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Fellow Members, the Course Divotting day is now amended to Wednesday 8th April 2015. Apologies for the change of date.
There is a list on the wall outside the Pro's shop for Members to put their names on. The programme is as follows:
All meet at the Clubhouse between 0830 and 0915. Please bring appropriate footware and a small trowel or suchlike - if you have one!
Divotting will finish by 1100 hours to be followed by soup and a roll ( bread! ). At approx 1130 we will have a 9 hole shotgun event - format to be determined. The event will be folowed by a small prizes presentation in the bar.
Men, Women and Juniors are all welcome.
Please try to support us, especially the Seniors, the Ladies and the Fiddlers.
Enjoy your golf,
Chairman of Greens
26th March 2015
Just a short few notes before I leave for sunnier climes!
Course activity is gathering pace as the growing period approaches. The Fairways are being heavily tined/ slit to aerate the ground and the first Greens treatments have gone down - a light nitrogen and potash application - it's just a light kick in the pants to help wake the grass up!
The Course drainage of the 8th and 12th should take place during March.
The new Greens mower has been approved and will be with us by 1st May - cost £27,500 plus VAT.
The decision to allow Members to play off the tee of their choice will be made during early April. Personally, I see no reason to prevent it. Feel free to pass your comments to myself or any Member of Greens or Match Committee.
On 1st April - no joke! We will be closing the Course - a Wednesday - for a few hours. All Members, male, female and juniors are invited to join us from 0830 - 0915 ish at the Clubhouse where we shall be organising a divotting morning around the Course. At 1100ish soup and rolls will be served at the Clubhouse followed by a shotgun start 4 ball competition - you can choose your own 4ball - over 9 - poss 13 holes with prizes to the winners. As many people as possible are needed. If you can come along please wear suitable golf shoes and if you have a small trowel type device, please bring it with you! Info will go on the notice board with a list for names and it should also go out as an email.
Last time it was done more than 3 ton of seed mix went down!!
Please try to come along and help kickstart our Fairways!
Enjoy your golf,
Chairman of Greens
Fellow Members, I shall be away part of March so I thought I might update everyone on current activities.
Apart from the days of closure the Course has been extremely busy for the last 6 weeks. We are currently running at approx 750 games a week with 500/550 of those taking place on a Friday to Monday. 750 people and around 650 trolleys is a significant number of golfers for the Course and the Greens and for the numerous pinch points on the walks from Green to Tee! Imagine that volume of traffic walking across your lawn at home every week!! As we move into Spring and Summer that issue will be compounded by an increase in games to probably nearer 900/1000 games per week!!!
At a meeting this week, Jamie Lloyd - one of our Greenkeepers - said that he was on the Course working this last week and he was at a loss at one point as to where he should move the ropes! He felt that he was just moving them from one bad place to another!
How do we address the problems? Firstly, I'll talk about the things that we, as a Greens team, are going to try to do. Then, perhaps we might look at where Members might assist us.
Firstly, we are going to look at forms of matting that we might use at some of the pinch points. It will not totally eradicate the problem but it may help. Only problem is cost. For example, a reasonable quality hexagonal turf reinforcement mesh would cost approximately £1500 pounds for 300 metres (by 2 metres) and then it needs to be "installed"!
We are seeking advice from STRI ( Sports Turf Research Institute ) about the construction of new Winter tees. It is not a simple matter of elevating some soil and grassing it ( like a small number have suggested! ). The current Winter tees are hopelessly inadequate for a golf club as good as ours. We would like to produce more acceptable Winter tees but once again it won't come cheaply.
We will be looking to increase the amount of Vertidraining/ tining we do on the Fairways to improve subsoil aeration. Our Fairways are looking just a bit tired at the moment. We will also be increasing the fertilising of fairways which will greatly improve the growth and colour. However, it can be a bit self defeating as we will need more fairway cutting time!!
With an anticipation of a new Greens mower to add to our inventory we should be better placed to increase cutting and rolling on the Greens this year which will hopefully improve trueness and smoothness of surfaces. However, and it might as well be said now, whilst pace is important to all of us in Golf, a true, smooth and healthy sward is much more important. To search for a holy grail of 9 to 12 feet on a stimp meter for most of the summer is impractical and places the sward under too much stress. A bit like asking the Captain to play 7 or 8 below his handicap EVERY time he goes out to play. Some things are just not possible!!!
