maintenance week.
Two verti-drains are used using 25mm solid tines to a depth of 200mm. The operation of the verti-drain fractures the underlying soils, improving surface drainage, relieving compaction and improving root growth and general health of the grass plants.

Both aerators working in the valley section of the golf course

Sunday, 30 August 2015

New mowing pattern for Green Approaches

The photo below is of a John Deere light weight fairway mower which is currently on demonstration at the golf club. The five eighteen inch wide cutting units are set at a height of cut of 12mm. The mower is being used on the Green surround and Approach to the Green. The mowing pattern of the Approach to the Green has been changed in both size and shape on holes 8, 9, 12 and 18 with the approach coming out some twenty five metres from the Green. If successful the mower will help to enhance the mowing presentation and aesthetics of the Approaches and also improve the quality of the sward through the use of the improved specification of the cutting units.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Hillside Golf Club

Being a member of BIGGA and our local Lancashire Turf Club has its benefits. I have recently had the pleasure of walking around Hillside GC with fellow greenkeepers and Hillside's Head Greenkeeper, Martin Twist. The photo's show a few of the holes and vistas which help to make this a magnificent golf course. The club a reaping the rewards for hard work and a positive attitude to change and development. The club are one the final qualifying courses for the 2015 Open championship.


Refining the Tee surfaces

The new replacement verti-cut blades are proving to be very effective at refining the Tee and Apron playing surfaces. Several passes across the Tees has removed some of the coarser plant growth, monthly verti-cutting will further help to improve grass quality and presentation.
The photo below shows the 17th Tee after a double verti-cut and a pass with the mower.

Friday, 12 June 2015

STRI annual agronomy visit.

Alistair Beggs from the Sports Turf Research Institute carried out his annual agronomy advisory visit on Thursday 11th June. The purpose of the visit is to review prevailing course conditions and to offer advice on on-going management and project work.
The day comprises an initial talk where the Course Manager discusses and provides information on management practices that have been carried out since his last visit. There then follows a course walk where playing surfaces and recent project works are looked at and discussed. Following the visit a report is compiled on the findings of the day with recommendations and comments.

During the course walk soil samples are taken for sampling of organic matter levels and the nutrient status. Photo's are taken which often help to make a point.

Managing moisture levels within the Greens.

Now that summer looks like it has finally arrived my thoughts (and the members) turn to the management of the moisture levels in the Greens. Once temperatures rise towards 20 degree centigrade and there is a rain free period then the moisture level within a Green needs to be controlled. This is done through the use of our irrigation system comprising of the irrigation heads and hand hose pipe watering on the high spots and hot spots of the Greens.
To ascertain whether irrigation needs to be applied a moisture meter (photo below), is used to determine the percentage of moisture within the pore space of the Green rootzone. Ideal conditions are readings of between 15 and 20% moisture. Any lower than that for anything longer than twenty four hours and the grass plant will begin to suffer from wilt and lack of turgidity. This would eventually lead to summer dormancy where the grass plant shuts down its functioning and growth would completely stop.
 On the flip side if moisture levels were consistently kept around 30% and above then other problems would occur. The objectives and management practices at the golf club are set around the establishment and development of Fescue/Bent Greens which are medium to fast in pace, firm and playable for twelve months of the year. Consistent heavy rainfall or over watering through the irrigation system would have a negative effect on all of the above, creating soft, spongy, thatch riddled, annual meadow grass dominated Greens. These Greens would have poorer playing characteristics over the twelve month period, be prone to more disease and cost more money to manage.

A probe is inserted into the playing surface which computes a reading on the screen.

Two of the four irrigation heads running on the 8th Green.

The majority of the irrigation is applied through the irrigation heads which run on an automatic system through the night. Certain parts of the Greens sometimes need extra hand watering to keep the moisture levels required.

Hand watering with a wetting agent applicator attachment.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Spring maintenance on Greens completed

Following two days of decent dry weather the Spring maintenance work mentioned in the previous post has been successfully completed.

Following a second and lighter sand dressing and a pass with the drag mat the renovation works are now complete. The second dressing helped to cap off the slits created by the seeder and put the seed to bed.

