Haywards Heath Golf Club
Friday 9th December 2016
Find out what has been happening, and is planned to happen, on our course over the next few months
Apologies that I'm a little late with this autumn update, there's been so much going on over the last few months that I got a little distracted!
As always, any feedback about this update or the course in general would be welcomed, please just email me at email@example.com.
What a summer and autumn we have had, with long periods of glorious sunshine and very little rain falling.
It has undoubtedly helped the condition of the course and I genuinely cannot remember it playing as well over such a sustained period. If anyone knows how we can order up something similar for next year then please do get in touch!
The greens, in particular, have been in wonderful condition since May. The sward has remained thick and very healthy through the summer as a result of Peter's verticutting the greens on a regular basis (Verticutting increases turf density by cutting the grass stems that try and grow laterally).
The greens have also maintained a good pace and, of late, downhill putts have started to become very challenging!
However, it always seems to be the case that the conditions that golfers love also provide significant challenges for the greens team as you will see later in this update … a case of half full or half empty I suppose!
In my last update I detailed the drainage work we had planned for this year and it was a long list.
I'm pleased to report that we've managed to complete all the major ditch work and are hoping there won't be a need for any more. We may be proved wrong when the heavy rains do arrive but, for now, we don't think there should be.
There are a number of smaller jobs to complete before the spring, some of which are:-
the ditch on the right of the practice ground will be connected into the main drain that runs across the course from the 4th hole across to the bottom of the 9th
we will be installing open drains at the bottom of the tarmac paths on the 5th and 6th so that surface water coming down the paths is collected into the drainage ditch
another sleeper bridge will be built to provide access by the 8th green onto the top practice area.
Although we haven't had much rain, when we did have a deluge about three weekends ago the ditches really did their job, with them all pretty much full to overflowing.
It was particularly pleasing that the open ditch below the bank on the 5th and 6th holes worked wonders during that deluge. Unless you've hit a truly dreadful shot on the 5th you won't be aware of the deep, wide and very long holding ditch that runs alongside the hedge, beyond the bank on the right hand side. Its purpose is to collect the rainwater that gets caught in the stone filled ditch. Following that downpour it resembled a swimming pool, so much so that we will be making it even bigger at some point over the next few months!
We are leaving the ditch across the 5th and 6th holes open until next spring so that we can really understand where the surface water that rushes down from the 6th fairway crosses the ditch. Our hope is that we can install a few open drains so that the bulk of the water is quickly caught by the drainage ditch, rather than run over the top of the stones. We would then hope to be able to seed or turf the remainder of the ditch.
One of the drawbacks of the wonderful golfing weather we've had of late is that there has been very little rain. “Bah humbug” I hear you shout, but from a greens perspective it really does present some problems.
We had hoped to use a machine called the Shattermaster continuously this autumn, the picture below shows you what it looks like.
The Shattermaster is pulled by a tractor and the twelve inch blades are pulled through the soil but, because of their design, they vibrate as they move through the soil, causing the clay to fissure. The rollers at the back smooth down any ground that is pulled up. We have modified our Shattermaster by welding metal bullets onto the blades so they also create a narrow tunnel through the soil to allow excess water to drain away.
Our intention is to Shattermaster the whole course so that those tunnels lead to one of the ditches we have installed. The slits and fissures through the ground will allow rainwater to quickly permeate through the surface and either drain away below ground or slowly trickle along one of the tunnels to eventually end up in a ditch.
However, our problem is that the ground is still so hard, just an inch or so below the surface, that the Shattermaster blades can't break into the soil! So, we have reverted to deep slitting for a while and although the blades are only going in about four inches it will help to soften the ground so that we can, hopefully, get the Shattermaster into action soon.
At the start of the year Peter developed an idea for how we could improve the drainage in our bunkers without the expense of digging them up and starting again, an expense we simply could not afford. We discussed the approach with our agronomist and course architect and they both gave it their seal of approval.