The team have made a great start on trimming back, pruning and bringing down rotten or inappropriately positioned trees. This will help improve play and have an aesthetic result for the Course as a whole.
Work on installing a new drainage system in the area of the 8th and 12th should commence in March ( finally! ) albeit at a cost of just under £10,000!
The greens team are starting work on improving the area of the practice ground, chipping and putting areas by the First Tee. This will include the bunker area and tidying around the practice net area.
We are looking to purchase white cup hole inserts to place in the Greens cups. If they work, it will smarten up the hole and probably give the cup surround some support. Our thanks to Martyn Brown for the suggestion.
Assistance from Members
Some Members regularly do work which largely goes unnoticed throughout the year. For example, the Gardening Club work tirelessly and quietly to tidy, clear and plant all sorts around the Course. Graham Roberts, John Clayton and several others work quietly away throughout the year to help make the Course more pleasant and enjoyable for others. However, we could do with a small team or list of Members who might care to help us out around the Course - whether it be collecting dead branches, staking trees, tidying around bunkers and so on. If you feel you could spare a few hours once in a while or on a regular basis perhaps you would be kind enough to get in touch with me or Peter Leath - our Head Greenkeeper. You may want to organise a small team to work on a project such as pathways around the 7th, repairing or rebuilding the drainage on the 5th tee or looking at the replacement of the Ladies Tee on the 5th to a more lady friendly position! We are looking to build a new single toilet with washbasin to replace the portacabin loo on the 8th. The portaloo costs us approx £1800 per year. I would like to see a greater array of hydrangeas on the far side of the pool on the 6th - it would make a lovely backdrop. The area at the back of the 17th is pretty terrible. If we could get agreement from the owner for Members to clear all the debris from the area around the folly, it would make a great backdrop to the 17th. We'll be getting like Augusta!!! Any support we can get to improve our Course, whether it be moral, physical or even financial, would be gratefully accepted. Food for thought to be able to give a bit back.
A few small things to finish. The ropes at the front of the 18th are there to help improve the ground in that area. Trollies may be wheeled the long way around to the right and then approach the shoe cleaner from the back of the Green or via the gateway to the Members car park. Please DO NOT take your trollies under the ropes!
The practice ground facility is proving to be a great asset to members and more members than ever before are using the area. It's great to be able to knock a basket of balls and not have to collect them. Neil charges only £2.50 for a basket or you can take up his offer of unlimited balls for only £60 pa. That's a great offer!
On the subject of offers, some of you may have noticed that Nick and Ann have now introduced breakfast, bacon butties, tea and coffee etc on Sunday mornings from 9am. Like anything else in life, if it isn't supported, it will die. So, if we want to keep the facility, we will need to support it. Why not order a bacon butty to pick up as you go through the 9th. You could even order your breakfast or sandwich the day before so that it's all ready for you when you arrive!
Enjoy your Golf
Chairman of Greens
17 February 2015
Fellow Members, the Greens team wish you all a healthy and enjoyable new year. The weather puts a bit of a dampener on the golfing activities but as long as we can maintain a few rounds each it will at least keep us mobile till the Spring arrives.
Frost and bad weather tends to close our Greens quite often in the deep winter and whilst I could go into all sorts of pros and cons about winter usage, let me say that we do not take the decision lightly to move to temporary Greens or to close the Course. There's many a member telling me that their short game is improving as a result of having to navigate around these small temps! Make a mental note for next year to protect the temps when their preparation starts next September!
Just for info I have noted over the last 2 weeks and again this weekend, we have over 500 Members playing golf between Friday and Monday. That is some heavy usage!!!
Work around the Course.
Work has commenced on the Barns to renew the old roofing. It's all rather unfortunate that we are having to spend as much as £70,000 to repair them. It doesn't improve our Greens but it's a fact of life we have to live with. Nevertheless, work on the Course will continue and, weather permitting, we will endeavour to improve on what we have.
We are looking to get a new Greens Mower ( money permitting - £30,000! ) and we are looking to improve our top dressing programme. Thatch beneath the surface of our Greens is a constant worry to the Greens team. It is invariably thatch that causes drainage and disease issues but, with Pete's experienced eye and the correct timing in applications of treatments, tining and top dressings, I see no reason why we shouldn't look forward to good Greens throughout the year.
However, I think this year we should all try to move away from an obsession with Greens speeds and look more for a true, smooth and healthy sward. Speed is obviously relevant to our game but good Greens are good Greens and I don't think discussions about whether they are 8' or 12' are as relevant as the words " healthy, smooth and true "!
