Friday, 11 August 2017

Barn owls, kingfishers and orchids

After several years of owls using our barn owl boxes for roosting, two of the boxes were occupied this year, with two chicks in each box.  These were ringed for monitoring purposes through the Suffolk barn owl project.  http://www.sogonline.org.uk/scbop/.  Another first has been a kingfisher nest on the course, the adults are currently feeding young.  2017 has been a good year for bee orchids on the river course.



There were several bee orchids on the river course this year.






July course news



Record breaking temperatures and well above average rainfall during June saw strong grass growth and a maintenance programme dominated by mowing grass.  The warmer than average and very wet weather continued into July and we broke the previous rainfall record for July with 118.6mm in total.  The greens were top dressed during the last week in June and we’ve taken advantage of the strong growth to do some greens surface refinement through brushing, verti-cutting and occasional double cutting.  These operations help to improve smoothness, trueness and green speed.  The roller has been used regularly to counteract the slowing effect that the weather has had on the greens.  Selective weed-killer was applied to the tees and some fairways.  The annual ragwort pull is in progress, we’re just over half way round the course and will finish the job before the ragwort goes to seed.  The approaches and green surrounds have been verticut several times over the last few weeks to help fine down the coarser grasses.  We’re also boxing off the cuttings from these areas to help refine the sward.  Fertiliser was applied to the greens on the 17th of July.

Here is a summary of a typical week of routine course maintenance.
Mowing
Greens 7x (1 or 2x by hand), tees 3x, Aprons 3x, Approaches 2 or 3x, Fairways 2x, Semi rough 1x, bunker surrounds 1x.

The bunkers are raked daily, the holes are changed twice per week or more often if there are major events and tee divoting is done weekly.

July/August maintenance work
We’re planning a light top dressing of the greens early next week if the weather is suitable or failing that the week after golf week.  We’ll also top dress green surrounds and approaches.  We’ve started cutting some of the areas of coarser rough around the course and this work will continue over the coming weeks wherever the rough gets too thick to be playable.  The greens renovation and over-seeding work is due to start on the 31st of August.


Twitter
For members who would like to be kept up to date with course activity and anything of interest on the course we have a twitter account.  Follow the link below.


Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Weather summary for June and July

After matching our previous record average temperature in May we had a new record for June with an average temperature of 16.8°, about two degrees warmer than the average for June (The previous high was 16° in 2003).  The highest temperature in June was 27.2° on the 19th and the lowest 9° on the 30th.  Rainfall was a little below average with 44.2mm in total, with over half of it falling during the first week of the month followed by three dry weeks and then 20.6mm in one day on the 28th.

The record breaking trend continued in July, with 118.6mm of rain beating the previous high of 106mm (2012) by a decent margin.  (July average rainfall is 45.8mm)  82mm of the July total fell on the 10th, 11th and 12th with 51mm on the 10th alone, this made quite a mess of the bunkers!  It was also the second warmest July we've recorded with an average of 18.5°, a high of 25.8° on the 19th and a low of 10.8° on the 21st.  The record breaking rainfall and temperatures have resulted in unprecedented grass growth and a golf course looking much greener than we would normally expect during the summer months.

This is what all of our 100 bunkers look like after 51mm of rain in a couple of hours.



Tuesday, 6 June 2017

June course news

May started out cool and very dry, giving slow growth and green speeds around 10ft.  Later in the month it was warm and wet which gave us a strong boost to growth which was much needed but slowed the greens down to about 8ft  We equalled our warmest average temperature for May (13.4 degrees) and rainfall was well above average (59.9mm) with almost all of the rain falling in the second half of the month.  The greens were top dressed and later in the month we took advantage of the strong growth to do some surface refinement on the greens through brushing and grooming to lift and mow off lateral growth.  The Poa annua seeding has now finished and this has also boosted smoothness and trueness.  The putting green extension was finished off and the turf is already rooting strongly.  As the summer progresses we will top dress it frequently and gradually reduce the height of cut but it won’t be cut at greens height until next year.  Selective weed-killer was applied to the greens and most of the fairways and work has started on spot spraying bramble and encroaching gorse.


