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Working at the Open Championship

John Scurfield’s story on his week working at the Carnoustie Links for the Open Championship.

I set off on my journey to Carnoustie Links on the Wednesday morning with Hexham greenkeeper Paul Walton, we arrived at our digs at around 14:00 at SRUC Elmwood campus in Cupar. On arrival we were met by the BIGGA team consisting of Racheal Duffy, Sandra Raper, Tracey Maddison and Kerry Phillips. We were issued our uniforms, shown to our rooms and met many greenskeepers from all across the country.

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At around 15:30 we set off in our team buses on our daily 45 min comute to Carnoustie Links. On arrival we were shown to our BIGGA HQ for the week and shown the location of the starters hut where we had to attend prior to our tee times.

The support team then headed up to the 10th green where we were fortunate to meet Sandy Reid Carnoustie Links Superintendent and Craig Boath Carnoustie Links Head Greenkeeper, who were the guys in charge of setting up the course for the Open Championship 2018 with help from the STRI. Sandy and Craig gave us an hour of so out of their busy schedule which was very interesting, they talked us through preparation on and off the course and touched on exactly how much effort has gone in to being hosts of the biggest golf competition in the world. The tour we all got of the Carnoustie Links facilities was brilliant, they really are in a different world compared to the everyday green keeping sheds as you would expect.

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Sandy gave us all demonstration of what was expected from the team during their matches on the competition days, it was a rare sight to see so many greenskeepers eager and excited to grab a rake.

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During each competition day each support team member was given a match number, this allowed everyone to know what time they were out on the course and which players they were out on the course with. Everyone was eager to see if they were with Tiger Woods. I was fortunate to walk the course with a few top class golfers, among the best were, Francesco Molinari, Justin Thomas, Brandon Grace, Chris Woods, Ben An and a few more I was unfamiliar with.

The one moment I took away from the Open Championship experience which I will never forget was on day 2 on the 15th hole, Molinari hit a fat pull off the tee with an iron and the ball flew into some deep gorse bushes where there were no spectators. I saw where it went in and couldn’t understand why he hadn’t hit a provisional, after a few minutes of looking the referee addressed his radio for a buggy to take Molinari back to the tee as they thought it was a lost ball. I said to the referee I know where the ball is roughly and went over to look, after looking around with my rake I finally saw if nestled in the top of the thick gorse bush, Molinari thanked me, took penalty, hit the green and made 5, he thanked at the end of the hole and me and gave me the ball.

This is the ball below Molinari gave me as a thank you at the end of the 15th hole.

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I know I will never win an Open Championship but at least I’ve helped someone achieve this.

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In between games we had spare time where we had an opportunity to get a photo with the famous Claret Jug, this was pretty special to a life long golf fan.

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During the week I met guys from all over the UK, all very enthusiastic career driven greenskeepers. Some of the guys were great fun and had a good laugh, I’m sure everyone took a story or two away from the week along with a few more friends for life.

It was great to hear of other experiences and career paths the other guys had taken, also interesting to hear how fortunate some guys are working with large numbers of staff with almost unlimited budgets. We will get there with Morpeth one day, got to be ambitious eh.

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I purchased an 18th hole flag at the Open gift shop, I got it signed by loads of top players like Mcilroy, Stenson, Molinari, Fleetwood, Thomas and many more.

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This is a gift to the greens team at Morpeth, I’m going to get it framed and hang it on the wall for the team, hopefully in years to come some of the other members of the team may want to gain some competition experience.

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The photo below is of myself with Paul Walton of Hexham golf club, I spent most of my week with Paul. Paul is a top guy and I enjoyed spending time with him, it was a laugh from start to finish.

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The team photo was taken on the 18th green after the presentation of the Claret Jug to Francesco Molinari, good to meet all these guys who I’m sure will all discuss green keeping at some point in the years ahead with each other.

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Thanks to BIGGA for selecting me to be part of the support team, it was a great experience for myself as a greenkeeper and a golfer. To stand on the 18th hole in the middle of the fairway 130 yards short of the green and to hear the crowd cheer the golfers home was very special, a moment I will never forget.

Thanks to Rachael, Sandra, Tracey, Kerry, Jim, James, John and Chris for all their hard work over the week, especially the ladies who worked tirelessly, well done.

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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.

Monthly Greens report.

Welcome to our monthly greens report direct from the Greens Team, with the work increasing and becoming fast and furious we will be putting out one detailed blog post out per month. As normal we would like to ask members who are reading our blog regularly to tell their fellow members about the green keepers blog, also we encourage members to ask questions too as we would love to hear members thoughts/ideas on the course.

Greens.

Applications:

10 kg of Soluble iron, provides rapid green-up and hardens the plant ready for the season.

