Showing posts from 2019

Temporary greens (why?)

Firstly I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas and I wish everyone of you reading a happy prosperous new year. Let’s hope 2020 is a drier year and certainly in the next few months. This brings me on to my blog nicely. Phoenix golf club is trying to offer no temporary greens for frost situations. Although damage does occur from playing in some types of frost and thaw situations, I’ve never seen this damage become irreversible and by spring when the main root development occurs we usually have decent recovery. This theory hasn’t been tested for a few years now at Phoenix and if the results go as I’m predicting, then this will continue on into winter 2020. Why the temporaries then? I hear you ask. Well firstly the only greens being put on temporary greens (and I’m careful not to call them winter greens) are the 7th, 10th and 17th. This is due to a phenomenon called hypoxia. All living things that need Oxygen can suffer hypoxia. In humans a treatment of an oxygen mask and iron inpu

What a year...what an autumn

Unfortunately for the out of golf season and our winter sports at Phoenix, this autumn has been as wet as I’ve known it since 2001 and in fact the yearly rainfall data for 2019 looks like a record breaker (see graphs below). We’ve had 399mm since September and 959.9mm all year, well away from 2018s 615.8mm all year. Last Wednesday into Thursday we recorded 105mm in one hit flooding the golf course, the whole complex and most of Rotherham/Sheffield for that matter. Ok Im hitting you with bad news and one I know you don’t want to hear, but this may strike you has hard to believe but I don’t want to hear it either. In my first year leading this team and wanting to take this complex and golf course to the next level, this has certainly been a set back. We had plans for the winter which are now looking very unlikely to happen unless a miracle happens. The long term forecast for the uk is for a hard winter and a beast from the east, again!!. If this happens it may be a good thing as

Greens drainage

You may notice over the next week or so a few drainage channels on a few greens. This is vital work that will ensure the survival of the turf with all the wet weather we have been having. Early summer was wet with August our best month and a total contrast to the dry 2018 we had, the middle of September onwards has been a constant barrage of Atlantic low pressure systems dumping way too much rain and well above average (see graph). We actually over took our yearly total average in the second week of October and we haven’t hit winter yet, great!. All this rain means one thing for turf, lack of oxygen. Most people think that turf grows in soil, and while that’s correct in one way it’s actually wrong. The soil is literally an anchor for roots and supply’s vital nutrients, but the roots of the grass plant actually grows in the gaps in the soil and there for grows in an oxygen rich environment. When we have excessive rain this forces the oxygen out of the soil, the roots begin to retrea


Drainage is categorised in to two main groups, primary drainage and secondary drainage. Primary drainage is the mains and lateral pipe work set deep within the soil profile and is designed to pull or carry larger quantities of water from within the soil profile or carry the water to an outlet like a pond or dyke and in drainage terms your dykes are primary drainage. Secondary drainage is any act upon the surface through soil profile linking up to your primary drainage. This can be anything from your vertidrain to sand slitting or gravel banding and is usually accompanied by an inert material like sand or gravel to help infiltration of water through the soil profile. On Monday the 26th and Tuesday the 27th of August thanks to Ben our business manager for the investment and agreeing funds and Danny Boardman for agreeing the short term disruption for long term gain, we are performing secondary drainage on four of our worst performing greens, in the form of sand drainage channels. The sa

Verti-drain benefits and why in the golf season

Regular and seasonal aeration is essential to ensure turfgrass quality and is maintained throughout the playing seasons of any fine turf with heavy wear. The impact of not having a regular aeration programme will inevitably result in lost or cancelled fixtures, which could result in lost revenue and substandard playing surfaces So, why do we need to aerate? The turf grasses are grown on a medium known as the rootzone, which is a mixture of sand, silt and clay perfect for a growing medium. The rootzone is made up of differing proportions of soil solids (mineral and organic material) and soil pores (for water and air).  The key part of aeration is to maintain the correct balance of air and water within the rootzone and that means creating pores. These pore spaces can vary in size and are generally classified into two sizes - macro pores (larger than 0.08mm) and micro pores (less than 0.08mm). Macro pores generally allow movement of air and the drainage of water, and are large en

Captains day

So a successful captains day from the ground staffs point of view and hopefully from golfs as well. Here without bursting too many bubbles I’m going to explain why this standard isn’t sustainable all year, but at least you know it’s achievable without the variables I’m about to explain. This week was mainly a free calendar from other sports, we had a the cricket to cut and the bowling green to still maintain but no football. This is something that is going to change shortly with football season upon us and this quality of golf course is no longer achievable, but that doesn’t mean we won’t push for high standards it just means captains day was a peak. My first arrangement was to ask Ben, our Business Manager, for a few extra hours and extra staff at the weekend, which he was happy with. Achieving a quality course wasn’t easy, although most of the rain that was forecast stayed away, what did come and the dewy mornings made the cutting messy, especially in the semi rough. So

10th green hydraulic leak

10th green hydraulic leak As you May have noticed in spring we had a massive oil leak from one of our oldest tractors straight through the middle of our 10th green. As this was clean mineral oil from the hydraulic system it doesn’t show up on the green straight away and a couple of lines was expelled before noticed by staff. Death of the turf occurs initially from the heat of the oil but the difficulty in recovery comes from the oil taking time to leach out of the soil and break down. Oil by its nature is a water repellent which is not good for water loving grass. Unfortunately for the golf season turf was ordered but poor planning meant this died over a weekend!. My staff and I was left with a dilemma, wait to see if recovery started and over seeding actually started to germinate, or turf with a fresh piece of turf cannibalised from another green or the same green edges. We opted to try seeding but the seed just wouldn’t germinate in the hydrophobic soil profile caused by