All we need now is some light rain/irrigation, sunshine and a few passes with the vibro-rollers.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Spring maintenance on the Greens

Now that the soil temperatures have warmed up a bit the Greens have had several maintenance operations carried out to them. A two/three day slot at this time of the year is set aside allowing renovation work to be carried out.
The following tasks are carried out to all the Greens:


The Greens are verti-cut which refines the grass sward and controls the build up of organic matter.

Solid tining using 9mm diameter tines to a depth of 75mm

This aeration work allows air exchange, encourages root development, improves surface drainage and provides a good base for the applied sand dressing.

Overseeding with the Vredo disc seeder

The Greens are overseeded using varieties of Chewings Fescue and Slender Creeping Red Fescue. Fescue is one of the desired grass species in a golf green, it helps to improve the consistency of the playing surface over the whole of the year.

Vredo disc seeder

Finally the Greens are dressed using straight dressing sand. This maintenance period is an ideal time to apply a heavy 30 tonne dress. The desired figure for the growing season is between 100 and 120 tonnes. The dressing sand improves the smoothness and trueness of the Green, improves surface drainage and helps to create the desired firm surface over the whole of the year.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Verti-cutting Greens

Periodically during the growing season the Greens are vertically mown to a depth of approximately 1.5mm. Verti-cutting is a light form of scarification where rotating blades scratch at the sward surface. Coarse growth and dead/ dying grass plant material is removed which would otherwise contribute to the thatch layer. Lateral growth is also pruned encouraging a more upright finish. From a playing perspective verti-cutting improves the ball roll improving the smoothness and trueness of a putt.

vertical blades 

The vertical blades throw the clippings into the grass box

Removed debris from approximately three Greens.


Monday, 20 April 2015

Overseeding the bank to the rear of the 5th Tee

The bank surrounding the rear of the par three 5th Tee has been overseeded with varieties of fescue and two x 1Kg of wild flower seed.
The long term goal is to create a grass feature with wild flowers during the Summer months.

back right of the Tee in complete shade

back left of the Tee in dappled shade

Prior to seeding the bank was strimmed and raked out to expose the bare soil. This created a seed to soil bed that will aid germination. The irrigation at the rear of the Tee has been set to 360' which will allow watering of some of the bank.
The problems that have to be overcome are that the bank is sheltered from the direct sun for part of the day and the pine trees to the rear of the Tee  prevent rainfall from wetting the bank.
The fescue and wild seed chosen will grow in dry sandy soils so hopefully the seed will germinate and establish.  

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

LLCGA play the northern womens amateur foursomes at MGC

The last three days have seen the Lancashire Ladies County Golf association play their Spring Northern womens Close Amateur foursomes Competitions at Morecambe golf Club.
Apart from some drizzly rain on Wednesday morning the weather was set fair for the matchplay competition. Congratulations on home players Christine McGrath and Julie Cheung on reaching the semi-finals.

Where's Spring

It looks like we will have to be patient for a little while longer yet before Spring kicks in properly. Two weeks ago it seemed like the new season was going to be upon us. Although the day length times have improved the temperatures are still in the low teens at best. For general growth patterns to improve the temperatures must consistently be above 12'c. This will then warm the soils up and lead to consistent growth.

First signs of Spring

The Hawthorn is one of the first trees to come into leaf at this time of the year. As you can see from the photo above the leaf is only just pushing through !!

Friday, 3 April 2015

An insight into the false world of Augusta

Well worth a read, the article below gives an insight into what it takes to prepare the Augusta National golf course for one of the biggest golf tournaments in the world. Completely out of touch with reality, but interesting to read.

Inside the Ropes: The Life of an Augusta greenkeeper

Augusta National was a Leeds greenkeeper's office for six months
Amen Corner Augusta
Amen Corner Augusta
Andy Stranger
Andy Stranger
Headingly greenkeeper Andy Stanger told his careers advisor that he loved cutting grass. Twelve years later he earned himself a six-month
internship at the most famous corner in golf in the run-up to the 2009 Masters.

“I got the internship after a three- hour phone interview with three different people. There were 14 of us interviewing for one job. I began in late October 2008 and was appointed to work on holes 8 and 9. Then Amen Corner came up so I spent 15 hours a day working on 11 and 12. It was a dream spot, where else would you want to be as a greenkeeper?

“They have 45 full-time staff on turf, 35 on horticulture and eight to 10 interns on hole care. There are also four full-time mechanics. The greenkeepers’ prefab is immaculate. They will sand down all the paint on all the walls and paint it all again brand new every year.