120 litres of Micro flow, this liquid feed increases nitrogen levels improving plant growth, health and colour.

20 litres of Magnet velocity, this has iron in and again improves colour and health of the turf.

10 litres of Hydro pro is a wetting agent ensures the even distribution of moisture through the soil and maintains plant usable reserves of water applied either by rainfall or irrigation.

John Scurfield below out on the spraying machine, happy playing in his new toy.

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Shaping + Heights:

The greens have been cut down to a height of 4mm as of the 08/05/2018, the current shaping of the greens will remain very similar to last season. In the coming weeks we look to apply very light and regular dressings of sand, the members won’t even notice these applications. Green speeds look to increase by 1 foot in the coming month, we are looking to achieve between 10 and 11 foot on the stimp this season with a nice true roll.

Stimp readings :

Data collection is a big deal within the sheds this season, we look to present performance related data to the membership annually moving forward. Stimp readings are one of data readings we will be taking twice weekly through the playing season of 2018, a stimp reading is a measurement of the speed of a putting surface in feet. The Greens Team will look to educate the membership on this and in the coming years will understand the meaning of a green running at 12ft.

As of the 08/05/2018 Stu Speirs took some stimp readings from around the course and the  average speed the greens was 9ft, we are pleased with the results considering but look to achieve 10.5ft in the coming weeks.

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Aeration:

The team had to cancel maintenance week in May due to the extreme bad weather and the fact the members had not really played golf in 2018, they decided to cancel it. The team still needed to do some aeration work so they decided to do some light pencil tinning followed by topdressing. The team managed to work 18 tons into the greens and are very happy with the outcome, in the coming months they will be applying topdressing little and often.

Double verti-cut:

08/05/2018 the team brushed, double verti-cut and double cut the greens, the results were very positive and the playability of the greens improved considerably. The Rye grass in Gerrys hand below is what we will be aiming to rip out during the season to improve the playability of the greens.

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Verti-drain:

Stu Speirs has spent many hours in the John Deere tractor this year so far aerating the greens, the verti-drain has been key in opening up our greens allowing air in and relieving any unwanted compaction. Currently the greens which had signs of black layer are now free of black layer and looking better than ever, Head greenkeeper Gerry Cramer is very happy with the progress.

Fairways.

Stu Speirs has spent time in the early part of the year planning out the shaping and assessing factors affecting playability in the fairways. Stu has worked extra hours on many days making great progress and I’m sure all will agree they are looking stunning. We look to run some trials on the middle of the 5th fairway using primo max, this is a growth regulator which slows the growth of the grass. When the 5th hole was built it was over-seeded by a farmer who used an agricultural grass seed, this area grows very quickly and is incredibly coarse grass. With the use of the primo we hope to see improvements in playability and presentation can be achieved.

Shaping + Heights:

Stu is currently cutting the fairways at 15mm, he will be looking to lower the heights in the coming weeks but we are restricted at Morpeth as the rig bottoms become scalped when being cut at lower heights. Last year Stu managed to get the length of the fairways down to 13mm, we will look to achieve this again in 2018.

Applications:

The fairways will be given an application of Ferrous Sulphate in the next suitable spell of weather.

Surrounds.

Shaping + Heights:

John Scurfield has taken lead with the surrounds again this year, most of the surrounds remain the same as last year with only a few small tweaks. The current height of cut is 10.5mm, this will be worked down to 9mm in the coming weeks.

Applications:

The surround have been treated with a soluble iron and an application of wetting agent in selected areas, we look to keep them nice and strong this season and free of any disease.

Semi-rough.

Shaping + Heights:

Guy Anderson has started setting out the areas of semi again this season, Guy and the team have discussed some areas of rough they would like to grow in to bring more definition and a playability factor to some areas. The areas which have been left to grow in like the left of the 11th fairway level to the 8th green, will always be counterbalanced with another area of extended semi/fairway on the same hole. The 11th fairway has been extended to the right as you play about 120 yards short of the green, this is the natural finishing position of a long tee shot or the second shot for players with less distance from the tee. Guy will be continuing to present the semis in a block cut style at a height of one and three-quarter inches.

Guy has done some great work fixing the old semis machine as it was out of order last season due to costly repairs needing to be done, Guy has done there repairs himself at a fraction of the price. This repair also means the volunteers have free use of the old semis to maintain the practice facility twice per week.

Bunkers.

Head greenskeeper Gerry Cramer has been putting his fitness to the test lately, in recent weeks Gerry has edged all the bunkers and levelled all sand out equally in each bunker. The team along with the assistance of the volunteers are no longer raking the bunkers with a two foot flattened perimeter, in 2018 the bunkers will be fully raked keeping the sand pushed up the faces.

