Our monthly golf course update from our Head Greenkeeper, Simon Freeman:
The weather was kind to us in November – we experienced a good amount of sunshine and relatively few of those bleak, drizzly days which can really suck the energy out of a golf course. Any rain that we had came down in torrents, but that doesn’t hurt us nearly as badly as relentless drizzle does. We’ve always felt that a good downpour actually freshens the place up, as it flushes toxic substances that linger about the surface down to the subsoil where they can’t do any damage to grass plants.
Because the weather has been so good, we haven’t really backed off from cutting greens. Of course, we have raised the cutting height considerably in order to maximise the plants’ ability to photosynthesise during this period of low light and short days, but we have been mowing often enough to ensure that the greens have remained relatively true. You might have to hit the ball a bit harder, but if you get the pace of the greens early on, you can hole a lot of putts out there!
The remainder of our regular mowing program has now been shelved, and we have been utilising the extra man hours that we have at our disposal by focusing on our winter construction program. The first job we took on was the re-routing of the drainage around the Golf House and 1st tee area, with the ultimate goal of making it look as natural as possible whilst ensuring that far more of the drainage water from the fields above meanders its way down to the 17th gully and the dune slacks at the left of the 11th. To get this project to work, we had to considerably deepen the ditch across the 9th fairway, so this has become a proper hazard now. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
The Machrihanish Dunes greenkeeping team remodel the ditch on the 9th fairway.
Since completing this job, we have moved onto the bunkers on the 8th. We have remodelled the greenside trap (this is now two separate pots), and have completely rebuilt the one 50 yards short left of the green. We will continue with this bunker work throughout the winter, but we still have some bridges to move, some tees to alter, some more pathways to renovate (following the good work that has been done over the last two winters) and a program to replace all the bunker and tee stairs in an agreed uniform style. As always, we welcome any questions and suggestions, so if you have any ideas or if there’s anything in particular you think should be altered, please do come and see us.
The two new pot bunkers at the left of the 8th green. All they need is turf.
The remodelled bunker to the left of the 8th fairway.
Despite the fact that we have been enjoying a great spell of weather, we are aware that it will not last forever and that winter really is just around the corner. With this in mind, we have taken the decision to close the 5th hole as of Monday 8th December, and we will revert to using the tee at the back of the Golf House as the 1st tee, just as we have done in previous years (playing to the pitching green), and then ask you to walk from the 4th green to the 6th tee. The 5th green still looks in reasonable condition, but, despite the new sea-wall banking and the winter fencing, it is still very exposed. We feel that resting it in this manner gives us a much greater chance of coaxing it through to the spring without sustaining too much damage.
The 5th green, gleaming in the morning sunshine on November 30th.
I hope the weather stays with us and you enjoy your golf at Machrihanish Dunes in December!