“The site is huge. To get from Amen Corner from the maintenance facility would take about eight minutes to drive to. The trees go on for quite a way before you get to the edge of the site, it’s like a fortress.

“I have always fancied caddying there. The caddies say the 11th is the hardest hole, if you go left from the tee you’re dead, and it’s the most difficult to putt on. In the morning, with the dew on it, you can see really subtle breaks and the nap goes down towards the pond. Pros will drop 50 balls to find a way to run one down to the pin.

“The 12th can be deceptive, there is a hole in the trees where the creek runs and that can act like a funnel for the wind. The green is tiny. If you go long there is no up and down from the bunkers.

“They have a bunker technician there every single day; depth checking, cleaning, topping up, edging. I can guarantee and the depth of sand will be exactly the same in every bunker. When the course shuts they get a black liner and peg it all in so any bunker can’t be contaminated or get blown away. Then they clean them out and freshen them up.

“The course opens again in October and they have all new grass every year. The Bermuda grass in the summer basically holds the soil together and looks terrible and that’s why it’s shut. In October they scalp all the Bermuda grass down to the soil and plant new Ryegrass everywhere. And then the clock starts ticking and the countdown goes up on the wall. There is no ‘we’ve got til April’, the intensity is then ramped up from that point.

“You will get weak spots, bits that are in the shade we will be working on. We were throwing seeds two weeks before the tournament – anything that can be picked up on a camera will be painted green.
They get the green speeds to around 14. No club golfer will ever understand that. And that is on firm and undulating greens
“Members aren’t expected to be out there playing every day. A busy day might be four rounds; most days there would be nobody. Two to three weeks before the tournament the players start arriving. Two weeks before that is the members’ tournament – The Jamboree – and that is the big deal and where you can get your name on the boards.

“Jack Nicklaus said if you put a 10-handicapper in the middle of every green he still wouldn’t break 90 and he is spot on, they are like putting on my desk. It is the sheer firmness. How they stop their balls on 15 is beyond me.

"They have chalk points on the greens that are 10 feet apart and they roll between them. They get the speeds to around 14. No club golfer will ever understand that. And that is on firm and undulating greens.

“Three weeks before you start mowing morning and night. They will say to cut the 10th three times, the 14th four times and the 12th just once and that will keep changing. Every green will be exactly the same speed.

"It is different to the US Open where the greens are purple by the Sunday, it is 80 ̊ in April and they haven’t been trampled all year and are not stressing it as a plant plus everything is monitored.

“On tournament days we would meet in the shop at 3.30am for a briefing. The chairman would come down at 4.30 to gee everybody up and you would be given a number of a mower with instructions.

“I had 12 which I would only cut once. There was no grass coming off, just dust, so I would help on 13. There is as much food and drinks as you want and then you are free to watch golf or get some sleep.

“A lot of us sat in the shop and watched it on the big screens. It is the best networking time and where you would get your next job. By 2.30pm I was in a buggy by the 5th in case anything went wrong.

"Then after the golfers have come through you start mowing the course again.”

• Andy is now the head greenkeeper at another Alister MacKenzie-designed course – Headingley, near Leeds 

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Spring bunker maintenance

Each Spring maintenance work is carried out on the seventy bunkers on the golf course.                 The work involves the mowing, trimming and edging of the bunker lips. This process gives the bunker a clean edge where any straggly growth is removed.
The sand in the bunker is redistributed and additional sand is added where necessary.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

John Deere 8800A Terrain cut rough mower

As part of the 2015 capital expenditure the golf club has purchased a new John Deere 8800A terrain cut rough mower. The purchase is to replace the tractor mounted wide area rough mower, which was twelve years old,  and has been part exchanged as part of the deal.
The mower is to be used for maintaining the mown areas of rough at a height of two and a quarter inches.
The photo below shows the new mower which operates with five twenty two inch wide rotary decks that follow the contours individually.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Shrub bed planting 1st Tee

The renovation of the 1st Tee is now complete with the planting of shrubs in the MGC bed and along the side of the extended Tee.
After taking advice four different types of shrub were chosen which are all low growing, salt tolerant and  low maintenance. The colours in the Morecambe golf club emblem were used in deciding which plants to purchase.
The four shrubs chosen are:
Lavender "Hidcote", purple flower
Ophiopogon "Nigrescens" black grass
Persicaria "Darjeeling Red", red flower
Erigeron karvinskianus ,white and yellow daisy like flower

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Golf Course Annual Report 2014




The following report outlines the work carried out on the golf course during 2014. The rainfall figures always have an effect on the timings of maintenance operations and sometimes the presentation of the golf course. The overall rainfall figure is higher than 2013. After a fairly wet start to the year the Spring was dry again with only 37mm in April. Other noticeable dry months were June and September. The irrigation was mainly put to use in April and the Summer months of June and July.