The new approach is to dig a deep, sometimes very deep, ditch the full length of the bunker. This is filled with different gradients of stone to provide what is effectively a sump. The sump has an exit drain to take excess water away. We then lay a deep layer of sand, deep enough for the stones not to be disturbed by people moving their feet to get a stance. The sand layer is compressed down to form a firm base onto which the top covering of sand is placed.
We have used the new approach in the greenside bunkers on the 13th, 15th and 16th and it really is working well. After the recent deluge those bunkers drained very quickly while the others filled with water and were out of action for some time.
The two fairway bunkers on the 1st hole and the greenside bunkers to the left of the 1st and 3rd holes are just being finished off using the same technique, although for these four we will be hiring in a 'whacker plate' to see if that helps with creating an even firmer base. If the fine weather continues we may use the same technique on the two bunkers on the 8th hole sometime over the winter.
I think it's time to dispel the rumours that we are installing gallows or giant bird tables around the course!
Thanks to a very generous member donation we have had built three divot bag stations that are situated by the 1st/10th, 5th and 15th tees. Each station will shortly have a bin alongside it for empty bags (please, no litter) and there will be another one by the shoe cleaner. The bags have a small carabiner clip attached to the drawstrings so the divot bag can easily be attached to a golf bag or trolley.
The stations will be operational from the 2nd January and the bags will be refilled each day by the greens staff. During the colder months the bags will only contain a growing medium but this will fill the hole, provide a level surface and allow the grass roots to grow across the divot once the warmer weather returns, so it is still important. During the growing season grass seed will be added to the growing medium so that regrowth will be more rapid.
I am hoping that all members will play their part by taking a divot bag out with them whenever they play. Our fairways were in tremendous condition this year but wouldn't it be nice if they were even better next year.
We love our trees in the spring as the buds open and the course is enveloped in a fresh, green coat. We adore our trees during the summer as they fill out, mature and look so beautiful. There are hardly words to describe the beauty that is autumn, as their leaves turn so many shades of red and gold.
And then we hate our trees as they drop their canopies over the course, we struggle to find our ball amongst the sea of leaves and all we have to look forward to is the winter!!
I'm not being flippant about the problem, because it is a real problem, but equally it is a drawback of playing on such a beautiful tree lined course and being surrounded by woodland and hedges.
I decided to spend an hour on Google to quantify the problem we have. Evidently there are 200,000 leaves on a mature oak tree and ta similar number on a beech or ash tree. On a small, mature tree such as a birch or maple there are in the region of 30,000 leaves. So, I did some maths and estimate there are in excess of 45 million leaves that can fall on our course and this year it feels like they all have done just that!
It is a physical impossibility for the greens staff to clear that number of leaves, particularly in a year such as this when they have remained dry and get blown about by the lightest of winds.
The greens staff blow the leaves off all greens, tees and bunkers every morning. The team regularly collect leaves and dump them in massive piles in the woods around the course.
The 4th hole seems particularly bad this year but it has been cleared, completely, four times already this autumn. As it takes three of the four greens staff half a day to clear that fairway, alongside all the other jobs they have to do, it simply is not possible to clear them all by hand.
So, we have started investigating whether there is some sort of machine that can help. Similar research was done a number of years ago and no suitable solution could be found but it is worth another look.
However, I don't want to raise expectations too high. For instance, we know there is one machine, called an Amazon, that is reportedly very effective at picking up leaves. But it is also a heavy machine so although it would have done a great job this year, it wouldn't have got out of the green keeping shed last year when ground conditions were so soft.
I'm intending to report back to Management Committee in the spring, so for now it is a bit of watch this space and, in the meantime, we will continue to clear as many as we can.
I'm always perplexed when I hear someone say “I don't make pitch marks”. The inescapable truth is that we all make pitch marks no matter what standard of golf we play.
