Golf Course Update - in order to keep members fully updated of developments on the golf course, we will be distributing a course update following every Committee Meeting.
Course Update October 2018
Greens have been scarified in two directions and hollow-cored then over-seeded with colonial bent grass twice.Top-dressing has taken place four times with fertiliser and seaweed applied and wetting agents applied to re-wet dry areas. Worn/dead areas will be re-turfed with existing turf from the course to match in better and new turf will be bought in to replace the old. Dead grass on bunker faces is being dug out and replaced. Tees and approaches have been hollow-cored, scarified and over-seeded with rye/fescue mix and heavily top-dressed and fertilised with slow release compound. The yellow tee at the 3rd will be re-turfed, and if no improvement to the 6th, 8th and 11th tees, these will be re-turfed as well. The 18th medal tee will also be levelled and slightly enlarged
Following an extensive search for greens turf of sufficient quality and type to replace dead areas on the greens, the decision has been taken to lift turf from the back half of the 16th Green to repair all other greens areas, replacing this turf as supplies become available. This work will start w/c 22 October.
GOLF COURSE Q & A
Much has been spoken about the condition of the course since the start of the year, and here we attempt to answer as many of the questions members’ have been asking (and some that haven’t been asked) and also to clarify some of the popular misconceptions as well.
Q) Whenever winter works are carried out; invariably they are not completed by the start of the season in particular tee construction. Why is this?
A) Over recent years all tees have been rebuilt or extended but these works are not only weather dependant, but growth dependant. If construction starts at the end of the season, to minimise disruption to the core season and works are carried out by our own staff to minimise cost, once completed, the turf needs a minimum of 6-8 weeks to stabilise and root into the ground in good growing conditions. The cut height has also to be kept high to allow turf to thicken out and establish. Recent spring weather conditions have been very cold with little growth thus delaying opening.
Q) At the end of last season, there was damage to the greens from a spillage of hydraulic oil, why has it taken so long to repair?
A) Last November we had a hydraulic bust pipe on our top-dressing/sanding machine. This burst resulted in very hot clear oil being spilled on several greens. The burst was impossible to see from an operator’s position as it was at the rear of the vehicle and covered by sand. The resulting scars and lines were impossible to re-turf as they were very narrow and widespread. Aeration and seeding was carried out in late spring when growth returned but recovery was very slow due to lack of water and dry conditions.
Q) We had a cold and windy start to the season in April, were the greens and approaches cut too low for the conditions?
A) Greens and approaches were cut at standard heights as in previous years but due to a very cold/slow spring after the Beast from the East storms, growth was very slow and surfaces uneven. Frequencies of cuts were reduced and hand-cutting was done and greens were rolled in place of cutting to reduce stress on the turf.
Q) Why was more water not put on the tees and greens when it was needed most?
A) This is not a simple question to answer in one sentence as a number of contributing factors worked against us. Our existing ‘irrigation’ system is nearly 40 years old and not fit for purpose, with greens being watered by hand held hoses with only enough pressure for one green at a time (20-30 minutes per green), mainly through the night and early mornings prior to golf course play. Staff continuously worked extra unpaid man-hours out-with normal schedules to try and improve the situation but this was only as the water supply would allow. Coverage is very limited but the overriding failing being that our storage tank simply can’t hold enough water or fill quickly enough once empty (6 hours to re-fill). We replaced our antiquated pump which was effective in getting better pressure to parts of the course, but this had the effect of depleting water from the storage tank even quicker.
Q) Could we not have used bowsers?
A) Gleneagles have 2 bowsers which they fill from their ponds, but our ponds are too small to do this – we even contacted Scottish Water to try an increase flow to our storage tank, the Fire Service for emergency water from their hydrants as our own water supply was insufficient. SEPA would not allow water removal from the burn in large amounts. Average water required to water greens and tees per night with proper sprinklers for 5 minutes is 40-50 thousand litres! Added to this, our tractors are too small to pull large bowsers.
Q) So we are now spending in the region of £250K on an irrigation system. Is that really necessary or is this a knee-jerk reaction to this year’s conditions?
A) We have been aware that the current system has for a long time, not been fit for purpose. The Course Manager and Greens Convener have for many years been stressing this, but in previous year’s the dry spells have been confined to two to three weeks at a time and the course has recovered over the summer. In August 2017 we commissioned an irrigation consultant to advise on the best practice for ensuring adequate water to all parts of the golf course so we already knew what needed to be done. However as the summers are becoming warmer and drier, and climate change is now a reality and much publicised and commented in the media, the inescapable fact is that this work now needs to be carried out. Lesser systems are available which don’t give coverage to tees and approaches but we are endeavouring to put in a system that will get water to all parts of the course whilst affording value for money.
Q) Expenditure of that magnitude should surely need to be approved at the AGM?
A) In terms of the Constitution there is no requirement for approval to be sought at the AGM where the cost will be funded through normal Club borrowings. It does mean however, that any potential Clubhouse improvements will have to wait until additional funding is available, though the first phase of that was always subject to the old water storage tank for the old irrigation system being removed.
Q) So when are the works going to take place and how much disruption to the golf course will there be?
A) Work has already started with a borehole having been sunk sunk adjacent to the 15th fairway. The water pressure is far in excess of what we had initially expected, being 20-30 thousand litres per hour from a 125mm wide, and 75 metres deep well. The water quality is excellent and could be used to service the Clubhouse at a later date. The tank base and storage tank will be installed shortly and the installation of pipework and sprinklers will be 6-8 weeks, weather dependant. However the irony is that we are not alone in our requirements for irrigation and all of the companies approached by the irrigation consultant working on our behalf are unable at this stage to advise definitive costings and potential start dates due to prior commitments. Disruption will be kept to a minimum if the conditions allow as the machinery used is specific to the work – and most mainline pipework will be done out-with playing areas. The most intrusive damage will be around sprinkler installations.
Q) What other benefits to the golf course will this irrigation system offer?
A) The key benefit will undoubtedly be more consistent greens with the advantage of being able to fertilise or top-dress and wash in rather than waiting for rain. Vastly improved grass cover on tees and quicker divot repair for overall better surfaces with improved visual appearance.
Q) Is there an on-going plan for course development?
A) There has always been an on-going plan for course improvement generally done in-house at considerably reduced costs compared to outside contractors being employed. An architect has been consulted (Howard Swan) for a future bunker refurbishment plan and course layout re-design subject to financial affordability.
Rain – June 33mm – only 4 days rain
Rain – July 39mm - only 5 days rain
Rain – August 34mm – only 6 days light rain
Rain – September 68mm