The photo below is Gerry doing a little celebration on completion of his final bunker, “Great work Gerry”.

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New bunkers on 11th/18th:

The new bunkers should be open for play in the first week of June, the 18th may be open a little sooner. The bunker on the practice facility is now open for use.

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Tees.

Applications:

The tees have been sprayed with soluble iron.

The team look to trial Primo max on the tees this year to help slow the growth, this will hopefully mean the tees will only need cut once per week.

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Shaping + Heights:

The tees are going to be cut again this year in a block cutting style, they are currently cut to a height of 10.5mm which will be dropped to 9mm in the coming weeks. We are trailing a different style of presentation on the 14th tee box, once the tee box is full established the team will make a descion to either scrap the idea or introduce it to the rest of the course. Many tee boxes have been reduced in size in an attempt to improve presentation.

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Irrigation.

The irrigation system has been re-commissioned and is ready for use, the team have been out ensuring there is no air in the system.

John Scurfield has been been out around the course testing and replacing heads, some of the heads were sitting low which have also been amended.

In recent weeks Morpeth golf club had a new irrigation control panel fitted, the team have had full training on the use of the system and have created various programmes to select from during periods of varied weather patterens.

Practice facility.

The practice facility has a new look with nice new white dividers creating bays to hit from, the bays have been cut out to a height of 10.5mm, thanks to David Clark for supplying the wood for these areas. The chipping greens to the right of the practice ground are going to be maintained at greens height, this will enable members to practice chip shots and better preparing themselves for play out on the course. The small putting green is receiving all the same applications and cultural practices as the rest of the course, this will enable members to practice their putting better as the one outside the pro shop is very uneven and maybe not suitable for members looking to take putting lessons form club professionals David Clark, Martin Jobling and Kieran Graham.

Volunteers section.

Team rota:

The volunteers now have a rota to work to, the volunteers section have two bunker raking days a Tuesday and a Friday for competition days. Two of the guys are cutting the practice facility twice per week on a Tuesday and a Thursday, a divoting team is working around the course making great progress, and a the from of house teams are again doing great work in presenting the entrance to the club in a fine manner.

150 yard posts:

As requested by the ladies section the 150 yard markers have been reinstated to the course and look really nice, they are a very tidy addition back on to the course, they were put back out on to the course by the volunteers section.

Divoting team:

The devoting team has made great progress around the course, they have also been collecting litter on their way, amazing work guys.

Fairway distance stones:

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Car park and buggy paths:

The pot holes around the course and clubhouse areas have been filled up nicely and are now safer and more friendly towards suspension systems and wheels.

Martin Jackson memorial seat:

Bill one of the volunteer section members did an amazing job on the Martin Jackson memorial seat, he has brought it back to its former glory and will look amazing in front of the club house.

Dan Lloyd memorial seat:

The Dan Lloyd memorial seat has been given a fresh coating of paint and looks lovely at the top of the practice facility.

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Other work from around the course.

Bernhards grinder demo:

The team have a demo day on the 22nd of May from Bernhards, they will be spending the day with the team educating them and board/committee members. The addition of the grinders into the sheds will be presented to the board in a proposal against an existing cost from a 3rd party.

New buggies arrive

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Spraying machine delivery induction:

The team have taken delivery of their new John Deere spraying machine, John Scurfield will be operating the machine and is now fully educated on how to use it. The free use through ownership of the sprayer will help the team transform the course going forward, the health of the playing areas will also be greatly improved.

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Computer in sheds:

The Greens Team have been Kindly donated a good quality computer courtesy of Edd Scurfield. This will now enable the team to keep all their records electronically moving forward. Below is one example of a service record but every machine has its own individual log, we have decided to use 2018 as a fresh start for the machinery as previous record keeping was unclear and inaccurate.

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New tee box steps:

The new steps to the 3rd and 7th mens medal tees have been finished, we are just awaiting the seed growing in now.

9th fairway drains:

Gerry cramer has exposed a blocked drain on the 9th fairway and has rectified the problem, the area of repair will remain GUR until further notice.

Bunker rake stands:

A massive thanks to Morpeth Golf Club member Steve Welsh, Steve has supplied the club with rake stands for every bunker on the course. The stainless steel stands look great and help ensure presentation of the course throughout the season can be even more impressive.

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Areas of work in progress.

New pins and flags:

The new flags and cups are in the process of being ordered, General Manager Steven Johnson hopes to place the order this coming week.

The old 14th green:

The old 14th green was left and almost knee-high last year, John Scurfield has been doing little bits of work when time has allowed and this area is nearly down to greens height. The team will look after this green in the same manner as the other 18 greens, this could be used asa temporary hole during winter construction disruption. The team also have the option to use this green for plugging disease scars or possible damage, there is many advantages for the rest of the course by having this green available to use.