Whenever a ball strikes the green, either from a nicely lofted iron or from a badly thinned wood travelling like an Excocet, it will make some sort of mark.
At this time of year in particular, pitch marks make the green unsightly and can easily affect the roll of a putt. So, there are already two good reasons to repair them.
However, there is a third, very real and relevant reason.
Like most golf courses we have a fungal disease called Fusarium which lies dormant in the soil until the right conditions exist for it to rapidly multiply. There is no way of eradicating Fusarium, it can only be chemically treated once it starts to bloom.
Pitch marks left unrepaired provide a perfect place for a microclimate to form and for the fungus to flourish. Once it has a hold we have no option but to spray to avoid lasting damage. That costs £1,000 for one application on all greens. A very powerful argument that, if we were all more diligent, might be a battle we could win, or at least not lose.
But repairing a pitchmark properly isn't as obvious as you'd first think. There is definitely a right and wrong way and so I've included below a diagram that explains the best way to repair them so that the green recovers quickly. Copies will also be posted around the clubhouse as a reminder.
That just leaves me to say that I hope your 2016 golfing was better than you had hoped and that 2017 proves to be even better and also to wish you all a Happy Christmas and a great New Year.
Monday 12th October 2015
Seaford Golf Club v Haywards Heath Golf Club - 11th October 2015
Haywards Heath Team Sheet:
Ben Harris and Sam Badger
Charlie Baldock and Tom Hopson
Jak Alcock and Gregg Hollis
Harry Tyler and Max Tyler
In what was a very close match and which was decided on the 18th green HHGC sadly lost 2.5 to 1.5. Captain Jak Alcock organised his team well and his selection on pairings was exceptional decision making. Always up against the challenges of playing away and in more wind that what we're used to at our ground the team played some great golf and it was home advantage which solely proved too great in the end.
The first pairing of Ben and Sam looked like it could of finished in a lose of 4 & 2 but a never give up attitude from both our boys saw an eventual half and deservedly so. Sam produced 5 or 6 great approach shots from within 50 yards and showed his short game is improving.
Charlie and Tom were unlucky that they came up against two solid players and this game certainly showed that home advantage does count massively. Their oppenents played some great steady golf and were 5 over gross when hands were shook. This pairing is one to watch for the future as both are steady and have great course management.
Both teams strongest pairings were out in the 3rd group and again HHGC were 2 down with 4 holes to play and another great comeback started and with Gregg hitting his tee shot to within 6 ft with a 5-iron from 205yds on the 15th we were on track yet Jak lipped out and the hole was halved. Ball in play golf saw 2 consecutive wins and to the 18th hole standing all square. Again home advantage played its part as Jak was too long off the tee which meant Gregg had to take a drop and with tall bushes 10yards in front of him and 115yards to the green hit what was "shot of day" to within 6ft meaning if Jak sank the putt for a superb par and the game would of finished with a half. It was not our day as the putt just missed and the game was lost.
The final pairing of the Tyler brothers produced a superb "debut" victory for 11year old Max with a stunning 5 and 3 victory. Watching Max swagger up with confidence to hit his first tee shot was great to see but to see him hit it 175 yards down the middle with a slight draw was a joy to behold. The 2 brothers came out the blocks and saw them storm to 4 up and with Max with a short game beyond his years and Harry brillantly guiding Max saw them close out the game on the 15th. A special thanks should go to Harry with his extra duties of helping Max through his first ever competitive match.
Sadly HHGC lost yet the boys can come away with the knowledge that they played great golf and did HHGC proud in not just with their golf but to the manner in which they played the game. All the boys enjoyed the experience and can come away with heads held high.
Well done to all the players and a great thank you for turning out and doing the club proud.
A big thank you to all parents too who took the time out of busy family schedules to get the boys there and back, it's much appreciated.
Alex Honeysett - Junior Organiser
Tuesday 22nd September 2015
Nominees for 2016