12th drainage system

Many of you may be wondering why the front of the 12th tee had became wet again last year, then ask why these unsightly drains haven’t been filled in!. One obvious reason was the tremendous amount of rain that fell. Once the beast from the east moved away and the jet stream moved north, this pulled weather system after weather system   In off the Atlantic which could only mean one thing RAIN!. From the 1st of March to the 31st of April 2018 Phoenix golf club suffered 226 mm of rain!!. The second reason the 12th tee area became so wet again was the drainage system. Graham did a magnificent job designing the open drainage system in the area but they are exactly that, open. They are actually called french drains and collect surface water before it soaks and saturates. Every year the drains need maintenance to keep them open which involves removing soil and organic matter  from the drain lines to keep the water flowing down them and topping up with pea gravel.  This had been a job negle

Aeration Monday

You may ask why punch holes and add sand just when the greens was becoming good. Well there’s a long and a short answer and anyone who knows me knows which one I’m going to give!. Try not to fall asleep on me πŸ˜΄πŸ˜‚ We will be performing several tasks and each one has its benefits long term. The good news for you is that summer aeration mainly consists of smaller holes more often and less sand more often, together with good growing conditions means a speedy recovery and great surfaces fast. The team will be verticutting, cutting, sarrel rolling then applying approximately 5 tonne of sand bringing our total this year to 65 tonnes. The following day an application of wetting agent, seaweed, humid acid and liquid aeration will be applied. Below is a description of what each process is and why we are performing each task. Verticutting The verticut units are like mini knives spinning vertically removing debris, standing up lateral growth, removing seed heads, leaving a seed bed to help f

New greens iron. Rolling and the benefits.

Today we received our latest addition to our fleet, a new greens iron. Big thanks to the golf committee for helping in the cause and justification, and a big thanks to Ben Watkins our Business Manager, Justin Carpenter our Grounds Committee Chairman and the trustees for choosing to invest in what will prove to be an invaluable tool. There are a lot of benefits from rolling the putting surface the obvious ones from a golfing stand point are a little extra speed, smoothness and trueness, but the benefits for the club extend beyond trying to achieve a double digit stimp reading. We can achieve speed without needing to cut everyday saving wear and tear on a £27000-£30000 machine and transferring it to a less expensive mechanically simple unit, potentially saving money on fuel powering a bigger unit, wear on cylinders and bottom blades which need sharpening regular and saving servicing costs to a machine not accumulating a lot of hours use. Rolling or ironing also has benefits from an ag

Maintenance HUD and it’s importance

I know these posts are coming quick and fast and that’s half my eagerness for change and the fact that I want to be open about how I will make my decisions for our greens. For those that are bored now the posts will slow I promise πŸ˜†.  I use spreadsheets to record my data around what’s happening with our greens, after all they are alive and change daily so why not record changes. The idea of a HUD is not new and I first came across this from Jason Haines, a superintendent from Canada, or genius as I like to think of him. You may have seen some past tweets with snap shots from my HUD displaying certain bits of information. My maintenance HUD is short for heads up display and gives me all my separate spreadsheets and data in one place. The information displayed are weather forecast, growth potential, precipitation, disease pressure, grass clipping volume, ideal growth vs actual growth, soil PH, soil temperature, growth potential, greens firmness and more, all of which I can use to

5th green soft

I’m sure most of you have recognised how soft and squidgy the 5th green has become over last year or so and now the loss of turf quality has become an issue. A number of things are to blame, excessive organic matter (OM) or thatch build up as you May know it. This is likely caused through excess Nitrogen and lack of sand topdressing (see growth rates graph below) b) the pines to the left of the green causing a lack of light and a lack of air flow, c) gravity allowing rain and ground water to follow the natural land and drench the back and left of the green during heavy rainfall, and d) poor or worn irrigation sprinkler heads supplying poor uniform distribution that actually drench the back of the green in minutes and don’t supply enough to the rest of the green in that time.  Below are my plans to eradicate this problem and bring this green inline with the rest of the course in-terms of OM and firmness. As you will see we have started this work already, not in the order I would have c

My secondment

As many of you will know by now I have been given secondment to lead the ground staff at the Phoenix. I’ve been working at Phoenix for 19 years now and I’ve applied for the job as Head 2 or 3 times in those years. I learned most of my modern green keeping practices from Graham Pickin who in my opinion is the best Head Groundsman Phoenix has ever had (until now 🀣). Joking aside I learned a lot from Graham and put together with my studies in the HNC Golf Course Management I have developed a modern approach based on efficacy, efficiency and quality without needing a massive budget, perfect for Phoenix. You will soon see I use a more scientific approach to my decision making, I prefer fact and I believe past guessing and lack of knowledge has caused a few greens to suffer. This blog is to update all the members on our targets, achievements, our success and failures hopefully Past failures that need amending. Now unfortunately due to some past failings Im down on staff so don’t expect m