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5th/10th turf removal:

The areas on the 5th and 10th where turf was removed are still going to be repaired, the team had intended to use the removed cores from May maintenance to fill these areas but unfortunately the weather forced us to cancel it and concentrate on producing a course for the membership. These areas will hopefully be addressed with cores we look to remove from the tee boxes.

11th bunker fill:

The 11th bunker short left will be filled it and turned into a green, the team look to create a green suitable for winter play with a drainage system installed. This area will remain GUR until further notice and won’t be a priority as the playing areas of the course need to be presented to a higher standard this year than ever before.

Paint cups for comp days:

The cups will be painted every Tuesday and Friday for the competition days.

Tees cored:

The team look to core a selected number of tee boxes in order to improve the standard of the turf surface, we will be using the natural sand pit from behind the 4th green for material.

Tees v cut:

All the tees were covered in moss at the start of the year, we have treated them with applications of iron which has killed the moss, we will be verti-cutting them to rip out all of the moss then overseeing the tees again in an attempt to raise standards of play and presentation.

Water fountain at 8th tee:

The water fountain not he 8th/12th tee will be out of order until further notice as the pip has severely burst, we look to address this in the next two weeks if time allows.

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4th tee info board need moved:

The hole information board and three distance discs will be moved in the coming weeks at the 4th tee, the team decided to reduce the size of the tee by half as the surface was so uneven it was unacceptable to be used as a tee box.

A summary of the course development plan members meeting 11/04/2018

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The Greens Team along with the General Manager Steven Johnson were pleased with the delivery of the presentation to the membership, they would like to thank all the members who attended and hope they are happy with the direction the club is heading going forward.

The highlights of the night were,

  • Seeing where the club looks to go in the future on and off the course.

General Manager Steven Johnson lead the presentation in his normal cool fluent manner, he touched on many key points taken from the course appraisal submitted by the Greens Team.

The course appraisal will be available  for the members to view on request in the office, the 400 page document goes into great detail in all areas of the course.

  • The history of the course both positive and negative.

Steven also talked in depth about the history of the club from the early 1900s to the current 2018 position.

  • Gerry Cramer announces he is stepping down as Head Greenkeeper.

On completion of Gerrys 40th year at Morpeth Golf Club he will be stepping down and taking a more relaxing back seat, Gerry will continue as a member of the greens team after stepping down and is looking forward to a less stressful green keeping role.

  • John Scurfield will become Head Greenskeeper on completion of his transition period.

On completion of the transition period between Gerry and himself, the club have announced that John will take over as Head Greenskeeper of Morpeth Golf Club.

  • Gerry Cramer’s Speech on the past at Morpeth Golf Club.

Gerry’s talk was in-depth covering the 100 year old greens construction, he touched on areas which needed improved going forward hopefully taking Morpeth to the next level.

  • John Scurfield’s speech on the future at Morpeth Golf Club.

John’s talk was an informative look for the members at what the team look to do with the course in the future, he also talked about ways in which the team look to maintain the course, and ways in which the team look to answer future members questions both positive and negative using course data.

  • The requested information by the membership on the possible future look of the club.

2nd Hole Future

4th Hole Future

6th Hole Future

10th Hole Future

16th Hole Future

17th Hole Future

You will need to view these files on a laptop or pc.

Thanks the Greens Team.

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Royal Cinque Ports Visit For John Scurfield

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This week John Scurfield has been down to Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club for a work experience visit,  John has spent 4 days working down on the southeast coast as part of his annual leave which shows his desire to better himself within the green keeping industry.

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John approached Cinque Ports course manager James Bledge about going down to see how he has the place running on a day to day basis. James was more than happy to help and supported John with accommodation and daily meals. Part of Johns personal development at present in based on management and how to be a good manager. While there John could not believe the how thorough James and his team were in their work, from the first to last minute the entire team were outstanding at their jobs in producing a top class course, also John noticed there was great banter every day and the guys were all very happy.  John worked with the Cinque Ports greens team of 9 staff doing different jobs around the course, he enjoyed listening to the different experiences in the industry the guys have had, even down to the young apprentices who were very knowledgeable about their jobs and extremely enthusiastic.

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James spent time with John showing him some of the ways he runs the business, budgets, data collection, fertiliser plans, grass species, staff management and machinery were some of the subjects they discussed.

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John has a keen interest in different grass species, something he has inherited from his old course manager at Whitley Bay Simon Olver. He was fascinated to see how James and the Cinque Ports team have began the process of introducing Fescue to the fairways and surrounds, “they look really nice and clean”.

