Summer has definitely arrived at Bush Hill with some glorious weather over the last few weeks for us all to enjoy. As always there has been no particular rhyme or reason to our weather pattern as we came out of a very cold and wet start to May straight into 5 and a half weeks without any rain. I remember driving home past Crews Hill one Monday during a thunder storm with the roads flooded thinking this will work wonders for the course only to come in the next day and see we had only recorded 1mm in our gauge, and this pattern has been the way over the past month with us missing the storms which have been around locally.
We did though get a very nice 8.5mm of rain last Tuesday which was most welcome and showed that if we have a touch of luck along the way we could keep the turf on the course healthy and strong, though time will tell how the summer pans out.
We have been very pleased with the greens this summer so far, with them looking and playing very good, there is of course always room for improvement and which is what my team and I will continuously strive to achieve.
One major plus for me has been that despite the long dry spell we have just had the greens have not required anywhere near as much irrigating as they did last summer in the drought which shows that our aeration and thatch management has things moving in the right direction.
The team has also noted when changing holes that the roots are beginning to push deeper into the rootzone which again is a good indicator that things are progressing how we would like.
We are also getting to a point now where the spiking we do is causing less disruption to the surface, with the 7mm solid tines we use in the season you can hardly see the tine holes after a day meaning we can continue to do this maintenance procedure without any concerns about it having a detrimental effect on golf.
You will notice from time to time one of the team out hand watering with a hose, this is not because there is an issue with the system but the fact that we are directly watering patches that require it, this is much better than using the sprinklers for longer as it means we don’t overwater the rest of the green that doesn’t need watering and saves us from wasting water which is a huge plus being a London based golf club in an area that will put in water usage restrictions when we get into long dry periods in the summer. The boys who are doing this job will from time to time require your patience as the job they are doing is very important for the health of the greens, so please give them the opportunity to move the hoses out of your way or quickly tidy up after they have finished the job.
We are now mowing the greens at 3mm and looking to bring out the turf iron a couple of times a week to keep the greens playing true and to add a bit of pace to them, so far the low height of cut is having no detrimental effects to the greens health, though we must always be wary of summer turf diseases such as Anthracnose which can have a big impact on greens as we head into stressful periods from heat and humidity.
We will be applying a granular fertiliser to the greens in the coming weeks as it is important to keep them strong and healthy during these times when the turf can come under severe stress form the weather conditions.
Having the greens in a healthy condition with deeper roots and reduced organic matter can be the best way to combat these diseases and with the works we have done in spring and continued over the early summer months this will certainly put us on the right path, we have currently applied around 70 tonnes of sand to the greens this year which is not far off our yearly total from last year so once again things are going in the direction we would of wanted.
Tees and Approaches
The tees and approaches have been in very good condition so far this summer. The addition of the divot boxes on some of the tees which receive the worst of the damage has also had a positive effect on the appearance and quality of the surfaces.
Please continue to use them as this will really help with keeping them to the standard we all want.
The fairways are in need of rain, if this rain would come then we would have them like a beautiful lush carpet. It isn’t just yet though so some areas are beginning to dry out but with just one day of decent rain in the last 6 weeks I would say that the fertiliser has done its job in strengthening them to slow down the droughting effect, the fertiliser will also help with recovery when the rain finally does arrive and we have wetting agent in stock to spray on the fairways before a wet period to aid a swifter recovery.
The new shapes that Leigh has cut into the fairways has also added to the presentation this season with us receiving plenty of positive comments.
One new area introduced this year is the areas of natural eco rough.
This is adding great presentation and definition to the course whilst also bringing in another challenge to your game.
We have carefully plotted the areas with both Leigh and Mark Watts doing a course walk before it was introduced to make sure it wouldn’t be too penal.
As we head into to warmer and usually drier part of summer the Eco rough areas will add a beautiful piece of definition to a parched course whilst having great value ecologically with wildlife and natural flowers thriving.
When we get to the end of the season we shall cut and collect from these areas to keep them clean and natural for reinstating the following year.
The bunkers are an area in which we have received the majority of constructive criticism this year.
We are looking to push hard next week to get as much fresh sand out as possible to improve this situation.
We have also had a contractor in to look at a Bunker improvement project across the course with the first phase of this booked in to start on the 24th August.
Andy Greenslade of AMG, is the same contractor who did the shaping on our new bunkers on the 2nd and 3rd hole will be the one again leading the project.
We are going to have 13 bunkers on the course cleaned out of the old contaminated sand, have some new shapes added in places, then have the bunkers lined with artificial turf before putting in a natural revetted turf similar to the new bunkers.
The final turfing and adding of sand will be finished off in-house by our team.
The bunkers that are planned to be done are the 5th (all 4), 8th (greenside), 9th (both greenside), 12th (greenside), 13th (both greenside) & 18th (3 greenside).
This work will take 4 or 5 weeks to complete with some holes to be on a temporary green whilst the works are undertaken.
I appreciate that this will cause some short-term disruption to the course which we will endeavour to keep to a minimum but will leave a long-term improvement to the appearance and playability of the course.
It is very exciting to be involved with a club that not only listens to the members comments and concerns but actively looks to act on them to give its members a better golf course for them to enjoy.
I will release a separate report prior to the works regarding the works and impact to the course during the works period.
We have unfortunately spotted some Oak Processionary Moth caterpillars in some of our Oak trees on the course.
These are an invasive species of moth which have been introduced from Europe in the last 15 to 20 years. They are predominantly found in London and the Home counties and the Forestry commission are actively trying to prevent them spreading out to other parts of the country.
In our area though these moths are common.
The main issue is when they are caterpillars they can cause irritation or rashes to skin or in severe causes difficulty in breathing.
This all stems from the hairs on the caterpillars, they also eat the leaves on the Oak trees and can damage the health of the trees. They do not turn into moths until September so until then you will notice that the affected trees are sprayed with a white dot and have a white line around them. Please take care when retrieving your ball from this area.
We have followed the government protocols and registered the OPM with the forestry commission and are currently seeking advice on the best way to deal with the issue.
That’s all for now, a massive thank you to Leigh, Bernie, Tyler, Charlie and Sam for their excellent work this summer so far and we all hope you continue to enjoy your golf at Bush Hill over the coming months.