Over the past few months, we have been asked on numerous occasions what our plans are to help improve the course and drive the club forward. In this report, we hope to give you an insight into the work we have planned, are in the process of carrying out and also our long term development plans.
The course this winter 2015/2016 has suffered chiefly for two reasons. 1) The exceptional rainfall which has affected every golf course in our area. 2) Neglect of the course drainage system over time.
We have no control over the weather but we can and will address the problems with the drainage system on the course, already much work has been carried out to this end. Some of this work is highly visible when out on the course. To the right and the rear of the 9th green (old 6th) and next to and to the rear of the ladies 16th tee (old 7th) all of this work has proved successful and these drains are running freely.
Much more of the work undertaken is less apparent, many drains have been ‘rodded out’ during the winter months and found to be clear of obstructions, the water however is not reaching the said drains. The ground in these very wet areas is clay based and has become compacted over time hence the reason for all of the surface water in these areas.
To address this problem we have purchased a ‘slitter’ attachment for the tractor. When used this equipment will create channels allowing the water to progress through to the drains. A number of other drains exit into areas of trees and bushes, if these drain exits are not regularly maintained, which they have not been, then tree roots enter the pipes causing silt build up and drain blockage.
This requires the same type of remedial work carried out around the 9th and 16th (old 6th green and 7th tee). All of the ditches will also be getting 'dredged' throughout autumn and winter. Further drainage will be installed across and around the old 7/17th carries with added pipes running into the 'moat' which will in turn overflow to the ditch which runs around the perimeter of the course.
At present there are no plans of the drainage systems that have been installed at Drax over the last 25 years or so, making it very difficult to maintain any of the systems to a good standard, scale plans of the original 9 holes and the 3 new holes have been found and over the next 12 months or so the vast majority of drains will be located and 'drawn in' on the plans making it possible to continue to locate and maintain drainage systems here for years to come.
The monetary cost of carrying out this work is fairly negligible but the time and effort required is considerable. We will need to maintain the goodwill of the members who give up their time to assist with this work, and we will always welcome any member who is willing to assist in this work. It is worth remembering that much of the work outlined requires heavy machinery on the course hence the reason we have not made the progress we had hoped too.
An annual programme of drain maintenance will be put in place.
Other areas that require remedial work are 1) Paths:- we have recently acquired in excess of 50 tonnes of LYTAG courtesy of Drax Power. This product will be used mainly in the creation of new and the repair of old paths on the course.
It is not a product we have used before for this purpose in the past but Ben Rutter has viewed paths of this type inside the power station. A certain amount of trial and error will be used to decide the best method of application, please be patient we will get it right.
2) Tree management.
You must have noticed that a large amount of tree work has been carried out on the course during the winter months. Why is this being done?
In many areas to improve the airflow and increase the light in the adjacent area this will aid drying and lessen disease development on the greens. To eliminate ‘self seeders’ which were never planned to be on the course, and to cull areas that are over planted which will allow the development of healthy and attractive tree stock. Properly maintained these areas can be accessed with grass cutting equipment which will allow errant balls to be easily found and speed up play. Proper tree management also makes the course more ‘playable’ by this we do not mean easier, we mean fairer.
Tree work will see more of the softwoods felled, such as Willow, Poplar and Alder. Once felled this will allow the hard woods such as Oak, Ash, and Chestnut & Cherry to thrive.
Ever wanted to know what the markings on trees around the course means? If they are sprayed in the middle of the trunk, the tree will be felled. If they are sprayed at the base, they will be pruned. Now you know!
Tree management is an ongoing programme managed by the Head Greenkeeper.
The ponds are another area which has suffered from lack of attention, consequently they have become a bit of an eyesore instead of an attractive feature on the course. Some work has already been carried out on the ponds on the 4th (old 13th) and the 9th (old 6th) mainly by volunteers, this will continue. The moat area by the 10th tee (old 17th) has already been improved by the greens staff and again this work is ongoing.
4) Old 1st Tee
This is and will remain roped off to allow the greens staff to carry on work to turn it into an acceptable practice putting area. This work will take a great deal of time to raise it to the required standard so please be patient.
Future Course Development
The committee made a commitment over 2 years ago to install a new ladies/winter tee on the 18th, this we planned to do during the winter, again this was thwarted by the inability to get heavy machinery on the course. It is intended that this work will be carried out during this season. This work will not impact on competition play.
We also intend to restore medal tees on the 4th (old 13th) and 5th (old 14th). All of this work should be attainable with the clubs current resources, the completion date for this however is difficult to predict, but the commitment remains firm. The medal tee on the 16th (old 7th) may also be reintroduced to help make this a more challenging hole.
We do have other proposed projects under consideration.
The introduction of an extra par 5 to the card.
The introduction of a new pond to the right of the 9th green (old 6th).
The inclusion of the practice green as an extra par3 into the current course layout.
The introduction of fairway and/or greenside bunkers on the 6th/12th (old 3rd).
A new second tee on the 11th/17th (old 8th)
All of the above to remain under consideration as and when the clubs financial position allows.
Head Greenkeeper & Greens Sub Committee