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“My trip to Royal Cinque Ports was amazing, the guys who work there are so lucky to work on such a brilliant historic course, id love to go back again in the future”

2018 at Morpeth Golf Club has seen the start of a bunker development programme, they have been constructed it a revetted manner normally seen on links courses. John was interested to see the different bunker styling Cinque Ports have to offer, some very sharp perfectly shaped green side bunkers, also some very natural looking bunkers with marram planted around the tops edges. The team have done great work in opening some sand banks up using excavators in the dunes, they look like they have been there for hundreds of years.

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Despite being a links course on the sea front, James and his team do their best to promote wildlife. They have created some nice habitats on site in the shape of wetland areas,  again they look like they have been there for hundreds of years. Ecology is one part of the golf course the Morpeth greens team look to promote in the coming years.

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Whilst down on his visit John was fortunate to be able to play golf in the evenings, he was able to get a couple of rounds in at Cinque Ports and visits along the road to Princes and Royal St Georges Golf Clubs for a look.

” Thanks for the opportunity to visit Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club its been a great experience for me, I’ve got many ideas to take back for the future at Morpeth Golf Club “.

Members update 09/03/2018

Works on the course

  • 11th greenside bunkers construction near completion

The rebuild of the 11th greenside bunkers is near completion, the only works remaining is to re-seed the areas around the bunkers, turf the base of each bunker and fill them all with 3-4 inches of new sand ready for play.

  • Second Lantra chainsaw course completed

Morpeth have been liaising with Ian Fletcher, Ian is a Lantra chainsaw instructor who has connections with BIGGA. Ian has also been coming to Morpeth with his own students to practice felling a small number of trees for their educational assessments which take place elsewhere.

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  • Tree debris removal

The greens team with the help of the volunteers section are in the process of removing the heavy tree debris also burning all the brash, this will bring another big job to completion allowing the team to concentrate on the course setup in the coming weeks.

  • Steps at the 3th medal tee

Stu Speirs and John Scurfield have completed the rebuild of the steps at the 3rd medal tee box, the landscaping around the tee still needs brought to completion when weather allows. This style of steps is the style we look to implicate around the course in the future.

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  • Divot mix

In years gone by the team have divoted the tees with topdressing [fine sand]. The topdressing was not helping the repair of the course and causing issues with the cutting units as sand blunts them off. In 2018 the team have had sole control of their budgets and have managed to include the purchase of 29 tons of high quality divot mix. This will allow the team with the help of the volunteers section ensure that the areas which need the most attention, such as par 3 tee boxes and landing zones on short par fours are maintained and have a full health grass sward with no signs of wear.

  • Wildlife

The greens team are looking at ways to introduce wild life, they have started creating different habitats around the course using tree debris. Deputy head Stu Speirs has keen interest in wildlife and has taken some great pictures along the way, we will do a constant wildlife section throughout the season to show our progress.

  • Outstanding list of works to be completed before the season

-finish 11th bunkers

-re shape fairways

-collect remaining tree debris

-finish area where turf was removed on the 5th/10th

-landscape area 3rd medal tee

-bunker construction 7th greenside/left

-vertidrain greens x2

-vertidrain tee boxes

-small maintenance jobs on machinery

  • Disease Management

Head greenkeeper Gerry Cramer has been working hard with Deputy head Stu and Assistant John to educate them on disease, he has had them looking at the different types of outbreaks and the problems they may cause. The poor weather has left the greens under constant threat from an outbreak. As of the 06/03/2018 we are pretty much free of any disease outbreak, apart from the putting green which being in a area surrounded by buildings it has had higher soil temperatures resulting in disease outbreaks of Fusarium.

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  • More poor weather

The weather during the last four weeks has poor to say the least, we have had in excess of 120mm of rain fall. The greens team have had to make a decision in order to get the course open. The have decided that a total trolley band was the only way the course could be opened 9/3/18 this will be reviewed daily, with being so close to the start of the season. We know that the greens team are still driving in areas of the course which may cause confusion as we are making more mess than a trolley, but please take in to account that we need to still carry out essential works again being so close to the start of the season. When jobs are planned they are prioritised depending on the route taken around the course, take for example 7/3/18 we did the steps at the 3rd medal tee, the team only crossed six meters of the course as they travelled along bridal paths to reach their point of work. Another point to consider on the trolley/tractor factor out on the course, when a member of the greens team passes across the course and leaves a tyre track a golfer is allowed free relief from the tyre track as a rule of golf. When 150 golfers pass through for example the 5th fairway which is saturated in areas there is no rule for relief from the deep footprints or mud slicks caused by trolleys, this again thinking we are very close to the start of the season and look to present a course with high standards of presentation.

