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Head Greenkeeper's Blog | October 2021 | Richmond Park

Head Greenkeeper's Blog

October 2021

Well I don’t know about you, but I’m actually looking forward to this winter!

I’ve just completed my first year here at Richmond Park Golf Course and have now seen it through all the seasons.

This experience has given me a good understanding of what to expect and what can be done going forwards. I’m excited to bring you news that we have lots of winter projects to help further improve the courses:

  • Steps and paths will be constructed/renovated around tees. This will improve the bare areas created from heavy footfall and hopefully we can add a splash of colour by growing shrubs, such as heather, into the tee banks.
  • Bunker returfing will start too, improving the presenation those sand traps.

Management of quality standards is high on the agenda right now, and I am working closely with the management team to carry out quality audits to identify areas of our overall operations that will benefit from improvements.

There are quite a few more changes planned over the coming months, but I don’t want to spoil the surprises! Stay tuned for more announcements.

I am pleased to share some postive news about the greenkeeping team too. Neil Brien has been with us 6 years is taking the first step on the management ladder to a new role we have created, becoming First Assistant Greenkeeper. This role will support the Deputy Head Greenkeeper with the day to day running of the estate, while making sure the team are delivering consistently high standards. Neil is an expert mechanic, which is a huge help in keeping the machines going, and his knowledge of the courses makes him a “go to” member of the team. He will be undertaking his NVQs and spraying licences next year to help his development. Well done Neil and good luck with your new responsibilities. Now go crack the whip!

We have also given Michael Hunt an Assistant Greenkeeper contract. Michael started with us over the summer on a part time basis but is now permanent member of the team. Michael has proved to be both reliable and committed by helping out with driving range operations and covering weekends for the team when annual leave is taken. The next step is to complete his machinery training and he hopes to progress as a greenkeeper and turn a job into a career. He will also be undertaking his NVQs in the spring.

These changes mean the greenkeeping team will all be qualified to a high level over the next 2 years, demonstrating to our newer staff how we much we value and reward hard work. For the golfers out there, it will mean there is broader team structure and understanding of golf as a sport and not just turf. The NVQs offer a reason for doing every task. When greenkeeping is new to staff, it can come off as just jobs without the understanding as to the “why” and “how”.

These well-deserved promotions mean we shall be recruiting 2 additional greenkeepers, one as an apprentice. Hopefully they will follow in the footsteps of Bartek who has been previously mentioned in my blog due to his hard work.

So back to the courses. We shall be carrying out deep aeration over the next few months, in the form of vertidraining. This is a much deeper form of aeration to our usual tining but no more disruptive. We don’t use sand this time but instead make deep holes into a different layer of the soil that was previously untouched for most of the year. We don’t carry out vertidraining in the summer as there is a risk the greens will dry out too much. Vertidraining in the winter will not only aid in the drainage of the greens, but allow in much needed air and help against compaction from the busy season we have had. I have attached a diagram to demonstrate what happens when vertidraining.

Slitting of the fairways will start soon too, once the mowing eases off due to slower growth.

I hope you enjoy reading more about the projects on the horizon and join me in hoping for a dry winter.

An Italian proverb says:

 

Those who sing through the Spring and Summer, must learn to dance in the Autumn and Winter

 

Mike Budd

Head Greenkeeper

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