Members update 06/07/2018

Sorry we haven’t had a blog update for the membership in a few weeks, the work load has been crazy with these extreme conditions. Staff have been working form 04:00 in the mornings and as late at 23:00 some evenings, we hope the members are enjoying the course setup we have provided so far this summer. The setup has been thoroughly thought through by the team taking the current extreme drought conditions into account, we have set our main focus on managing the greens in a sensible manner to maintain their health.

Seniors County Championship

One of the main focuses of the 2018 season for the greens team was the Seniors County Championship, at the start of the season the team all agreed they would test themselves in tournament preparation and setup. The two week plan fell into place really well and the feedback from the county was very positive, the team feel it was all a success. Many members will say why can’t the course be presented in this way all the time? This is impossible for a team of four staff to achieve, some of the staff have accumulated 70+ leu hours already this year. The team made a very detailed schedule of works for this event and the volunteer section played a key part in completing tasks with the team being stretched to the limits. Thanks to the volunteer section for this, great work guys.

Well done to Colin Brown for his excellent performance over the two days, being narrowly beaten in a play-off.

New course furniture

Recently members will have notices a few nice touches around the course, we have new cups with the David Clark Golf logo installed thanks to Morpeth professional David Clark for purchasing these. The new cups, Ferrules and flags with logos were purchased thanks to a sponsor sourced by Ben Maxted, thanks Ben. The bunker rake stands have brought a nice look of uniform and continuity to the course, thanks to Steve Welsh for sourcing these.

Aeration greens/surrounds

The team have done very light and frequent aeration so far this year, carrying out practices such as verti-cutting, pencil tining and sarrel rolling which have been followed by light dressings of top dressing. So for in 2018 we have managed to get 30 tons of sand into the greens, this is half of what we intended due to poor weather at the start of the year for spring maintenance week. In the autumn maintenance week we look to get a further 90 ton into the greens, this should hopefully prolong winter play with our main greens.

Maintenance week information for work commencing 03/08/2018

We are quickly approaching our autumn maintenance week where we look to lightly scarify, hollow core then brush in 60 tons of top dressing, then verti-drain followed by another 30 tons of top dressing. This is essential to our quest of reducing organic matter levels and prolonging winter play on main greens as we missed spring maintenance due to poor weather. During the maintenance week the play will be on temporary greens until Friday 07/09/2018 to ensure the works are completed effectively.

The greens team would like to ask for volunteers to attend on the 03/09/2018 at 08:00 to help clear the cores up prior to the dressing. If we get 10-15 volunteers we should be finished clearing cores by 13:00.

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New ride on lawn mower

Thanks to Richard Rutherford for helping the club by organising the purchase of our new ride on mower for the copses, Richard has also kindly made a donation towards the purchase of the mower, with the rest kindly being made up from Club Captain Jim Allisons Captains fund. The mower will be operated by three of the volunteer section members on a fortnightly basis, already there has been a huge improvement within the copses on 11/12/14/15/16, thanks to the volunteers again for their great work.

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Nutrition and wetting agent programmes for 2019

The team look to complete their budgets by the second week in August, last week they did some tests on the greens and took samples which showed encouraging signs of progress. In the coming year the team look to work closely with Paul Lowe of Aquatrolls and Peter Mcmorran of GBR. The team look to use a different wetting agent programme next year, and look to use more straight fertilisers which they will mix themselves in the sheds in a mixing tank. This will improve the knowledge of the staff and also save the club money which will allow the team to feed areas like surrounds/tees for the first time. Next time you play take a look at the first surround, this has had the same applications as the greens for most of the season and is in much better condition.

New year lowering the moisture levels in the greens will become a priority, this is the start of our quest to produce sustainable greens which perform consistently throughout a full season.

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England world cup support

Members may have noticed the England flags painted into our 200 yard fairway markers, a nice little touch from Stu Speirs showing our support for the lads.


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Vandalism around the course

In recent weeks a few youngsters have been causing damage around the course, we have so far had around £1000 worth of damage to course furniture. If any members see any one out on the course in late evenings please report it to the club or the police. We have gathered evidence over the last few weeks and even have some photos of some of the late evening visitors that have been on the course in the evenings, this has all been passed on to the police.

Irrigation and hand watering usage

Over the last 5 weeks a lot of the teams time has been taken up by watering the course, a few members may have noticed block bookings on the BRS for the greens staff, this is so we can hand waters hot spots on the greens which need more direct moisture without disrupting golf with excess moisture mid round or hoses deflecting golf balls around the greens during play. We have been putting about 60,000 litres of water on the course per night through the use of irrigation, also approximately 15,000 litres per day hand watering.

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The rainfall data below shows how dry the country has been in June, the north east of England has been among the dryest.

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Below a few drone photos taken by John Scurfield, before we saw these photos we thought the course was reasonably green, the photos tell a different story. Looking at the greens our irrigation work as paid off as they are looking lovely and green.

Irrigation repairs

Being so reliant on irrigation through these testing times the team have been carrying out vital repairs to ensure the system is reliable and efficient. Many courses across the country don’t have a irrigation technician and we are the same at Morpeth, John and Stu have started educating themselves on our Toro system and have carried out a number of repairs in recent weeks saving the club substantial costs. Going forward the team will look to manage the irrigation in house as much as possible.

Wildlife around the course

Stu Speirs has caught some images of different animals in recent weeks, the latest ones are of these Oyster catchers giving us some free aeration.

Assessing and addressing the rough and playability of the course

2018 has brought a new more defined look to Morpeth golf club, the days of wall to wall cutting are gone, we look to produce a defined more visibly pleasing challenge of golf for our members. In recent weeks the greens staff and General manager Steven Johnson have liaised with the different sections within the club and decided to address some of the rough areas to make play more enjoyable and improve speed of play. Last week the team cut back the rough to the left of the 5th fairway, I think the name of this hole has a real meaning now by shape and playability “Devils Elbow”. If any one has any suggestions on playability of the course or any other request please send a message to this blog page.

Demo machinery from Toro

During June the greens team have started putting the 2018/2019 budget together, we have had demos on two different machines from Toro to see how they perform at Morpeth and we were very impressed. Currently have a full fleet of John Deere machinery which are all green, a few members have asked have we have purchased new red machinery, the answer is no its all preparation for the future options of the club.

Performance of the course

The course has been performing well through the drought conditions, greens have been running at 8.5-9ft on average. During this spell we are unable to reduce moisture levels to increase speed incase of error, we are also managing the height of cut slightly higher than we would like, again we are taking a sensible approach in protecting the course.

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Around the course with Deputy Head Stu Speirs

Stu has a keen interest in golf course photography and below are some of his recent photos from around the course.

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