Works off the course

  • Workshop

Guy Anderson Morpeth golf club’s mechanic has almost completed his full revamp plan of the workshops. The before substandard workshop was not fit for purpose and had health and safety fails within its setup.  Now the workshop is separate with adequate space for repairs, Guy has also re arranged the machine space by creating separate parking bays with painted line markings and has even created a pedestrian walkway enabling safe passage for staff and visitors.

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  • Volunteer help

The volunteer section has been up to the course on many occasions recently, the two days the team were in the green side bunkers on the 11th stood out. If the volunteers had not helped out they would have taken twice as long to complete. A big thanks from the greens team again to all the guys who came up in their free time to help.

  • Health and safety updates

2018 has been a new start on the health and safety front for Morpeth golf club, the staff together with General Manager Steven Johnson have completed a new updated set of H&S documents. This enables us all to work more safely moving forward.

  • Volunteers training days

On the 6th March the team held the first of two training days for the volunteer section which comes from within the mebership. We had a great turn out and the team feel this was a success, some of the areas covered were, machiners maintenance, machinery usage, health and safety and correct PPE usage during operations. This enables the guys to carry out their tasks safely. The greens team would like to thank all the volunteers for turning up and completing their training, we hope the volunteers will be an integral part of the team moving forward.

  • Expenditure overhaul

Over the winter months the team have been looking at the expenditure on the greens budget. So far, we have found that there is a lot of opportunities to save money on some of the products we use. As we progress through the season we I’m to keep a close eye on our spending, challenging prices along the way and hopefully making some key savings.

  • Spraying machine ordered

Gerry made the easiest phone call of 2018 so far to Geoff Lowes at Greenlay, the team made a price comparison proposal to the club which highlighted by owning our own sprayer the club could make a £600.00 annual saving. By the end of March, we look to be self-sufficient on the spraying front moving forward, this has been great news for the team.

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  • Grinding of cutting units

We currently have an agreement with Whitley Bay golf club where they do a set number of regrinds per year for the club, this ensures we have a better quality of cut which in return will enable us to produce better surfaces out on the course. Last week we got the last of the regrinds back, Guy Anderson has since re-fitted all the cutting units back to the machinery ready for the start of the season.

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  • Machinery servicing/repairs near completion

Guy Anderson has been servicing all machinery individually and is near completion. Guy still has a small number of jobs to complete before the season, this has been Guys first season in the role of mechanic with learning along the way and the team are happy with his great efforts.

“Good work Guy”

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  • Tree felling licence application near completion

Steven Johnson has been working with Sarah Radcliffe of the Forestry Commission- Sarah has assisted us in our application for our Forestry Commission felling license which was as a result of guidance given by James Hutchinson.FC-linear-

  • Turf Keeper demonstration

Kevin Scarce has been to Morpeth golf club to do a demonstration on the Turf Keeper software package. Turf Keeper is the turf industry’s leading online management system providing a complete oversight and insight into staff management, turf maintenance, machinery and chemical applications and golf course budgeting.

Use of this software will allow the team to have total control of every aspect of the work place. We will be in an excellent position to share info with the club/membership which will help us answer most questions throughout the year in facts and figures.images

  • BTME staff education and visit

Some of the staff attended the annual BTME show at Harrogate for people who work in the sports turf industry. Our guys participated in workshops and seminars which covered subjects such as, Control of organic matter, Disease control in the future, Golf course renovations and was a great opportunity for the team to network with other greenkeepers. This is an event the team look to add to their calendar every year going forward as they brought so much positivity back with them.

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  • John Deere staff training

Guy Anderson has been down to John Deere, Greenlay for a couple of days to learn about bearings, bushes and has also educated himself on the John Deere parts advisor website. This allows Guy to quickly fault find, find the correct parts needed and make orders fast and efficiently.

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  • Chainsaw education for Stuart Speirs

Stu has completed his Lantra chainsaw course and has obtained his licence to fell trees legally. Morpeth now have two fully trained chainsaw operators in Stu and John which is very positive moving forward into the future, as we have a tree management programme which currently looks rather full on the work front. The course was supported by BIGGA and we have approached them to look at doing two more courses next year which will allow Stu and John to fell trees of a larger size in the future.

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Thanks The Greens Team.

18th bunker near completion

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In recent weeks the membership may have noticed the team working on the 18th bunker. The weather has slowed productivity, frozen surfaces, 6 inches of snow and 100mm of rain, these factors have all brought works to a halt.

The team have now brought the works to near completion, resulting in a fresh new look different style of bunkering being installed. The 18th is constructed in the same style as the bunker displayed on the practice ground which was successfully presented to the membership earlier in the year.