             Jan    Feb    Mar    Apr    May    Ju     Jly     Aug    Sept    Oct    Nov    Dec    Total
2012   116    55      29       64      91       145  133   152     194     145   153     176    1,453
2013   59      40      31       28      39        51    81     111     103     118   77       119       857
2014   175   123    76       37       57       19     69     96       18       150   113      83     1,016


                       Apr      May      June      July      Aug      Sept      Total
2012            317        525        0            0          25         0               867
2013            272        206       490        842       87        268       2,165
2014            398         0          707       502       0          358         1,965

In my 2013 annual report I wrote a paragraph on the “Future management of the Greens”
“Greenkeeping maintenance and management techniques are evolving all the time. I have decided, following discussions with the STRI and respected peers to amend and adjust certain cultural maintenance practices carried out on the Greens. The main objective is still to develop and sustain a fescue/Bent sward but with emphasis aimed at producing Summer putting surfaces that are more in line with tournament golf.”
Several changes were made which brought the following results.
1.. The nitrogen content in the fertiliser programme was increased by 16% with slightly higher inputs during the Spring period. This helped to overcome differential growth patterns between the grass species in the Greens.
2.. More intensive grooming work was carried out in the Spring with the verti-cut units. This process helped to refine the texture of the sward and improve ball roll.
3.. The vibrating rollers purchased in the Spring were put to good use being used on average three times per week during the playing season, Wednesday, Friday and Saturdays. The rolling has a cumulative effect, and if not abused will help to increase Green speed without the need for extreme low heights of cut.
4.. During the optimum growing conditions of the Summer months the height of cut was lowered from 4mm down to 3.5mm.


The four maintenance practices mentioned above helped to produce smoother, truer and to some extent faster putting surfaces. Overall this change in management did not seem to have any adverse effect on the Greens. The STRI did originally have some reservations, especially with the drop in height of cut, on the long term health of the Fescue/Bent grasses. If the regimes ever became too severe then annual meadow grass would become dominant again over the desirable grasses that have been established over the last twelve years.
Please remember we have to produce a surface playable for all abilities. Eleven of the eighteen Greens at Morecambe have aggressive slopes running through them. Anything over ten feet on the stimp meter will produce unplayable putting surfaces for the majority.

The Greens were successfully over seeded twice during 2014. A straight Brown top bent was used in May, and both Bent and two species of Red Fescue were used in September. The numbers of desirable grass species is still on the up helping to produce improved putting for the whole of the year.
As already stated the nitrogen levels were increased by some 16% up to 79 kilograms for the hectare. Potassium nitrate was used in the Spring to good effect. This nitrogen source is more readily available during cooler soil temperatures found at this time of the year. Liquid fertiliser was used again through the Summer months in the form of seaweed, an organic formulation and methylene urea which supplied the necessary nitrogen. The organic and seaweed have many benefits, it is a balanced soil conditioner, it stimulates growth and feeds the soil bacteria present.
For the fourth year in a row April was a dry month leading to the use of the irrigation. The other noticeable month being June where temperatures were quite high  with very little rainfall.
Straight sand was once again applied to the Greens this year. Approximately 120 tonnes was applied through the growing season with half between March and mid-May and the remainder around the maintenance week in September. This regime helps to build up the surface levels in Spring and cuts down on the amount of surface disruption during the main Summer months.
Regular monthly applications from March onwards allows for the even distribution of moisture through the Green profile as well as helping to move excess moisture away from the surface.
The vert-drain was used twice during the year in February and September. The action of the verti-drain produces heave within the Green and fractures the soil profile, relieving compaction and allowing air, water and root movement. The John Deere aercore  was used seven times again this year with solid tine attachments. This process keeps the surface open and is vital in supplying air to the organic matter layer and root system.



