When we closed on Christmas day, I am not sure that anyone thought that closure would go on for this long and I think the same could be said for the pandemic in general.
It should be said that all staff have remained well throughout, and there have been no cases within the greenkeeping team, working in pairs and being apart as much as possible. Two breaks which we usually have in winter months has been replaced with 1 short tea break to do our best in reducing contact among staff.
While lockdown is all becoming a little tedious, we have been busy on the links, making some improvements here and there.
We have carried out cutting of roughs but have also raked these areas with a tractor mounted rake (spring tine harrow) removing moss and thinning grass. This has been followed by scarifying which is now complete.
This is more work than we have ever carried out on the roughs, so I am hopeful that it will be thinner this season!
All sprinkler heads on Dunluce greens and surrounds, tees and fairways have now been replaced, a process which we started last winter.
The Valley tees have also been replaced, which will go a long way to improving the quality of grass on teeing surfaces and we plan to replace all the fairway and greens heads over the next 2 years.
The irrigation team (photo is missing Mark Williamson) have done an unbelievable job in replacing all the heads, the quality of work has been impeccable, far better than any contractor work I have ever seen.
This winter we installed:
239 Fairway and greens “Infinity” heads
257 Tees “B Series” heads
Last winter we installed:
263 Fairway and greens “Infinity” heads
94 Tees “B Series” heads
TOTAL 853 Sprinkler heads have been replaced with no assistance from contractors.
When I started work at RPGC I highlighted Chris Calvin for the position of Irrigation technician, he watched and learned from contractors during the construction and had some training through Toro.
He has been brilliant, taking on the irrigation system in full, carrying out all work except the electricals. Our system is now in far better than it was before, and we save all the expense of bringing people over from England for repairs and the work completed, is in my opinion, far superior.
Chris is now also able to repair sprinkler heads and valves rather than a full replacement.
Aaron Bell, with Gary McDowell have completed a huge amount of work since the new year with Aaron on our digger and Gary on the tractor and trailer, renovating the 3rd and 9th paths on the Valley, adding sand scrapes to both holes, and creating bunkers and target greens on the range as well as new mounding on the left of holes 6 and 16.
Some of the other team members (Bradlie, Conor, Andy, Karle, and Thomas) have built the range bunkers and turfed the greens and we will look forward to member feedback, I think that another bunker on the left side of the range would help to create the look of a fairway.
3 new rain/lightning shelters have arrived, and when time allows, we plan to install these at:
Dunluce 8th tee, which will also serve 15th green/Calamity tee.
Dunluce 13th tee, in the banking.
Valley 3rd tee.
The gravel path has been removed and this will all be shaped with the digger to leave a natural mounded area and improve the look from both the 3rd and the 6th holes. The greenkeepers would have followed the gravel path out onto the fairway but there were safety concerns as you cannot see people teeing off the 6th. This route marked in green will be safer than before.
Sand scrapes added to either side of the fairway, where bunkers from the original design (pre H.S. Colt) were present but had grown over. These bunkers would have been in play for a different layout, but we felt that it would enhance the look of the hole. Here are is an ariel picture before and a picture from the tee of the finished work.
12th hole on the left-hand side there is a hollow in the rough which becomes wet in the winter. This is blind when playing a second shot from the left, also this looks very artificial so we plan to fill this in and create another sand area which should look much more natural.
16th hole again on the left side we have added a stone path to the sand pit, and we felt that the left side of the hole level with the sand pit was lacking some definition so have added some low mounding which frames the hole.
17th hole, we plan to create a new path from the steps in front of the tee to the medal tee, hiding it as best possible behind the dunes.
It seems a lifetime ago now, but before Christmas, we re-contoured the grass path from the tarmac road to the fairway on Dunluce 1st hole, reducing the sharp slopes that were present.
There was an area at the back left of the 6th green where a ball leaving the green could end up with an unplayable lie. This has been re-contoured, so a shot from there should now be playable.
The dune on the right of the 7th has been sprigged with marram grass.
14th Tee steps have been replaced.
18th tee steps are being replaced, due for completion in the next 2 weeks.
18th green – gravel exit paths have been removed, the one on the back right of the green has been closed off and the one back left has been replaced with turf.
Bare areas across the range have been re-turfed and 2x target greens have been added (125Yds & 175Yds) with 3 bunkers on the right-hand side, to improve the visual aspect.