The Team have constructed  the revetted bunker within the existing 18th bunker, also they have built the bunker into the original surroundings ensuring no major costly landscaping has been necessary for the club.

Drone pic from 15 meters.
Drone photo from 15 meters.

The construction was thought through carefully by the Greens Team throwing many ideas about, as seen in the photo above they even checked the shape ticked all the boxes from a drone view.

John Scurfield and Stu Speirs have put together a video showing different angles of the bunker, this is on the Morpeth Golf Club Greenskeepers Facebook page for viewing.

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Follow The Greens Team on the Facebook page above for daily course updates and playing information.

New drain lines have been installed and have been checked by Head green keeper Gerry Cramer, Gerry has confirmed the drains are working well ensuring the bunker will be in play constantly even during wet periods.

The 18th bunker still needs the turf liner installed, followed by the new fresh sand which will also bring another new look to Morpeth Golf Club.

The Team removed the turf for the revetted faces from the left of the 5th fairway, an area of the course deemed to be less busy from a playing perspective. This area will be backfilled with topsoil, levelled off and re-seeded for the start of the season.

As you can see in the pictures above the team looked to add a little extra in the way of levelling on the finishing edges of the bunker, still maintaining a nice consistent shape. There is two different levels of hight on the top of the face, these protect the centre of the green in different ways, the rear of the bunker has an obvious low entry point for golfers to use to enter/exit during play, the guys were quite happy with the finished result immediately looking to start bunkers elsewhere identified in the winter programme.

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In the coming days we look to start works on the 11th hole green side bunkers, they will be brought up to completion in good time for the beginning of the season.

The Team hope the members can enjoy the new look bunkers, they will bring a new look to Morpeth in the future without the club having to spend tens of thousands of pounds. We are taking real pride in everything we do in our drive to move Morpeth Golf Club forward.

Any feedback from the membership would be much appreciated by the Greens Team.

Thanks, The Greens Team Gerry, Stu, Guy and John.

January 2018 Update

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December and January have seen some very poor weather resulting in multiple closures, this has been the same story for many clubs across the Northeast of England.

The Greens Team have still made the most of this period off the course and have been pushing on with their green keeping facility improvement programme. Since returning to work from the Christmas break the sheds have had multiple partition walls erected/plastered/painted, a new kitchen with eating facilities installed a meeting/education area, newly painted floors and a new drying room for the team.

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The winter programme for 2017/2018 was a little late in kicking off as weather, key decisions, finances and planning had to be filly assed and thought through. Bunkers are a part of the course many members along with the Greens Team are eager to see refurbished, the team are now pushing on with the 18th bunker although being stalled by the poor weather.

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Below is a picture take with a drone, we will be looking to show our work off through the 2018 season from a different angle, this also allows the team to perfect their presentation from all angles.

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Going into the final weekend of January the team have really pushed on, great efforts have been made to get the presentation of the course back up to standard. We are working through a jobs list of raking bunkers, changing holes and hand cutting greens. Head Greenskeeper Gerry Cramer has been busy installing drainage to the front of the 12th green, this will hopefully intercept water following the rig bottoms working towards the putting surface.

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A change for the year 2018 within the team is data collection, this will help the team understand the course better in the future. The data collection will also help the team with educating the membership in changes of course conditions through high and low season

Below is our thermometer showing a soil temperature of 2 degrees, even though we had a beautiful sunny pleasant day today 25/01/2018 the soil temperature is too low for growth.

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The team look to do a weekly blog update throughout the whole of 2018, please can members spread the word and encourage others to follow our blog page, thanks The Greens Team.

Winter Wonderland At Morpeth Golf Club

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Over the last two weeks the course has been closed pretty much constantly, this is due to the consistent frozen ground conditions. The course has been inspected daily and we now predict the ground is frozen to a depth of 3-4 inches on the closely mowed areas such as greens/fairways/tee boxes. The team have take a few pics from around the course so members can see what the conditions as like.

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John Scurfield took a few photos over the weekend including a video of one of the putting surfaces.

John: “Im 17 stone and the puddle is 5 inches deep, its frozen solid”.

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The picture below shows some areas of the course have wide spread dangerous areas of solid ice, the close mowed areas suffered the most as they have the most exposure. The main and winter greens are like concrete pads, no golf has been possible during this period of freezing weather.

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All members can see via our Morpeth Golf Club Greenkeepers Facebook page daily updates from out on the course, during course closures or days of restricted play videos and photos will be uploaded allowing the team to keep the membership up to date.

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The Greens Team, Gerry, Stu, Guy and John would like to take the chance to wish the membership a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, all the best for 2018.

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December 2017 works.

Stuart Speirs 25th year of service.

