3rd Green Update
Just a short note to let you know that the planned work to install Passive Capillary Drainage at the 3rd green has been successfully completed.
DJUKE the contractor turned up on time and delivered their work in a very professional and tidy manner. Our HGK Jon was on hand throughout and he was incredibl pleased with he way the work was done and the outcome.
Today the green has been cut, sanded and is now fully open for play. There are narrow slit marks where the drains were pulled in but the green is virtually undamaged. please be patient whilst the slkits fully knit and the greens staff complete the follow up work to alleviate the compaction caused by rolling to restore the flat surface.
There are some areas of GUR which are clearly marked and i would ask that you respect these areas and take the appropriate relief which im sure will be communicated by gents golf.
Ive failed miserably in being able to upload pictures of he work but Jon uploaded lots onto the intstagram account if you want to have a look at what went on. What you will see is how undisturbed the green looks compared to the work that was undertaken.
Once we have confirmed dates from the main drainage contractor I'll get another update out as this work will be disruptive too.
Chair of Greens
Spring 2022 Update
I thought it was time for a more general update on what's planned for the course over the coming weeks. whilst we can never be sure of what the UK weather has in store for us the course is now starting to come to life and the storms we witnessed in December and January are behind us and we can all concentrate on playing.
That said after the couple of days rain last week we can all see that the water table is high particularly on the 7th. As Chairman of Greens I've been both proud and impressed with the way that the team led by Jon reacted and did their very best to keep the course open as much as possible even with some fairly radical course modifications. Even in the short time I have been involved I'm regularly surprised in what they have to deal with each week and month. The course is ever changingas are its surroundings. It's not until you interact weekly and some times daily with you begin to understand what the team have to contend with in order to make sure the course is safe and playable for everyone.
Unfortunately, Ian Stone one of the team left us in March to take up a role at Trentham GC, Stoke, he is a Stoke resident so I guess this was an easy decision for him and whilst we tried to persuade him to stay the prospect of a 10 min commute with more money was too difficult to turn down. I'm pleased to report though after a number of weeks of looking we have secured the services of another assistant in Adam Saynor who joins us on 3rd, May. He is really excited about joining us and will be a great addition the to the AEGC team. As I write this note Jake is managing the course on his own as Jon is in Portugal with his family enjoying a well earned break. I did encourage him to visit a few courses whilst out there to carry out research on course management he could bring back here but from his four and three word answer he didn't seem keen! So if you see Jake around please check in and make sure he is ok.
As for the course, the team worked hard up to opening sides to make sure that the course looked as good as it could for what is the opening event of the new golfing season. Overall feedback was very positive and just like all of us positive recognition for the team goes a long way. In the run up to opening sides the greens and fairways were vertical drained. The greens had another treatment of the Air2G2 deep root treatment as well as early season treatments to discourage disease etc. We also brought in an agronomist to carry out surveys on a number of greens to check out thatch levels were we have been experiencing poor drainage. The survey showed up that a number of our greens 4 out of 9 had levels of thatch twice as high as recommended. After receiving the report we have now made a plan for the rest of the year to deal with this problem, the plan consists of:
- A completely new range of treatments bespoke to our grass mix and the prevailing conditions
- Air2G2 injection (recently completed)
- Korro deep scarification, which has never been done at Alderley, this was planned last week but had to be cancelled after the heavy rain as it requires dry conditions to avoid excessive damage. It will now be done in September
- Micro-hollow tining, again something done at all courses in the area but never at AEGC, this will be done shortly and does not take greens out of play or cause excessive damage.
- Top dressing using a different green sand(completed last week)
Unfortunately the survey did confirm Jonathan's concerns that the 3rd green is draining badly and that coupled with the thatch is causing it to become hypoxic (starved of oxygen) So as part of the drainage programme we have decided to employ a specialist company to install new drainage around and across the whole green so we do not lose it. The technique is called 'Passive capillary drainage' PCD and is used on many courses in the area whom a few we have spoken to about the success of the system on their courses. Among it's benefits are that the work is completed in one day and the green will be back playable 24 hours after the work is complete. For those of you who are interested the company carrying out the work is DJUKE, their website is firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to find out more. This work will be paid for from the ring fenced drainage budget.
The remaining drainage work will now be done during the 3rd and 4th week of June over a 9 day period. I realise that this is during the height of the playing season but in June we know the course will be dry and firm enough to access the heavy plant required to do the work properly and reduce any peripheral damage. Between Jon, the greens team, greens committee plus Gents and Ladies golf we will look to minimise disruption, protect competetions and advise on local rules.
