GOOD START TO THE GREENKEEPING YEAR!
It would be out of character if I didn`t start a report by talking about the weather, but it really is one of the most important facets of our job – and the most unpredictable! March came in like a lion so we were pretty sure we would get a good spell, and it really was stunning for 10 whole days. Good thing too – I was on holiday for the second half of that! The Mach Dunes greenkeeping team did a great job of judging the watering that was required in my absence. Even though we know we`ll never suffer from a drought in Scotland in March, we have a lot of tees out there currently that have only recently been turfed, so it was very important to keep a close eye on them. It’s easy to get caught out when you`ve spent all winter moaning about the driving range being flooded!!
It seems we are back to typical April showers weather now (I`m writing this on April 1st- no fooling, I really am) which suits us just fine as the mixed conditions allow us to get into all the work that we need to do to set ourselves up for the season ahead. Just this last week we have got our first topdressing and our first application of wetting agent down, and it`s pouring rain today to wash that in nicely. All we need now is a bit of heat to germinate some of the seed we`ve planted into the 5th green as we try everything we can to get it back into play as soon as possible. It suffered during the storms in January and has lost a bit of cover – it probably wouldn`t be that bad to putt on, but if we open it too early it will suffer badly from foot traffic and will get worse before it gets better. Hopefully it`ll recover pretty quickly – it’s already thickening up.
Those of you who haven`t played the course in a while will see quite a few tees have been rebuilt. Some of these were just weak, so we lifted them and added a bit of our homebrewed root-zone and covered them in new turf. The rooting we’ve seen already shows that the bought-in turf likes our sand/soil mixture a lot! There were one or two tees that we moved slightly or re-contoured; we moved the yellow tee at the 10th slightly left to make better use of the stunning view and Craig rebuilt the 14th tee to make much better use of the available space. There have been many other things going on out there but I`m not going to spoil the surprise for you.
I firmly believe that the work we have done this winter has helped make the course even more fun to play, and in many cases, also made it fairer. If you haven`t been down for a while, then you should pay us a visit and come and see for yourself.
The annual spring team competition on the 23rd/24th April would be a good date to put in your diary for a visit, this is being held in conjunction with Dunaverty GC. If you fancy this competition and you want to enter or find out more why not give Lorna a call at the Golf House (01586810058) and or email her for details. Lorna has recently been promoted to Senior Golf House Assistant, from now on she will be your contact at the Golf House.
AUGUSTA SYNDROME…IS IT DEAD AND BURIED?
We greenkeepers always dreaded the Masters. Not because we didn`t enjoy watching it as much as the next man, but because we all felt pressure from our members to produce ideal golfing conditions as soon as Augusta came on the telly – even though (as far as we were all concerned) it was still the end of winter and nothing was growing. It seems to me though that over recent times, the threat of “Augusta Syndrome” has become a little less overbearing than it used to be and I think this may be due to two things.
Firstly, I think we all start our spring preparation work just a little bit earlier than we used to. I don`t know if this is a subconscious reaction to Augusta Syndrome on our part, or if we are all bowing down under the weight of peer pressure because we don`t want our members to see the greenkeeper down the road getting out of the traps before we do – or maybe the last few winters haven`t ended quite as badly as we thought they had – but we seem to be willing to break out the topdressing and knock down the height of the mowers just a little bit earlier than we used to. Ride-on rollers help too – if an early season roll or two fits into your program and doesn`t cause any residual damage, then what is the harm in giving your members a wee treat around Masters week? I haven`t had mine out yet because some of our greens are a bit fragile around the edges and the rolling action can be quite harsh to new roots, but as I said earlier, the first sand and wetting agent is on and the greens got their winter coat ripped off them yesterday. I hope I don`t get a fortnight of Easterly wind now, that would serve me right!
The second reason I think Augusta Syndrome is not as much of an issue as it used to be is because our members get bombarded with golf coverage all year round now. Historically, The Masters was the first televised event of the year to hit our screens, and it got everybody keen for the game again. People who had stashed their clubs under the stairs after the last medal in September rushed to dust them off and get back out there, only to discover that the greens they had left in prime condition when they gave up for the winter – instead of pulling on an extra jumper – had deteriorated through six months of relentless rain and precious little sunlight. It`s changed days now though – we can now turn on Sky Sports (other sports broadcasters are available) any Thursday through Sunday and be entertained by our favourite golfers playing on prime surfaces in exotic locations from Honolulu to Hanoi. The constant drip-feed is diluted in comparison to the one-off hit we used to get from being flung straight up Magnolia Drive after half a year of cold turkey (that`s an addiction reference, not a Christmas one!), and I think it does get us greenkeepers off the hook a bit. It is still the year`s first major, and it is still a fantastic spectacle, but it just doesn`t seem like such a big boot into spring as it used to before we all became utterly spoiled by the widespread coverage emanating from our 50-inch flat screens.
Writing reports on a monthly basis does inevitably mean that sometimes the author will be behind the times. It can`t be helped. Despite the relative time-lapse, it would be remiss of me though if I did not finish this frivolous report on a sombre note by paying tribute to my friend Colin Chrystie, who sadly and suddenly passed away a few weeks ago. Unfortunately for me, I only had the opportunity to know this great character for a short period of time, but I enjoyed every minute of his company and latterly we really had become good friends. He was incredibly helpful to me when I first moved into town, introducing me to people he knew and recommending people to me who might be able to make my move here easier. His influence on the early success of Machrihanish Dunes cannot be underestimated, and the friendly welcome that everybody from first-time visitor to member would receive from him serves as a model for anyone employed in a position of customer care. He will be sadly missed by all who had the great pleasure of knowing him.
Mach Dunes Golf Club