Well what a strange year that has been.
As we all know the weather has not been kind to us at all and as the chart shows even in the middle of June last year we had severe rainfall that hampered the work we were able to do. But that was just a prelude to the worst rainfall we have had for a number of years with over 15.7” of rain from October to December which meant unavoidable closures of the course due to how wet it was along with putting us way behind with the important drainage work we had planned. More of that later.
Firstly I’d just like to put on record my thanks to the following people who without their help would make life a bit more challenging on the course.
Thanks again to my brother, Lee who is still with us and doing a great job as a subcontractor.
Graham Gilson supporting me whenever he could. Graham continues to both help in the tree regeneration programme and helps to service and maintain the machinery all for FREE.
To 2019 Captain, Dan Mitchell for coming and helping when he could on his days off.
Alan Puddyford who continues working all week for FREE cutting fairways and continues to set interesting tee positions! Amongst other things.
Allan Beaumont who works 2 - 3 days per week also for FREE also cutting fairways and tees and keeping the rough manageable with Puddy.
Finally a special mention to both Peter Rowbotham and Allan Palmer along with our new recruit, Roger Elliott who all work tirelessly 2 or 3 days a week and sometimes more, helping out doing jobs that allow me to concentrate on making the greens and overall course even better in line with the course development plan .
Thanks to your tremendous help, the club have able to save extensively. Without such assistance we couldn’t do as much as we do.
Thanks also go to our partners Fairfax Plant Hire who by doing what they do for us saves us a great deal of money and help us do the much needed drainage work when we can get machines onto the course. A big thanks goes to Dan Mitchell who has been in consultation with the company recently to keep this relationship going.
If there are any more out there who are able to give us a bit of spare time whatever that is, I know we can use you in helping make our course even better. So thanks in advance to Liam who is giving us 2 days of his upcoming holidays in March to prepare for the season, and Alan Dean who has expressed an interest in helping out as and when he can… every little helps.
Quarter 1 of 2019 started with the team working hard on the winter programme where we were able to continue with our tree regeneration and were able to remove numerous trees on both sides of the 7th / 13th and open up the area to the front of the 6th green.
In addition to removing trees we also planted some. In total 8 scotch pines were planted, 6 on the left hand side of the first just before the bush by the 2nd Tee and 2 on the corner of the par 5, 10th.
In March we began preparations for the upcoming season and towards the end of this month, we were successful in an application for a borehole. The monies we received approx. £12,500 and were obtained by a grant and I would like to thank Peter Trethewey for all his efforts in this, along with Matthew Forde in getting the application across the line. The savings to the club are in excess of £4,500 a year which is a significant saving.
As the season began, we were approached by a tipping company to assist in our long term objective of re-shape the 9th / 15th. This opportunity also brought with it a financial payment of much needed additional revenue to the club. Whilst we have had a number of false starts with the project. We still believe it’s in the best interests for the long term future of the club.
As May came, we were able to get all the delayed preparation to the course completed and were ready for the anticipated growing season with the Tees, Aprons and Fairways spiked and dressed with a special slow releasing fertiliser that we had been given by a members company Evergreen Garden Care Ltd this saved us in excess of £4,000 should we have had to buy it. So again a big thank you to Tony Hanson for this. This helped in the course to look in great shape for the Spring Open on 18th May and also when hosting our Inaugural NERGA competition on 2nd June.
June saw us have a significant rainfall which hampered us cutting fairways and greens sometimes however it allowed us to continue to do other improvements.
We were able to re-level and put new posts and roping on the 7th tee and we renovated the bridge on the 4th tee that took us back towards to the new Tee box that we introduced in April. Thank you to Phil Skilbeck who donated some of his personal time to complete this work. I’m sure you will all agree this new tee makes the hole more difficult in competition play than off the dailies.
As we moved into July and August and fully into the season we began to concentrate on the cutting the fairways and greens. We received great feedback from all members and guests in particular for the condition of the course for Captains Day.
We were again fortunate to be given further 28 ton of fertiliser from Evergreen Garden Care Ltd; in total, this was worth over £25,000 at retail. Again massive thanks to Tony Hanson for arranging this, along with M&H Contours for providing the transport FREE to get it. It is really appreciated what you are doing for us. We began to use this on all areas and certainly the First fairway has seen the benefit of this. As part of the tipping project we began to develop the new pond around the 9th green and early feedback from the majority of members was how good it looked. Unfortunately, this project has stalled temporarily but once we can, we will be completing this project as soon as we can.
As we finished the season at the end of September, we began to look to begin to prepare for the winter maintenance programme and as the competition season finished we took the white tees out of play.
The main purpose of the programme was to continue the work we had done previously on improving the drainage in a number of areas we identified from the June deluge. This along with reconstruction of the bunkers and drainage on 7th and 8th were the priority.
As we now all know the weather decided it would not stop raining and for the months of October, November and December we had 15.7” of rain which meant we were unable to put any machinery onto the course to do any of the planned work.
We instead turned our attention to the tree regeneration programme and took trees out on the first, second and eighteenth. Opening up the firs that will overtime become bigger and better and as part of the regeneration we will look to plant more of these in strategic places to accentuate the shape and look of the holes.
This particular piece of work has continued into January as the course continues to recover from the excessive rain we have had.
Bringing us right up to date to February where fortunately we have had a number of good weeks where we have been able to actually start the maintenance programme we had set out to do from October.
So far we have done the drainage on 8th /14th along with re-shaping the front bunkers by splitting them into two. We have filled in the 7th bunker and will design this into a run off which is easier to maintain and will look better. There is a plan to do further drainage work on this hole should we be able get the diggers into this area without causing too much damage.
On the first hole, again we have reshaped the bunker and created another smaller one to make the hole a bit more of a challenge. At the same time we have dug new drainage at the front of the hole that was never done when they green was extended. This was why it was always a wet area. We will for the upcoming season make the green smaller whilst this recovers and make the approach better.
We have done further drainage work on the 2nd hole near to the green and we have also filled in the fairway bunker on 18 and created a new bunker to the left side of the green entrance.
March will see us again begin to prepare for the season and get the course looking good for the “Whitely Charity Day”. To finish as part of these preparations, we are looking for support of all members, we are planning divot parties. If our senior members would help us one day during the week in mid-March, I know those members who continue to work will also help us either on a Friday as the clocks go forward or over a weekend. We will be posting this out in the coming weeks as we see the weather improve so I look forward to seeing you all. I am sure there will be some free beers on the day from the committee as a contribution.
All that remains is for me to say thanks to all the support my team, the committee and you the members have given me this year l will continue to make your course the best I can with the limited resources I have whilst looking to save money and get the best deals possible on everything I do in making our course something we can all be proud of.