The work we are planning along with that already explained regarding the 3rd green will be:
- The 3rd in the area between the green and the 2nd tee
- The 7th from the tee across the slope down to the fairway, clearing out the pond and outfall adjacent to the 4th tee and 7th fairway and draining the whole fairway into the black Brook.
- In addition to this work we will also be ditching and dredging the black Brook to provide additional retention capacity to avoid installing the pond that was planned behind the tree adjacent to the 7th fairway. This work and the above work on the 7th will be the largest and most complex to complete.
- Finally there will be a new outfall installed almost the full length of the 9th hole down to Whitehall Brook and the fairway fully drained in the traditional wet area about 25m from the path from the 8th green.
The work outlined will use up all of the ring fenced budget. Some additional work in other areas will be undertaken by the greens staff but will not be as intrusive. There is also some more work needed on providing paths which we are looking to do as well. This work should alleviate the main hot spot drainage areas, but remember the course is on a flood plain and drainage will NOT prevent flooding. I'm confident as Jon is that this work as with that done on the 5th will provide major improvement in the coming months and years ahead.
In the coming weeks we are also looking to take delivery of a new 'Sidewinder' ride on mower which will be a welcome addition for the team allowing them to access awkward sloped areas of the course of which there are many!
we are also looking to bring back into service another single rider buggy for those with mobility issues as we strive to make the course as accessible as possible.
So busy but exciting times ahead for the greens staff and the course in general. Remember if you have any feedback then please contact your greens committee representatives who are Celia Berent, Graham Moss, Andy Slater, Mark Walker, Harrison Peck and Harry Sexton or if you really have to myself!
I do hope this update is of interest and look forward to seeing you out on the course soon.
Neil and the greens staff
Greens News Update
Since the last update posted it has been great to see that overall the weather has been kind to us through January. The drier weather has meant that the course has improved out allowing the greens staff to re-establish a full length winter course and mow the greens which had been impossible due to their saturated state. Please remember though that the water table is still very high and and significant rainfall will inevitably create issues which will have to be dealt with as they arise.
I have recieved some enquiries relating to temporary tee's, greens etc. As I explained in my last update the greens team have to make daily decisions based on the conditions they encounter on a daily basis. Clearly temporary closures and the need to utilise winter greens can be frustrating but the objective through the winter months is to protect the course as best as we can to make sure that through spring and into summer the course can be presented at its best.
Jonathan and his team have our members interest at the heart of everything they do. Whilst constructive feedback is always welcome we must trust the team to go about their duties as they see fit utilising their knowledge and experience. As I have mentioned previously the use of heavy machinery during winter is almost impossible at Alderley so the guys have to do every task manually which is more time consuming and labour intensive.
During February we hope to conclude discussions with our drainage contractor on what work will be prioritised through April and May which will then reap benefits through the Autunm and Winter of 2022.
I did manage to get out and play myself this weekend and overall I was pleased with how the course played and the overall presentation. What was disappointing though was the number of fairway divots when all members and guests should be playing off mats or nudging their balls into the rough in line with the local winter rule. This was also true of the number of un-repaired pitch marks on the greens. Whilst the odd one after the pin may be excusable pitch marks not being repaired up to the pin is not great. I would like to remind everyone to please replace any divots you come across and repair all pitch marks, the benefits are both immediate and long term. Please also remind your playing partners to to the same too.
Could all members please:
*Carry their clubs if at all possible
*Repair all pitch marks on the greens
*use fairway mats but replace all divots where they are observed.
On behalf of the greens staff
Dear Members, firstly may I take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year.
The last few weeks since storm Arwen shut the course for a week has seen even more rain which means the water table is at its highest and the course in many places is totally saturated.
The conditions for the green staff have been challenging to say the least with their priorities being to do as much as they can in between downpours to keep the course playable and open. We took the decision over the holiday period when there were no staff in to keep the course open and in the main that decision was vindicated with many people getting out to play and blow the cobwebs away during the festive period.
Whilst I believe that was exactly the right call one or two areas of the course are becoming difficult to navigate and we will have to make some temporary changes this week to make sure that we allow those areas to recover as best as they can. The purpose of this update is simply to ask that when those changes are made you understand why and respect the decisions made by Jon and the green staff are for the benefit of everyone. The team will continue to carry out tasks which the conditions allow, the course was so wet before the break that it was impossible to mow the greens without causing damage.
myself and the green staff would also appreciate that where possible members continue too:
- carry their clubs if at all possible
- stick to the designated walkways
- repair pitch marks
- use fairway mats as set out in the local rule from Gents and Ladies golf
On a positive note the safety netting behind the 2nd green has now been completed to the satisfaction of our course neighbour which means we can now fully utilise the whole green to give the front some respite!