The golf course has a rolling programme set up with machinery replacement based on the age of the equipment and the addition of any new developments on the market. The club makes every effort to carry out this replacement programme as maintaining old equipment can be false economy and cost more in the long run.
The photograph below shows the attachment Greens rollers purchased in 2014. The units are fitted onto one of the Greens triple mowers in place of the cutting units. The Greens were rolled on average three times a week during the main growing/playing season.

The second purchase in 2014 was a John Deere 2500E Hybrid triple mower used for the mowing of Greens. An older version of this mower was used as part exchange.


Two Tees were redeveloped during 2014 as part of a long term plan of Tee renovations. The idea behind the renovation work is to produce Tees which are level, have a good coverage of irrigation and are built from quality materials which will allow play from them for the majority, if not all of the year.

5th TEE
The 5th Tee was renovated at the beginning of 2014. The completed Tee is now on one platform and at forty meters across  has a wide shot variance in Tee shot angle from one side to the other. The overall size has been enlarged from 430 sq m to 490 sq m which is the recommended size for a par three Tee taking into consideration divot damage through the year.
The work involved was as follows:
Level the surface into one platform, extend to the right hand side by four meters.
Install a main drain along the rear of the Tee.
Upgrade of the irrigation.
Rotovate and de-compact the Tee, add necessary infill material and level off.
Re-turf using a Fescue/Bent  mix turf.

1st TEE
First impressions of the golf course are important, the newly developed 1st Tee and shrub bed areas now have a good impact on the course.
The work involved was as follows:
The Cherry tree and shrubs were removed from the left hand side of the Tee.
A block retaining wall faced with natural stone was built down the left hand side of the Tee extension.
New irrigation fitted into the Tee supplying eight irrigation heads.
Infill material and rootzone imported into the Tee extension.
The old Tee was rotovated and de-compacted.
The whole of the Tee was levelled to a finish.
The Tee was re-turfed using a Fesue/Bent turf mix.
The shrub beds have been developed around the MGC box hedge and will be planted with low growing shrubs.

The Tee has been developed from 300 sq m up to 460 sq m allowing play from it for the whole of the year.

Below are photographs showing the development of the Tee.



The photos below show the building of the block retaining wall dressed with natural stone and the completed Tee and new shrub bed.



For a second year running a contract hire company were employed by the club to carry out verti-draining aeration to the Fairways. The contractors supply and use two 2m wide verti-drain aerators fitted with 25mm diameter solid tines working to a depth of 200mm. The action of the tines produce heave and fracture the soil profile relieving built up compaction. Surface drainage is also improved with air and water movement down through the soil.
The contract is carried out during the September maintenance week. This year the ground was particularly dry allowing excellent fracturing of the soils. The improvement to surface drainage was very noticeable during October when the weather broke. Carrying out this process yearly will improve conditions greatly.

Fairway divot protection has been carried out again this year with artificial mats being placed in designated areas. The two main Fairways protected are the 6th and 8th with other areas protected periodically. The beneficial results are there for everybody to see.

The last quarter of the year has seen fairly damaging pecking to areas of turf from crows. The crows have been digging for chafer grubs, the larvae of the Chafer beetle.
The climate conditions during 2014 have been ideal for chafer grub larvae to thrive. Most of the pecking damage has occurred throughout the sandier sections of the course eg, bunker surrounds and some of the sandier soiled Tees. The chafer beetle prefer sandy loams to lay their eggs which in turn allows easier movement of the larvae. The turf is further weakened by the larvae feeding on the grass roots.
Replacement of the sandy loams with a richer growing medium has been carried out with the areas re-turfed.
The development of the chafer beetle laid egg into the larvae stage can be controlled using an insecticide containing the active ingredient Imidacloprid. This insecticide is supplied as a granular systemic and is applied preventatively as the eggs are laid in late Spring/early Summer. Working within our budget an application of the insecticide will be applied at the appropriate time.

From a Greenkeeping perspective the weather patterns of 2014 have been favourable with lower than average rainfall and decent sunlight hours during the Summer. The last few Springs have been quite dry with fairly low Spring soil and air temperatures.
The Board of directors have supported the golf course most favourably this year. The operating budget has been kept the same, the development of the golf course has continued with the improvement works to the 1st and 5th Tees and the capital expenditure on maintenance machinery has continued.