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Head Greenkeeper's Blog | August 2021 | Richmond Park

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Head Greenkeeper's Blog

August 2021

Well I hope you all enjoyed the thrilling Olympics coverage. I managed to catch some of the golf, but I must say I didn’t feel sorry for them with the tropical weather they had! Much the same was happening here, perhaps with a bit more rainfall though.

I did however feel for the members’ Club Championship here a few Sundays ago, Peter Harrington sent in some great pictures that illustrated just how much rain we had. I quite like the picture of the ‘pet’ Kestrel on the golf bag seeking cover. I heard there were some great scores, and the mixture of varying pin difficulties added the the challenge.

July was one of the wettest on record and the flash flooding experienced in much of London affected our courses. Regulars will be aware that several holes were closed following a failure of mains drain line that runs underneath the course, connecting Wandsworth to Richmond. Thames Water carried out repairs over a 10-day period, but we’re pleased that normal service has now resumed. The aerial pictures show off the holes that were affected – you can see that they look as good as ever.

The transition from summer to autumn also marks my first anniversary as Head Greenkeeper. I’ve got to know how the courses change through the seasons too, which brings a lot of positives.

This takes me full circle back to one of my first mottos, along with my own personal ethos: “adapt, overcome, conquer” and my ethos: “plan, drive deliver”. This summer being so wet, and historical weather data not offering the hope of up better conditions, I hope to combine both of these mottos to stay ahead of the game.

The greens staff will be undertaking several winter projects as early as this autumn. This will prevent unfavourable weather conditions affecting plans. Bunker construction and re-turfing the edges is first on the list. We shall complete as many as we can before December and deliver you some nice presentable sand traps for winter.

We shall be working on keeping the course as playable as possible, for as long as possible, by keeping surfaces dry to prevent disease. Some new products will be trialed to keep worms away as much as we can. Unfortunately worms are not the only animal damage that likes the rain and softer conditions. Foxes have already started digging holes. This is due to the turf being soft from the recent rain, which encourages insects to come to the surface. We are doing all we can and repairing holes when they appear in the mornings. Remember we are sharing the natural habitat of many species of wildlife – it what makes our golf course so appealing.

We shall have a brand new hybrid mower arriving in the autumn too. This will present bunkers in a much nicer way, and also be used on the semi-rough in front of the tees. These areas of turf will receive a much higher quality of cut and give those miss-hit tee shots a better chance of being recovered from a neater cut. The mower uses cylinder blades instead of a rotary cut. The difference being that cylinder mowers are generally used on fine turf surfaces and not semi-rough. Through regular use, the turf will improve from the scissor like cylinder cut vs the rotary scythe cut, this will also lead to less scalping and bald patches on uneven ground. This machine can also double as a tees mower, so we hope to see the tees surface improve into winter too.

A special mention this month to our apprentice greenkeeper Bartosz Ksiazczyk – or Bartek as he’s known to his friends and colleagues. Bartek is only 20 years old and has been with us for about a year now. He has got to learn the basics and recently as part of his apprenticeship is gaining his NVQs in Sports Turf Management. Since the start of his time here he has had his head down learning and working hard, he has now turned a job into a career. Enthusiastic, passionate and creative are some of the words I’d use to describe his work. The rain unfortunately washed his most recent creative masterpiece away for the recent Club Championships, but the below pictures show just what this rising star of ours can bring to the team.

Well done Bartek, we hope to see this continue and keep up the good work!

Well we hope the sun makes one last appearance for us all, I did hear some silly person wish for a warm wet summer (ahem), so be careful what you wish for comes to mind.

On that note, my close is about growth, especially as growth has gone mad this year with the weather, so a wise man once said:

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.

Mike Budd

Head Greenkeeper

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