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