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Head Greenkeeper's Blog | February 2022 | Richmond Park

Head Greenkeeper's Blog

February 2022

What a dry January! I don’t mean cutting out the drink after Christmas, but more like the weather has been on our side. Last year we had 125mm in January and in 2020 we had 65mm of rain. This January gone we had 29mm. This has allowed us to cut tees and approaches along with most fairways.

A brand new fairway mower has arrived too, ready for preparing quality fairways once the overseeding in spring is completed.

The arrival of our brand new Baroness LM551 fairway mower

The quality of the bunkers has held allowing us to rake them more often too, anyone would think spring has come early. However, don’t be fooled! Growth hasn’t started yet, and that possibly wont kick in till mid March or even April. This is why we still have some worn areas of the tees and fairways, and continue to use tee mats and grass tees on a very few amount of holes. The more the grass tees are used the less chance of them being good in the spring. Grass won’t germinate in less than 10ºC and this make repairing grass tees difficult in these winter months.

Major drainage works by Mallinsons

Work has now been completed on drainage improvements to the 1st holes on both courses and the 18th on Prince’s. This project was carried out by Mallinsons of Ormskirk, who have an extensive experience in sports turf renovation, whose project portfolio includes many Premiership football clubs and cricket grounds.

The project has been a success and the new underground pipework will start carrying away surface water into the nearby network of brooks. Anyone who’s played Richmond Park for some time will know that this area is prone to becoming very wet over the winter months. It will take some time before the full benefits will be realised, but we can look forward to much better playing surfaces on these holes.

The sanded runs are marked as GUR (Ground Under Repair) and we ask that you please don’t hit off these whilst they settle and recover. These sanded drain runs have been seeded and will germinate when temperatures. The grass will gradually grow over into spring. It will be great to have better first and last impressions on those holes and hopefully less roped off areas in future winters too. A big thanks to the team at Mallinsons who have worked from dawn til dusk every day, completing the job in less than two weeks and minimising disruption to golfers.

Trencher used to cut trenches and lay pipes

The Mallinsons team and specialist kit

One of the main carrier drains

Looking sharp

Well it’s that time of year again. Pre-season preparation is the time greenkeepers undertake the yearly servicing of the cutting fleet of machines. Blades are grinded sharp, and the angles of those scissor like cylinders are restored. Our whole fleet has filters and fluid changes so we hit spring with a high quality and reliable machines that don’t tend to brake down in our busy period. Check out the video below to find out what happens to the mower blades when they are sent off for grinding and sharpening.

The QOC (Quality of Cut) is checked first on a strip of paper to see how it’s cutting. As you can see it’s not even managing to slice the strip of paper. Bottom blades also known as a bedknife are swapped for new. Then the angle on that blade, also known as presentation angle or facing angle is grinded at the correct degree for when it meets the cylinder blade. Then the cylinder itself is run through the grinder to set an edge to it to meet the bedknife giving that scissor cut. The QOC is checked and adjusted to perfect at the end.

Lastly is the HOC (Height of Cut). This is checked with a gauge and set to 3mm ready for those slick greens in spring. Cool water is used during the grinding process as the blades heat up and a protective screen for shards of metal that fragment off towards the operator is put in place.

We check the QOC daily, but the grinding is something that is undertaken twice a year by our mechanics to keep the quality up year round. Sand and worms casts along with daily wear dull the blades over time. This dulling can lead to the tip of the grass swards becoming jagged and let infections in. This shows itself as disease on the greens and demonstrates why this process is so important.

Well now that you’re all fully qualified mechanics, I feel this an appropriate time to mention my theme for this year’s blogs.

You may be aware that as greenkeepers we are always looking to improve, not just the turf but ourselves. We continue our knowledge with formal qualifications such as NVQs level 2 & 3 right up to degree level, we can even take a Masters if we’re brave enough. We get access to lots of learning resources for this, and many questions we start our careers wondering are answered when researching for material on a subject.

I will be sharing a lesson a month with you with a view to helping you understand more about the turf, what and why we do or don’t do things, and help keep our customers and members understanding the processes involved on the maintenance of a golf course.

Among the many questions we get asked:

  • “Why are you making holes in the greens, they were perfect!”
  • “Can’t you do that at a different time of year?”
  • “Why are the greens not as quick as last week?”

Hopefully all your questions will be answered in this informative year of blogs.

I’ll close a motto from Dr Suess:

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

 

Mike Budd

Head Greenkeeper

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