Chairman of Greens
Greens Update 11/12/21 Course Closure
Course Update – 11/12/21
Following on from the brief update given by Barry Arnold yesterday I thought I would provide a more detailed situation report on the course condition and the plans to get the course open as soon as possible.
The exceptional rainfall for those of you that live local has caused major disruption to the road network and dealt the course a major blow with extensive flooding and associated damage. This must be heart breaking for the greens team as they have worked hard to set up the course really well for the winter period.
I conducted a course walk yesterday morning with Jon our head greenkeeper to set out what the next few days look like to carry out repairs and get the course fit for play. As things stand today the whole course is pretty well saturated and unfit but the first, fourth and the seventhare completely unplayable.
Today at the crack of dawn the green staff were out retrieving the bridges that had floated off their supports. By lunchtime the two bridges over the 8th and 9th had been straightened, repaired and re-positioned. All other bridges have had a thorough inspection and repair actions agreed. Whilst the bridges have been re-positioned, they still need to have the approaches consolidated with new stone to make sure that there is safe access and egress for footfall and trollies.
I have just re-walked the course myself today and whilst the floodwater and the levels in the brook have reduced it was raining heavily again and those holes still remain unplayable, and the debris strewn around the course as the floodwater recedes is a challenge too.
There will be no work carried out today as the floodwater needs to further recede and the course drain so we can safely access machinery to transport and lay the materials required. This is dependant on the forecasted rain not being as bad a predicted so we can access the machinery needed to do this.
This work will be done Sunday along with anything else that the greens staff can do to in the time available. At this stage I am afraid that the course is likely to remain closed on Monday and Tuesday whilst the team look for suitably dry and accessible tee locations, rope off the driest routes to allow golfers to cross the brook and prevent as much damage to the course as it recovers.
I realise that having the course closed until Wednesday will be disappointing for many, but I can assure you that the work to clear the course of debris caused by the flooding will be a major exercise once the floodwater has fully receded. In addition to this there are safety considerations as many paths, slopes and areas are extremely slippery and cannot be walked upon without risk.
During my walk out today crossing the bridges over the brook onto the first green is almost impossible even in well-treaded waterproof field boots. Again, I realise that we all have a different perception of risk, but the club has a duty of care just as we as members have a duty of care to ourselves and others.
Below are some images taken yesterday afternoon of the 1st approach and green, the area between the 8th and 9th at the base of the slope and the 7th fairway and the area between the 2ndtee and 3rd green.
I can assure you that myself and the greens staff are doing everything we can do to get the course open and fit for play as soon as possible. I share your frustration and thank you all for your patience as we work hard to get the course fit for play. I’m aware that the Ladies have a Christmas competition on Tuesday but at this stage its too early to make a call on whether the course can be readied for play.
Neil Johnson, Chairman of Greens
Greens Update November 2021
Greens Update November 2021
Since accepting the role of Chairman of the Greens committee it has been a real eye opener getting involved and understanding what goes into maintaining a golf course and the many and varied activities that impact on the greenkeeping staff. Our head greenkeeper Jonathan assisted by Jake and Ian are gelling well as a team and starting to put their own markers down in looking after the course since Les retired earlier on in the summer.
I’ve been really encouraged by their attitude and willingness to listen to feedback and their wish to do things differently to keep improving the condition of the course for all our members and those people who visit the club.
We also have a committee of volunteers who have met once since the AGM who are also keen to take the club forward and act as your representatives. On the committee working alongside myself we have Andy Slater, Mark Walker, Graham Moss, Harrison Peck, Harry Sexton, and our lone ladies representative Celia Berent who could really do with a ‘mate’ to help give a better balance to the group and its representation. Any ladies interested should make themselves known to Celia or myself.
I know one of the main talking points amongst members is the status of the ‘drainage’ project which had a bit of a false start last year which I know frustrated many. I’ll explain where we are up to with this important project further on in the update. Before that I’d like to take this opportunity to give you an insight into what has been going on and what’s to come.
