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As I sit here and write my first course report as your new course manager at Chester Golf Club, my first message is I hope all our members are keeping safe and well during these difficult and unprecedented times.
As a club we will still be here once all this eases off, and when restrictions are lifted and golf is allowed the course will be ready and able to play and enjoy, all the staff at the club look forward to welcoming everybody back, but right now health and wellbeing must take priority.
I've had the pleasure of meeting some of you in my short time at Chester GC, and look forward to meeting more and more of our members as time goes on and we are allowed back out on the course.
A bit about my greenkeeping career to date;
Greenkeeping has been a part of my life since I was a young lad, as my father is a course manager also. After leaving school I studied my BTEC National diploma in sports turf full time at Cannington college in Somerset, on completion of that I accepted a job at Carden park where i spent 6 years and studied my NVQ level 2 and 3, before moving to Pryors Hayes as Head Greenkeeper in 2013, and completing my NVQ level 4.
I have been honoured to work at some big golfing tournaments such as the 2010 Ryder cup, 2007 Open championship, and I was selected to be one of the Greenkeepers at the Open this year, however quite rightly it has been postponed a year for the safety of everyone.
I believe we have an unbelievable course at Chester, I feel very privileged to be your course manager.
My first seven weeks seem to have flown by but we have achieved a lot in those weeks, not just me but my whole team, who are passionate, dedicated and professional greenstaff who deserve enormous credit for the way they have taken everything I have asked of them in their strides.
For those of you who are not familiar with our greenstaff, we have Alex Johnson (deputy Course Manager), Alex Musgrave and Alan Owens (assistant Greenkeepers), so for anyone who sees us come and say hello, any questions were all here to answer and we relay all feedback as a team.
After such a wet winter where we recorded record rainfall, it was nice to get straight in to greens maintenance and allow the greens to breath, our greens maintenance consisted of hollow coring greens, applying a granular seaweed at a rate of 35g/sqm, this will enhance root development and improve soil structure. this was then followed by applying 33 tonnes of straight sand and work it in using all of the following, sweep & fill, W brush, straight brush, and a drag matt.
We had perfect weather for the job in hand and within 10 days with no rain the sand was all brushed and worked in, meaning the greens were ready for a trim at 5mm.
However due to the wet winter, we struggled to get the machines anywhere near the 11th green, so this was left. The following Monday 360 Ground Care were on site verti-drianing our greens to relieve compaction, allow oxygen in to the soil, which will encourage deeper rooting.
The greens are currently at a slightly higher height than normally for this time of the year, as a)no footfall, b) encourage a healthier plant that can tolerate any disease we may get during these times.
Anybody that has walked the course over the past month would have seen the tee boxes have been re-aligned, marked up and the tees are now being hand cut, this will increase the presentation of the course. With presentation the key, we have sprayed tees last week with a selective weed killer, liquid feed, along with a growth regulator.
The aim of this 3 way mix is to kill weeds on the tees which mainly consist of Daisy and Clover, thicken up the sward density, the growth regulator will make the plant withstand a variety of stressing including heat, drought, and traffic. The active ingredient slows the production of gibberellic acid, a plant hormone that promotes cell elongation. Vertical growth is slowed but stolons, tillers and rhizomes are stimulated encouraging sward density.
The fairways are now down to 14mm, which will give us manageable surfaces, they are due to be sprayed with a selective weed killer in the coming weeks, we have extended some fairways, and reshaped where we felt needed.
Along with the tees, the approaches are being cut at 10mm moving forward, along witht his we have also changed the mower which we now cut these with. By changing mowers we are getting a tighter cut, giving us better playing surfaces, the shapes have changed as we have extended some approaches, only cut one pads around the greens giving us better definition, less wear, and improving presentation.
The approaches have been fed with a granular feed, however next week will receive a spray with a selective weed killer.
We are starting to introduce 2 bands of semi rough around the fairways, greens, and bunker complexes, this will act as a step from fairway to rough, and will be cut at an inch, again improving the course continuity and presentation.
As stated earlier we do hope everyone is keeping safe and well, as it currently stands the Greenstaff are still in, keeping our social distance, and following the governments, and R&A's guidelines in regards to course maintenance and cutting procedures.
Its vitally important to keep you, the members up to date with what's been going on out there on the course, this will be detailed in regular newsletters, however for those on twitter, I have set up a course account so we can broadcast what we are doing out there on the course, below is a link.