During June we will finish off selective weed-killer applications to the fairways and continue with spot treatment of gorse and bramble.  Both of these tasks are weather dependent and require dry conditions and light winds.  Top dressing of greens is scheduled for the week of the 26th weather permitting.  Top dressing is a very important part of the greens maintenance programme.  It is our main tool for smoothing out putting surfaces and is vital for keeping the greens firm and preventing organic matter build up (thatch) at the turf surface.  We aim to spread a total of 100 tonnes of sandy top dressing (Fendress 90/10) on the greens each year over six to eight dressings.  

Weather summary for May

May was a month of two halves as they say.  The first half was cool and very dry with only 3mm of rain up to the 16th.  The second half was very warm for May and very wet, bringing the rainfall total to 59.9mm for the month, well above average.  The average temperature matched our previous record high of 13.4° recorded in 2011.  The highest temperature was 23.7° on the 27th and the lowest was 4° on the 10th.  So after six weeks of slow growth in April and early May the grass has been growing frantically for the last three weeks.  This is great for recovery from winter wear and tear but not so good for green speed.  Hopefully the boom or bust weather patterns we're experiencing will settle down soon.

Recent wildlife sightings




Young tawny owl in watering forest

Adder - quite a big one

Little egret on the river course 4th

Skylark - good numbers of these nesting on the course this year

Turtle dove - an increasingly rare sight






May course news

After a good growing month in March we’re back to normal with cold, dry easterly and northerly winds putting the brakes on grass growth.  This weather pattern is forecast to continue into next week, with the possibility of some very welcome rain at the end of the week.  The flowering of annual meadow grass in the greens and other areas is at its peak at present but this should reduce over the next few weeks.  The new tees on the 1st, 6th and 8th holes are coming on nicely, they’ve just been top dressed again and we’ll bring them into play in the next week or so.  The greens were top dressed again last week bringing the total number of dressings for the year to three.  The next top dressing is planned for the week beginning Monday 15th May.  Top dressing is our main tool for smoothing out the putting surfaces.  Once we come out of the current drought (only 89mm in the first four months of the year and only 10.6mm in April) we’ll apply selective weed-killer to the fairways.  We’ll also start the annual task of spraying encroaching gorse and bramble seedlings.  Later in May we’ll do some renovation work on the green surrounds, this will consist of hollow coring followed by over-seeding and top dressing.  The extension to the putting green is nearing completion and the turf will be delivered on the 23rd of May.  

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Weather summary for April

April was a very dry month with only 10.6mm of rainfall, most of it in the last week.  Our total rainfall for the year so far is only 89.7mm.  The average temperature for the month was 9.1°, exactly the same as March.  The highest temperature was 16.9° on the 9th and this was lower than the highs for March (18.3°) and February (17.5°).  The lowest temperature was -0.2° on the 27th, much lower than the March minimum of 2.8°.  Low night temperatures have a significant effect on grass growth and the cold dry winds at the end of the month have slowed grass growth right down.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Dawn chorus walk

On Thursday 20th of April we had our annual dawn chorus walk, this year led by Steve Piotrowski. Despite it being a cold and grey morning we saw or heard a total of 40 bird species during the two hour walk.  The bird of the morning was an early Hobby, a summer migrant raptor which feeds on dragonflies and small birds.  We also saw two buzzards, four little egrets and good numbers of linnets. The full species list is below.  Many thanks to Steve for an interesting and entertaining morning.  An adder was seen basking, later in the day when the sun appeared.



Thursday, 13 April 2017

Easter foursomes course update.

Greens, tees, aprons, approaches, fairways and semi rough have been cut today and we're ready to go for the Easter weekend.  The new 1st and 6th tees will be in play and the 8th hole will be played from the championship tee.  The newly turfed area behind the 7th green is also in play.  All of the newly turfed areas are still quite delicate so please keep practice swings and traffic to a minimum.  Over the weekend the greens will be cut and rolled daily if weather conditions are suitable (frost is still a possibility).  We'll ease off on the rolling if green speeds get too high, they were 9ft 8in today with no roll and if it stays dry things could get silly!  There is rain forecast for Friday night which the course desperately needs as we've gone three weeks without any rain.  The holes will be changed on Friday, Saturday and Monday and the bunkers will be raked every morning.