Happy new year to everyone, the golf courses are still here but it seems a little uncertain when we may re-open. The links are in reasonable order but the weather through November and December did not benefit the turf in any way, it has been very wet with ….mm of rain falling and in turn the cloud cover has further reduced daylight hours. The Dunluce greens have faired better than the Valley with some thinning of turf on Valley greens.
Our practices have been mirrored on each links so I can only put this down to the smaller greens by comparison and the volume of play, combined maybe with the Valley being very slightly more sheltered, meaning that temperature may be a degree or so higher and having slightly less air movement.
The loss of density has been due to loss of annual meadow grass which we would encourage during the growing season, but it is not ideal in winter months.
On a positive note, both courses greens have rolled well I think, given that we have rested them well by carrying out less mowing and rolling.
We are working with a smaller team at the moment with staff using a mixture of annual leave and furlough, but at this time, it feels right to have a smaller team on site with less contact and less risk to staff members.
The irrigation upgrade will continue once the second instalment of sprinklers and parts arrive this month, we just hope that this is not delayed by Brexit. Ideally, we would install while the links remains closed.
Dunluce greens remain in good condition for the time of year and any significant thinning of the sward has been where there is more annual meadow grass present, such as the new greens and green surrounds such as 4th, 6th, and the 17th where annual meadow grass is present.
The deep tine aeration work and sand filling was completed on greens 9, 11 & 14 but we found that by the time the sand was fully dry to fill the holes the dew was beginning to fall again. Any moisture at all makes this work difficult.
We plan to continue this work in February or March working on greens 1, 15 and the Ladies putting green.
Dunluce tees were over-seeded in late Autumn and have all been deep tine aerated last week, relieving any compaction which may have occurred during the season. The tees are in reasonable condition but again, they can be improved this year by increased over-seeding with fescue.
Fairways were top-dressed and brushed last week, this was the first of two planned applications and we aim to apply the next in February.
Rough mowing is now complete after a setback with the machine when the gearbox had to be repaired and bearings replaced. We hope to spring tine rake all of the roughs while the courses are closed.
We have checked all bunker sand levels on the Valley, and these seem to be satisfactory, we hope to check Dunluce this week. Re-building of bunkers has been slow to start but we hope to complete 2 bunkers on Dunluce 2nd this month. The bunkers will all be edged and tidied before the start of the season, this is something which we were not able to do last year due to the first lockdown, but this makes a big difference, giving a far tidier, shaper appearance.
We have carried out 2 top-dressing applications to the Valley greens through the end of December and the beginning of January which will assist in further drying surfaces, dew dispersants have been applied to greens throughout the links since the end of November which prevents dew from forming and discourages disease activity.
The Valley tees are being played from a mixture of summer and winter positions, Rathmore committee felt that the course played very short from some of the winter tees, so I agreed to continue use of summer tees on certain holes, to be reviewed again in January. When golf begins again, we will move all forward except for the par3 3rd & 9th.
Valley fairways, as with Dunluce, have received one topdressing application and another will follow in February/March.
Cutting of rough is now complete and spring tine raking will be carried out over the next month.