With the Summer season not only looming large, but now well and truly upon us, we can take stock of what has been a successful winter. We have already enjoyed our season opener on Saturday 6 April.
The weather had been hit and miss through March. Having once again seen plenty of mild, dry days it is all too easy to forget the horrid rain and wind that the aptly named Storm Gareth brought in the middle of the month. January and February saw 48mm and 43mm respectively. 100mm fell in a 10 day period between the 8-18 of the month, that means a total of 128mm for March. Having said that some nicer weather with a cool drying wind has allowed the course to once again handle the extremes of our North West climate very well.
Lots of cutting and striping of the course puts us in good shape going forward. By the time you read this we would have conducted our second full cut of the course, including the rough, ditches and bunkers. For the back end of March early April, this is a vast improvement on last year. These early cuts can sometimes leave the turf with a yellow tinge in places, this is perfectly normal and as the fields dry further and as the grass really starts to grow, we should hopefully see some real quality coming through.
On the point of growth, at the moment conditions, temperatures in particular mean that growth is still only in the linear form with the plants still requiring better temperatures to begin filling out and developing the surfaces. For those interested the average temperature of the putting green through the days – at the moment is around 8-9 degrees, a lot less if you include overnight temps. This needs to be above 10 constantly for proper growth. All of the cutting and presenting of the golf course has left us with a number of areas still requiring attention from the winter. Of course, it is a nice problem to have and we will be finishing these projects asap. They include the turfing of the 8th and 1st bunkers, final clearing of the 16th and finishing off the area between the 12 green and 13th tee.
We have begun to up the maintenance regime on the greens. We’ve double scarified to a depth of 8mm and put on a strong Spring feed and we have dressed for the first time. Approximately 9-10 tons was applied and brushed in by mid morning, great work from the team. This sand will soon be a distant memory and will put us on our way to exceed last year’s total of around 115 tons. We have now taken the height of cut on the greens down to 4.5mm. This will make an immediate difference although it is still a long way to go down to our summer height of around 3.25mm.
We will be pushing hard over the coming weeks to elevate the course to a summer standard along with finishing those jobs mentioned. We will also be conducting other tasks and putting some new items out on the course. The sand and new rakes in the greenside bunkers will be done this month along with new tee markers. Once finished the new sand will need a short period of weathering to settle down properly, we will do our best to speed this process up but it is one which just requires a little time. The reason we don’t put the sand in too early to make sure the sand is weathered in for Spring is that we want the sand to be at its best for the main playing season and hasn’t been contaminated with winter mud and traffic. 100 yard markers will be placed in the centre of fairways which is another new addition for this season.
Finally, we have made a start to our new environmental plan. 15 bird boxes have been erected around the course with more going up this week, including our first owl box. This work is being conducted by our senior member David Talliday along with his colleagues from Macclesfield RSPB. I for one am excited for the results later on in the year. David will also be conducting practical and educational work with the children from the Easter kids club.