Updated March 2020
The Greens continue to be maintained at 6mm, but are now starting to show the signs of stress from the extreme winter that we are enduring. The nonstop rain has washed much of the available nutrients through the soil profile. We are out spraying today to get some much needed nutrient and stress relief back into the plant.
The crow damage has again been significant this year, but when we had the kites up, thankfully they did keep the crows at bay and help keep the damage down. Our permission to fly the kites ended on the 29th of February so we’re hoping that the crows have now found an alternate food source elsewhere. It was around this time last year that the crows finally moved on. We still have a few patches to repair in a few of the greens surrounds.
The fairways also took a beating from the crows and will take a while to recover once we can get some seed to germinate in them.
February was by far the wettest month we’ve had for a long time, with 206mm (8 ¼ “) of rain falling on the already saturated burrows.
We currently have 46 out of 83 bunkers out of play and standing water all over the course. Efforts to pump water away as of yet has not been effective, but we will continue to try.
Needless to say, with these very soft and wet conditions, the amount of play the course still receives, horses galloping down wet fairways and being too wet to harrow the animal mess, the course isn’t looking its finest at the moment.
With only four weeks to go until Bideford Bay we’re going to have to pull a rabbit out of a hat to get the course and greens up to scratch, but rest assured we will do our very best to do so.
We have now come to the end of our winter works programme, which this year consisted of:
The construction and landscaping of 6 completely new bunkers on the new 7th hole and the 9th hole. This involved the hand lifting and replacement of over 1000m2 of turf
Filling in and turfing of 3 existing bunkers on 7 & 9
Re-shaping the 8th ditch and replacing pipework through the path to prevent/reduce the risk of the 8th green flooding. This has already been tested and proven during the recent storms. (We still need to soften the appearance of the pipes)
Build and level 2 new tees and enlarge 1 existing tee.
Excavate and plumb in new irrigation to the tees and the new 7th approach
Replace and build 9 new mat standings on Pimpley (additional new drainage work also had to be laid to achieve this)
Trim back brambles on the 14th and 15th holes and remove tall scrub obscuring the views on the new 7th and the 12th hole.
All of the above has been carried out whilst also trying to manage the day to day jobs of running and repairing the frequent damage to the course.
The practice nets by the first tee are going to be receiving a makeover, with a new net and teeing area. Astro turf will cover the inside of the bays and surround the perimeter of the net. The inside of the bays will also be sloped to allow the ball to roll back to your feet.
As a result of all of the above I am in total agreement that the course is looking a little tired at the moment. Let us remember however that we are still open 365 days per year. Many courses aren’t even considering opening and the ones that are, will be knee deep in mud. I appreciate it is a nuisance that 2 or 3 paths are muddy, however with a finite staff resource we have to prioritise that resource daily to ensure the course is kept in play. Not for one minute suggesting that these issues should not be addressed, and they will be in due course, as soon as some more pressing issues are dealt with (the paths have been swept today).
I welcome all the comments from the survey both positive and negative. We must however consider the time of year that the survey has been completed, and a lot of the comments are reflective of the winter months.
Most of the comments with regards to the greens are positive and the greens have improved significantly over the last couple of years; our investment in improving the grass species having a direct impact on ball roll and pace. This was very evident for Bideford Bay and the August meeting. At this time of year, the greens struggle simply because the grass doesn’t grow so it does not recover from wear and tear. The extreme weather and the fact that we have had one of the wettest years has meant that the ground has been extremely soft for many months and therefore easy to damage; considering how much play the greens still receive and high rates of un-repaired pitch marks, the ball continues to roll relatively well.
We are a ‘natural’ links golf course, in addition to this we are grazed by horses and sheep, so unfortunately animal mess is an unavoidable addition to the course. Every effort is made to reduce the amount of mess through regular chain harrowing. Again this winter has proved very difficult as many areas are so wet that driving the harrows over the wet ground would do more harm than good. In addition to the mess, horses galloping over exceptionally soft fairways has left unsightly hoof marks, but due to the amount of more pressing work this is not an area we are able to prioritise on a regular basis.
The above issues are more evident in the winter months (especially this year) when the ground conditions are soft and machinery is not running over the surfaces as frequently. Once things start to dry out and we fall back into our regular maintenance regime, course condition will again improve accordingly.
The bunkers have long been a contentious issue at RND and last year I feel we made significant improvements to how they were presented and how they played. Additional sand was placed in them to allow more of an up slope to play from. This along with new shallower face angles was generally well received by the members. This year the tops of all the worn/damaged bunkers have been rebuilt. As we move into the spring and the water recedes, significant work will be required to make the bunkers playable again.
Once the weather improves work can start again on getting the bunkers back into shape. With the course alterations under our belt this winter we feel sure that the bunkers will return to an acceptable state as we progress through the year.
We thank the members for your patience and understanding as our greens team continue to do the best we can to complete our major works, thus making long term improvements to the course, whilst also balancing the need to present the course in best the possible condition we can given the recent weather.
The Greens Staff.