January, February, March and April
The low months of the greenkeepers year, if the winter has been hard, the moral of the greenkeeping team is at a low ebb, day after day of hard frosts, whether to put the greens on temps or not (if you use them) and the frustrated golfers peering out at you through layers of thermal clothing and numerous woolly hats, looking like something advertising automobile tyres, saying “can’t you do anything about this awful weather.” To comments like these, I usually smile and shrug my shoulders replying that we are in the hands of Mother Nature and she is a very fickle mistress.
A few years back
When we had just started the course alterations, the weather changed dramatically from warm one day to 10 inches (250mm) of snow and frost. This continued throughout the winter months and started to thaw early March.
The Good Old Days
Two days after the thaw began a member of a local club started to moan in the Proshop about the greens being uneven and bobbly. Frank Hill the pro at the time enquired where the gentleman had been during the winter months. To this, the golfer replied, “In Florida since mid-October and got back only yesterday.”I watched Frank take the Gentleman to one side and explain about the weather conditions the course had endured over the past few months. As I watched Frank explain the conditions, you could see a thought passing across his mind, just which bodily orifice was he going to put the golf club the guy was carrying. (The Good Old Days)
This year so far
Has been a mild winter with only a few frosty days, which has allowed us to get on with a good deal of bramble and bracken clearance, the refurbished bunkers on the 8th and 17th have been planted up with colonies of heather and top dressed with ericaceous compost. The new steps on the 11th and 16th tees are finished.
Out on the course
The Verti-draining will continue through March to keep the surfaces open and allow the surface water to drain away through the profile. The greens for the most part have remained firm and fast with a good cover of grass, we are resting the 9th at the moment by putting the hole on the approach to allow the Autumn/ Winter fertiliser to work its magic. One of the new storage units at the greenkeepers complex will be ready by late February, which will be a great relief to the team.
Tin Hat Time
The month of April is what I refer to as ‘Tin Hat Time’ where all eyes turn to America and the golf course at Augusta. Huge wide screen televisions are found in golf club bars up and down the United Kingdom, allowing the members to analyse every shot the golf professionals play.The course is always in immaculate condition and the greens as smooth as glass, as the games continue and the tournament reaches its climax a hushed silence descends in the room, only to be broken by one bright spark at the bar who announces to one and all “Why can’t our greens putt like that at this time of the year?”On hearing this I dampen the urge collect the fully charged cattle prod from the greenkeepers shed and giving the individual a good seeing too
I explain to the learned gentleman and his associates, that by all means he could have the course in that condition, all we have to do is move the entire Golf course two thousand miles nearer to the equator, employ 60 extra greenstaff and gardeners to maintain the grounds and course. Spend six million dollars on grass seed alone and I nearly forgot put the fees up to three quaters of a million pounds a year to pay for it all. We have some excellent playing venues in the UK, Thorpeness is one of them. Please come for a visit.
It’s time you dusted down your golf clubs that have been hibernating at the back of the garage, pop in and see Christine in the Proshop to get a lesson, she will get you ready for the new season ahead and while you are there take a look at some of the new clothing available so you can look great while playing our course. Enjoy your golf. Ian