My name is Mark Smith, I’ve been in this industry as a groundsman/greenkeeper for 20 years and have covered all this time at one venue. My role as Multi-sport Complex Manager was offered to me last May at Phoenix Sports and Recreation and since then I’ve been tasked with improving the whole complex and our team is keen to achieve this. Phoenix offers a full 18 hole golf course and practice facilities, cricket, 4 full size football pitches and 5 kids pitches of varying sizes, crown green bowls, archery, rounders pitches, fishing ponds, gym, squash courts and we even have a drama group. I have to maintain with my team of 6 groundsman/greenkeepers, 66 hectares of turf to facilitate the golf course, football, bowling, cricket, archery and rounders. Let’s just say that’s a struggle at times during the growing season, but who doesn’t love their role as a groundsman or greenkeeper.
A couple of topics to cover briefly on this blog post with topics covering the improving weather and the course conditions, greens maintenance and of course the topic on everyone’s mind, the dreaded Covid19.
Firstly after the poor autumn and winter, a dry forecast is what we wanted and looks like that’s what we are getting. Spring is in the air and the course should dry steadily as a consequence. Instead of counting mm of rainfall I can look at my other graph regarding Evapotranspiration (ETs). ETs is the sum of evaporation and plant transpiration from the Earth’s land to the atmosphere. Through winter low numbers mean little chance to dry especially you have no drainage and water falling from the heavens. This last week and the coming week have seen these numbers climb due to lengthening days and this strange orange thing appearing in the sky!.
All this fine weather means trollies have been allowed back on the course for anyone that really needs them, I’m sure it’s been a frustrating time for the ones that can’t play without trollies, next step buggies if we carry on trending the way we are but I can’t promise when. We have been working hard to cut the course and some areas are still too wet, don’t be shocked at the tyre lines from our mowers, it’s a case of cut now or lose the course because it will be too long for our machines to cut if we leave it any longer now growth has started to kick in.
All this fine spring weather has prompted us to begin spring renovations on the golf greens. Looking at the thatch levels from our test results, we have driven down Organic matter % so we are heading in the right direction to improving our greens performance even more year after year.
This means I could use smaller tines to remove less organic matter and have a faster recovery than previous years when we had big hollow cores and loads of sand waiting weeks for them to close and recover. We hit them with our new verticut units purchased this year (thanks to Ben for the investment) at 3mm depth to really pull up horizontal growth and pull a little organic matter out.
We then followed with the 6mm hollow cores to pull more OM and the cores were so small we blew them off with the blowers and I thank Phil plant one of our artisans for helping out.
Following the wet autumn and winter I collectively made the decision with my deputy Ady Hankin to vertidrain the greens to allow more oxygen deeper into the profile and allow some relief in case more heavy rains come (please don’t 🙏). Remember my last post where I explained oxygen to water ratio, well It’s has been the first deep tining of the greens since August due the rains so they was ready for it. We applied a 4-3-4 organic fertiliser with ammonium nitrogen for a fast response in low temperatures to give a fast recovery of our greens. Sand is always applied to our renovations of the greens and this one was no different, we applied roughly 20 tonne or 2.3 kg/m2 and all this was applied before the vertidrain entered the greens.
The sand was matted in and vibe rolled but this was hard to matt in due to the tonnage applied, which is standard for the first topdressing and we will continue to brush in next week until we see no sand on the surface then we can start to cut the greens again. The higher growth potential and the fertiliser we applied I’m confident we will see 100% recovery within 1 week then we can cut as normal and maintain surfaces so please have patience this is vital work.
I need to mention whats on everyone’s mind, Corvid19. This is going to have a minor impact on our golf course if we all comply with our following procedures and practices that the ground staff have put in place,we hoping to stay open as long as possible.
We tried to turn cups upside down but our cups taper where the flag enters so this wasn’t possible, so we came up with the idea of using some pipe lagging off social media when I saw other clubs using that method and feedback suggests it’s working well. We’ve made a few provisions and we need you to stick to them as this is the only way we will be able to stay open, without scare mongering but I’m right, the first death of corona from a golf course transmitting and we will be closed down for the foreseeable and could be for good 😳🥺. So please please stick to these rules and don’t drink cans in the car park shaking hands and hugging like I’ve heard from this weekend, because that will close us down 😡.
* wash hands before and after your round* keep a 2 meter distance between you and any playing partner. * don’t touch any course furniture including cups or flags, there’s no need to now.* do not shake hand after or before your round. * don’t share equipment like bushels or clubs.* don’t drink in the carpark before your round in groups. Don’t be the idiot that shuts us down, I promise you we will come out of the other side if everyone complies, golf is safe, people are not and that makes me angry and every other abiding member angry.
Please comply with the rules we have set in place and the provisions the ground staff and the club have set in place. STAY SAFE AND BE CAREFUL, stay a safe distance from fellow golfers and we will come out of the other side ok.
Hope you enjoyed the post and I will share more as I write them, I’m a big believer in communication being key in all aspects of life and work.
To see more blogs from Mark ,go to his blog http://www.phoenixgreensblog.co.uk/
Since this blog was written the government have provided new regulations and these regulations may over ride anything that is said within any of our blogs.