Congratulations to Deputy head Stu Speirs on achieving 25years of service at Morpeth golf club. A fantastic achievement from possibly one of the nicest most genuine guys you will ever meet, WELL DONE STU!.

Stu received a gift from the club, presented by Keith Brown greens chairman. Also a nice picture of Stu with Gerry Cramer Head Greenskeeper.

Morpeth golf club AGM 2017.

The 7th December brought the annual general meeting, for the first time all of the greens team attended. The guys all wanted to attend as they are proud of the work they are producing and wanted to show the club how committed and proud they are of being part of Morpeth Golf Club.

The AGM was a great success and the current board look to have the club heading in the right direction in a professional manner, there is a feeling of teamwork throughout all board members and staff. The team along with General Manager Steven Johnson are excited to see what the future holds at Morpeth golf club.

Bunker work.

John Scurfield and Stu Speirs have completed their works on the refurbishment of the practice ground bunker, this project is to show there direction the club look to go on the bunker front.

Bunker presentation.

The bunker presentation from the greens team to the members was a success, the presentation was a short talk out on the course by Steven Johnson, Gerry Cramer and John Scurfield. The team then took the members back into the warmth of the club house for a small powerpoint presentation from John Scurfield and some questions and answers. The feedback was very positive and the team took all feedback on board, the ultimate goal for the team is to produce a golf course to be proud of with the members can enjoy playing.

In the sheds – New mechanics workshop area.

Guy Anderson in 2017 has a shown a desire to educate himself in John Deere mechanics, he has now began his own revamp of the work shops. This will make better use of space within the sheds and also allow Guy to work more effectively. He has planned out and made a start on the new look work shop. This passion for mechanics Guy has will be great for his continued personal development at work, also investment from the club in Guys training will save the club substantial costs on repairs/servicing.

“GREAT WORK GUY”

In the sheds – living quarters refurbishment.

Stu Speirs and John Scurfield have been busy cleaning the disposing of years of mess, they have found tools and parts they never knew they had. Really the improvements the guys have made are fantastic, all walls painted, all floors painted, H&S and first aid clearly located, TV wall mounted for staff education and training, and a clean relocated desk for improved book keeping. The team have also had help from Nick Thorne, Morpeth golf club member and contracts manager of Jones Interior Contractors. Nick is going to build some partition walls, fit a kitchen and fit all the doors ensuring the greens shed is brought up to standard for the team.

Conditions out on the course.

December has been a very tough month with over 150mm of rain/snow fall so far, temperatures have barely been above 2 degrees. Unfortunately the course has been shut more than normal but the reasons are for the protection of the course and the health and safety of the membership.

Work out on the course.

The team would like to thank Stu Imeson Course Manager of Dunstanburgh Castle golf club, Stu has Kindly helped Morpeth golf club out by sending a hand mower down for us to use through out the winter months. This will ensure the team can cut and roll the greens once a week through winter months, normally this task would become almost impossible as the course becomes too soft for our ride on greens machine.

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Head green keeper Gerry Cramer has been busy out on the course in all weather, he has been removing sand from the problem bunkers which in some cases is over 10 inches deep. The picture above shows the different sands added over the years and the amount of contamination coming from the clay base beneath. The contractors in the past have moved some sand around in various bunkers but unfortunately they have covered the drain lines with thick clay preventing the water form penetrating the drain lines. He has removed this and problem bunkers like the left of 7th green side, also known as the hot tub is now draining well. Gerry will continue to assess the problem bunkers in the coming weeks to highlight potential priority bunkers for the bunker refurbishment programme.

The budget for 2018 out on the course.

The greens team has been working hard on their 2018 budget for the golf course, the team have a couple of odd ends tie up ready to be submitted for approval, this will be the first year the team have completed their own budgets. This will be a massive move towards Morpeth golf club having their best season out on the course, as detailed planning throughout the year will be in the hands of the greens team 100%. The main objective of 2018 will be for the team the team to look at raising standards again for the season ensuring the course will be fantastic for the members to play on and enjoy.

Fertiliser plan for the 2018 season.

The team have put together a wish list of products and with the help of Glen Baxter of Rigby Taylor, they have ensured the course will be correctly fertilised and that the team are constantly winning the battle with disease outbreaks with regular applications.

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Data collection.

One of the big jobs ahead of the team is data collection, the team will look take daily readings from the course.

  • Soil temperature
  • Moisture content
  • Stimp meter readings [speed of the greens]
  • Rainfall

All of the above information will be collected by the team and will be stored in a computer software package that will evaluate the info and present it all in detailed charts. This information will be on show for the members to see in the early part of 2019 and will hopefully answer queries about the course productivity and condition.

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