As well as the regular day to day work in cutting the tee’s, fairways and greens lots of other work has been undertaken with more planned through the winter months such as:
- Ø All greens, approaches, and tee’s overseeded
- Ø New paths installed off the first tee, over the wet areas on the 9th fairway and an extension adjacent to the back 9th tee
- Ø Localised drainage work at the back of the 7th green, in front of the brook on the 3rd and the 4th approach
- Ø In addition to the above work has been undertaken to provide a better flow from the black brook at the confluence with Whitehall Brook which is vital as the water table rises during the winter months
- Ø Balsam clearance at above location
- Ø 7th drainage outlets fully cleared and made operational
- Ø Work has been done on repairing bridges
- Ø The fairways, tees and approaches have been aerated
- Ø The greens in late October were subject too AIR2G2 Air injection which is a specialist process which relieves compaction without disturbing the surface of the greens. This whole process took less than 3 hours and I doubt many members even noticed.
- Ø The new shoe cleaning compressor was installed
- Ø The two single seater buggies which were out of action have been assessed with one repaired and fully functional with the other scheduled for repair after Christmas
- Ø A programme of tree cutting, pollarding etc. has been specified and will be undertaken as soon as the equipment can be accessed. The work had to be postponed in September due to the contractor falling ill
- Ø A new safety fence to protect the house behind the 2nd green has also been designed with materials sourced to increase the height from 1.5M to 3.5M which will then allow the pins to be placed towards the rear of the green again as we are currently restricted to the front due to the regularity of stray balls into the property. This work will take place during November
- Ø Greens treatment through the winter months to maintain the green sward that we have enjoyed through the summer months due to Jonathan introducing new agents to improve overall health
I know from the feedback I have received that many members have been frustrated by the lack of progress other than the work done on the 5th the announcement work would begin last September. At council there is frustration too, however it must be pointed out that last September we had not fully specified or agreed what work should take place and its priority therefore could not communicate this effectively with the nominated contractor. In addition to this we would also have been in breach of environmental law as we did not have the correct exemptions in place even for the work done on the 5th where the new discharge into the brook was installed.
It is important that we have a clear plan, all exemptions and permits in place as well as a plan of how the course will be played and navigated whilst the work is undertaken. What we all must realise as members of AEGC is that the area occupied by Whitehall Brook which is a major feature of the course and our main point of all drainage discharge is part of the flood plain for the area and however we may not like this flooding a golf course is much more palatable to the Environment Agency than flooding properties. It is essential that the brook is properly maintained, free from vegetation and sediment so that it flows as freely as possible.
I have met with the environment agencies local manager and the enforcement officer to make sure that the EA are doing everything they can to support us, and they appreciate what we need to do to protect our course. Enforcement action is underway with a local householder where the brooks flow has been affected by the collapse of a retaining wall. We now have a clear understanding of what we can do and what we can’t do without permits etc. A positive relationship with the EA is extremely important as we look to improve drainage and the operation of the brook.
We have a comprehensive course report which sets out several priorities that we need to consider improving the course with the main recommendations focussed on the drainage particularly on the approach to the 4th, the slope down onto the 7th fairway and the first part of the 9th fairway. In addition, there is a proposal to install an attenuation pond behind the trees on the 7th and first tee which we are still not agreed upon until we fully investigate the dredging of the brook and the relationship and levels with the black brook.
I have committed to council that along with the head greenkeeper and the greens committee that we will put together a plan to tackle the hotspots mentioned earlier in late spring/early summer 2022. It is important to point out here and now that this will be intrusive and disruptive work, but the plan will include how seniors, ladies and club competitions will be prioritised. I can assure you all that the money set aside as reported at the AGM along with that raised by the generous donations of members is ring fenced for the drainage work only.
Ideally it would be great to do the work during the quieter winter months, but the high-water table prevents that happening as all work during the winter must be carried out manually with as little machine use as is non-essential otherwise the course would be destroyed in certain locations.
In addition, there are other aspects of work that can be done by hand and the greens staff have committed to push on improving paths, bridges and further localised drainage works.
During the spring and summer, myself and the greens committee will be looking to set up several working parties/days to carry out divot repairs, brook clearance and other general maintenance work. We will look to make these as much a social event as well as helping with course management.
It is essential that myself, the greens staff, and the committee are as approachable and transparent as we can possibly be. I will look to provide regular communications of why certain things are being done and why certain things can’t be done.
Going forwards if you have any suggestions for improvements (not simply complaints) then I or your committee would be pleased to hear them.
Kind Regards and good golfing
Neil. J, Chairman of Greens