Scenes from the Greens

A greenkeeping blog from Witney Lakes Resort

Stay up to date with everything happening in and around the course during the 2022 golf season with our greenkeeper’s blog! We’ll be sharing news of upcoming projects, new team members and member notices to enhance your golf game.

August 2022

So with the last time we saw any rain being early June at the time of writing, I’m sure you’ve all noticed the problems we are facing on the course. Managing the water so we can keep the greens in good order is a balancing act to say the least, and we must do this so that we don’t run out of water. We’re now getting to a situation as bad as the summer of 2018, when we went 12 weeks without rain.

Greens

I have decided to push back the greens maintenance from August to September due to the weather conditions, as this work is vital to the ongoing program in place to reduce organic matter in our greens. If conditions don’t improve by September, this will be moved again to October. With how unpredictable the weather is becoming, we always have to be ready to adapt to change certain jobs and we will do our best to communicate this with you all.

Generally speaking, the greens are doing well for this time of year with only a couple breaking out in a little disease. The team is also managing dry patches across certain greens with hand watering (a lot). A double verti cut, spike and feed were done this month to help greens cope through this period.

We’ve had a couple of problems with the irrigation system such as sprinklers breaking, but being replaced quickly so as not to cause too many issues.

Tees/approaches

Starting this month we will be watering tees just to keep them alive. As we are now seeing high levels of wear across most of the tees and with no rain forecast we are unsure when we will see any recovery to these areas. Again, this is a balancing act with what water we have, so they won’t be being watered to a point where they are a lovely green and soft, but rather so the grass doesn't die completely. Work will intensify to these areas as soon as weather turns, with a scarify to pull away dead grass so that we can then overseed and divot.

Other

The practice net and bunker are in full use now and great to see golfers using both these areas. A main water line was installed to the first tee and I hope you’ve all been taking full advantage of it in the last month.

Bunkers

Bunkers are always a big talking point through the seasons, with discussions about the amount of sand in each bunker as well as what it takes to maintain them.

Every spring a full edging is done with sand moved around bunkers evenly; a 2' lip between grass and sand is what we aim to achieve as this helps keep a sharp tidy edge but also stops grass being able to grow into the sand easily. A complete spray of sand with weed killer is done to stop any roots retaking.

Every two weeks bunker edges are strimmed, once a month weed killer is applied, and every week we rake bunkers whilst also keeping an eye out for sand falling back down slopes to push up when possible.

What we all need to remember is that in summer when sand dries out completely there is no structure left in sand, so as you plant your feet to get a firm base your feet will bury down to the base of the bunker and sand covering your feet will make it seem as though there is much more sand than there is.

Also sand will fall down slopes as there is no structure due to lack of moisture, so there will be more sand at bottoms of slopes which we do try to push back up, but as you can imagine does not stay there for long.

June 2022

May and June are when we start seeing much more consistent temperatures, along with finally getting the rainfall we have been waiting for. The course has grown in amazingly over the last month. Thanks to the team’s efforts, it is probably in the best shape we’ve ever seen it. So please do enjoy it out there at the moment.

The buildup to the Club Championships saw us grow out the long rough, which has been great for the visuals whilst punishing the leaked shots. However, now is the time for a little rough management, which means we need to cut it down to let regrow so that it doesn’t thicken or fall over, becoming tangled and leading to more lost balls and slower golf.

This will also be sprayed to reduce the amount of clover and daisies throughout the rough which is starting to take over the grass in some areas. The main aim with the rough is to keep it thin and wispy so that it creates a challenge whilst remaining visually pleasing.

Greens

The start of the month saw us double scarify the greens which helps to reduce poa seed heads while standing the grass up and thinning them out a little. We then do a light seed with bent grass which is a continued programme we have been following for the past five years.

A light sanding is then done which will smooth and firm the surface off. This was all completed in perfect time for the weather which saw recovery within days and seed germination within 10 days.

We have been cutting greens at 3mm for a while now and have had speeds at a consistent 9 across all greens. For the recent Club Championships, we lowed to 2.5mm and double cut, which saw the greens run at 10 on the stimp.

We will do our very best to keep the greens in the shape they are for as long as possible throughout the season, and thank you all for the kind comments to myself and the team.

Tees, surrounds & fairways

We gave these a light fertilizer and iron to help manage growth with some selective herbicide to help kill off unwanted weeds in the swad.

Member notices

A couple of requests from the greenkeepers which will really help keep the course in the best condition possible for all to enjoy:

  • Please remember to repair yours and one another’s pitch marks; if everyone playing the course does this there will be no pitch marks on the greens.
  • Please rake bunkers if you go in them and replace divots.

Thank you for your cooperation, and here’s to a great summer of golf ahead.

May 2022

With a good month of weather behind us we made the decision to take off winter rules from the beginning of April.

Greens are starting to dry up a little which I’m sure you have noticed, as they won’t be holding as much as they were in the winter months. The reason we hold off irrigating a little is that we wait for ground temperatures to increase so that the cold water doesn’t cool them off. It’s also so that the roots have a chance to recover and grow down into the surface as far as possible, as too much water will allow the roots to stay shallow resulting in an unhealthy green, which is not what we what.

New flags, pins and cups have been put out on the course, so it would be great to get your feedback on them. Maintenance on greens went well, and though now fully recovered we haven't yet seeded them due to several frosty mornings last month - so now with temperatures starting to increase this will be completed.

Our new equipment is all in full action out on the course which is really helping get the course into shape. Our new apprentice Isaac has now started and is doing a great job so far - I’m sure he will be a great addition to the team in the coming months.

Bunkers

In terms of bunkers, now that the sand is drying out this will mean more stones will work to the top and become more visable, also allowing the sand to move/blow to different parts of bunkers with no real structure to the sand as there is no moisture in them. We are and will continue to de-stone and replace sand to the right areas of bunkers. Please do bear with us as this is an ongoing project. We also are identifying the bunkers that need topping up with sand and replacing when possible.

Member Notices

Our main aim for the month a head is to stay on top on the course conditions. May I remind all members to please help the greenkeeping team by doing the following:

  • Keeping trollies away from tees and greens as to prevent any excessive wear
  • Repair pitch marks and replace divots
  • Rake bunkers, leave them as you would expect to find them

Thank you for your ongoing support and I look forward to seeing you out on the course soon.

Martin and the greenkeepers