From Richard Hill, Course Manager: The single biggest project that we were able to carry out during lockdown was the installation of fairway irrigation on the 1st and 18th holes. This is part of trial to see how the installation of fairway irrigation impacts the course, after which there are plans to expand fairway irrigation to the whole course.
Installing irrigation means there has been a level of disruption to the playing surface but it will settle down over time and the warmer temperatures of April and May will help it to recover, with some added help from the greenkeeping team.
Range and turf nursery: Also achieved during lockdown was turfing the last part of the driving range and we will now focus on getting the range ready for use. We have a pathway to build, irrigation to move and add, along with a turf nursery to construct at the top of the driving range.
The latter is an important area for us heading into the future as we will be able to farm our own turf for repairs to the greens, tees, approaches and fairways. Once the turf nursery is established, we will no longer have to take turf from the putting green to repair the greens.
Sand: Historically we have always carried out our scheduled greens’ maintenance in March and this year was no different. Due to the lockdown, we decided to tackle this in a slightly different way. We carried out a double solid tine and dress in order to get as much sand into the greens as possible.
Because of lockdown, we were able to heavily dress with impunity and take more time working the sand into the surface. We then carried out the entire process again. In total we were able to work approximately 70 tons of sand into the greens. The greater goal is to get 160 tons, and hopefully more, out there before the middle of October. This will be achieved with a little–and–often strategy, outside of the big maintenance windows, with some additional work being carried out along the way.
Deer: Unfortunately, lockdown also saw significant deer damage across the greens, especially on the 5th, 7th & 10th. All of this has been repaired and, as the temperatures start to increase, the patch repairs will soon heal and tie in nicely to the surfaces.
We also made the putting green slightly bigger effectively returning it to its original shape. The deer damage patch repairs had, over the years, reduced the size of the lower level. This year’s repair patches were taken from the chipping green, which we then re-turfed with turf cut from the grass area being used in the patio extension. The aim being to increase and improve the area of the chipping green, while not losing parts of the putting green.
Trees: Over the years we have seen several limb and large branch failures to oak trees on the 6th hole. Oak trees like to hang on to dead wood, a lot of this has now been removed and the large oak on the carry to the 6th green has had a sizeable reduction, the tree on the right has not. As you may know any significant tree work we carry out is decided on in conjunction with the Palace staff, this time we were also allowed to reposition the dead tree trunk that for years has laid at right angles to the 6th fairway. This has now been spun 90 degrees so is now not such an obstacle when playing from the right rough.
Paths: We also finished the pathway behind the 9th tee and repaired the potholes on the 1st and 11th pathways. We do have some pathway repairs to carry out especially over the soak–aways, notably on the 4th, 8th,9th and 13th and on the way to the driving range.
Machinery: In March we took delivery of a new fairway mower, which will most certainly help with the presentation of the fairways in the future.
We will start to divot the fairways soon and, as the temperatures start to rise, we will start to see them fill in and recover. We have lots of deer damage across the golf course to repair as well especially on the fairways.
Finally, there is a lot of hard work that goes into maintaining a golf course and it would be very much appreciated if golfers would repair their pitch marks, replace any divots and put any broken tees and litter into the bins provided. And if anyone speaks deer, please have a word!