Summer is well and truly behind us but thankfully the relatively dry autumn has helped us to extend the season.
The course has been in great condition this year, which is thanks to careful planning and the hard work of the staff and Greens Convenor.
To keep the course playable through the winter and to ensure we prepare well for next season Council has agreed an autumn and winter maintenance and improvement programme. In addition to the normal greens and fairway maintenance programme, work will be carried out on bunkers, paths, drains, woodland areas and sanding of the fairways.
Members and visitors have been very positive about the overall condition of our course but have been critical of the bunkers, which is understandable. A number of bunkers have been identified for improvement work. Over the winter months, work will be carried out on bunkers at the 2nd, 3rd , 9th and the greenside bunker at the 15th. The bunkers will be cleaned out and in some cases reshaped. Drainage channels will be repaired and the bunkers filled with Wicklow White sand, which has been recommended by our course consultant. The middle bunker at the 9th will also be filled in.
SANDING OF FAIRWAYS
In line with the decision approved by the AGM, sanding of the fairways will take place using the recently acquired Dakota Sand Spreader.
The fairways included in this first tranche of sanding will be the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th and 10th which are those fairways assessed to be top priority. Approximately 170 tons of sand will be used. This will be done as soon as the workload and weather permits.
A priority area for drainage is the 4th [right hand side in the rough]. Lateral draining will be carried out at the 15th and gravel slitting will take place as well. A number of other areas identified as wet patches will be drained, together with the maintenance of existing drains.
All tees will be subject to the usual spiking and sanding. The temporary tees used currently in winter leave a lot to be desired and they will be removed. New Astro turf tees will be located at the 3rd and 7th tees. The lower winter tee at the 18th will be refurbished and the Ladies Tee at the 10th will be extended.
The current paths require nothing but attention and tidying up and a noticeable improvement will already be seen as a result of the work to the 17th. Repairs are also required to the path at the 5th .
Much discussion has taken place surrounding the provision of a buggy path as, when inclement winter prevails, older members who require a buggy to participate are unable if conditions require buggies to be banned. The plan is, in the first instance, to investigate the feasibility of a “dry nine” with buggies using the first 7 holes and the 17th and 18th. At the very worst, everybody can get a game of golf. It is proposed to create additional grass paths marked by blue stakes which will be created by verti-draining and heavy sanding. This will be dependent on the weather and then Council will evaluate if a “dry nine” is a feasible option.
Over the last few winters work has been done on thinning out some of our woodland to let light into the course. This will continue this year and the area between the 1st green and the 3rd hole has been identified as a priority. None of the hard wood trees in this area will be removed but the area will be cleaned up to let light into the first green
The club has an agreed five year machinery plan which will be the framework for investment in new course machinery This year we bought a new sprayer at a cost of £1200, a new Dakota 4ton spreader at £14,000 and a second hand Sexton mower at £3,900. This is on top of an investment of £35,000 on a new fairway mower last year.
Looking to next year we have identified the need for a new Greens Mower at a cost of £25,000. A decision on this will be finalised in the spring when we carry out our half year review of the budget.
The value of the above programme is that it keeps a focus on the course over the winter and on a continuous programme of maintenance and improvement. It is an ambitious programme and obviously will be subject to the weather and the available of the greens staff over the winter months.
In addition to work on the course, the plans for essential maintenance work in the bar area are now well advanced. In coming weeks we hope to be in a position to provide members with a more detailed briefing on this work.