I repeat below some comments made by Larry Gilhuly, a USA agronomist from the Norh West Pacific. He was writing in the latest UK Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) Bulletin about similarities and differences between the Greens in both countries - we each have a predominance of Annual Meadow Grass ( Poa Annua) in our turf.
He says that the Greens there are too fast but that surface smoothness is exceptional. He goes on to say that " perhaps the single greatest area that should be avoided by golf courses in the UK is the desire to have putting surfaces that are so fast that they extend the time it takes to play a round of golf, eliminate good hole locations and eventually require Greens renovation". He goes on to say" If nothing else, please remember this - do not follow the philosophy that fast Greens speeds are better for the game. What's better for the game ...... is smoothness. Part of the game is figuring out and adjusting to Greens speeds on a given day". How right he is to say " if only we could get golfers to understand that a missed short putt is more often the result of the player and not the condition of the Greens!"
Now, there's a man after my own heart!
Enjoy your Golf
Spring will return Soon
Chairman of Greens
The last ChitChat of the year! I hope you've enjoyed them and that they have not been too onerous to read!
I have lots of little things to pass on so here goes.......
1. Drainage on the 8th and 12th. We have the money allocated to do the work but unfortunately our drainage expert Greg has been "bogged" down with major projects elsewhere and appears to have abandoned us!! He says he is coming in the next few weeks..... We'll see! If it doesn't happen we will have to have a rethink about who does the job and when.
Staying with drainage, Pete and his team have finished the work at the start of the pathway from the 12th to the 13th. Hopefully it will work.
In the coming year we also hope to improve the drainage and tees at the 5th and 15th.
We are also hoping to allocate another £12,000 to add irrigation to another 5 tees, leaving 5 remaining to be done.
In the area of tees, we intend commencing work ( time permitting!) on the re-levelling of the 10th tee at a cost of approx £1500.
2. Barn Roofs. Unfortunately, the time is approaching to have to repair the roofs on the Workshop barn buildings. They haven't really been cared for for generations and are in danger of collapse in certain areas. It would be ideal to demolish the whole lot and erect more functional sheds to house all the Greens equipment. However, like the Clubhouse, it is a listed building and has to be restored in the appropriate manner. It is going to cost in the region of 60 to 70 thousand pounds and has to be done. The funding has been allocated for it and the work is likely to be done in the early part of next year. I won't dwell on it any further as I believe the Chairman and our present Gentleman Captain are looking at the whole thing and will bring information to all Members in due course.
3. Hopefully, funds permitting, we will get a new Greens mower ( cost approx £33,000!!!) in the Spring to help improve the Course even further. The Course has stood up well this year and the Greens in particular - it always amazes me when we consider that approximately 800 people ( and trollies! ) cross the Course each week in Summer and approx 500 in the Winter mud!
4. We have treated for worms again and this last week we have given the Greens a Winter tonic which will help with disease prevention and has already produced a little "greening up"! They will probably have one more tonic before we go into the Winter 12 weeks.
5. The 7th. Sorry to those who don't like it - a stronger chain link fence is being placed across the front of the 7th.
6. Six more ball washers should have been installed around the Course by the end of this week - sorry for the delay.
7. Don't forget the road closure at the front of the Club this week. Hopefully, the Council say, the work will be complete by Wednesday. A separate Email has gone out showing the on Course directions for traffic. Please, please, please, show lots of courtesy this week. It could get difficult on the long road from the 2nd tee to the 1st tee. Please, do not drive off the roadway onto the fairway to pass oncoming traffic. Common sense please. As a safety precaution, the 1st and 2nd holes will be closed whilst the diversion is in place.
8. Projects icon. At the top of the Greens Home page you will see an icon with the word "projects" on it. If you press on this, you will see the programme of works that we are endeavouring to do with timescales and priorities. In conjunction with myself, our Deputy Head Greenkeeper Darren Lewis will keep it up to date, so that you can see what is happening on the Course. If you wish to get something raised or want changes, please email them to me and, if they are appropriate, we can add them to the list. I would like to express my thanks to Clive Mason for creating it and helping us bring it to fruition - thank you Clive.
Finally, on behalf of myself and our small Greenkeeping team ( Peter Leath, Darren Lewis, David 'Pup' Rhodes, Jamie Lloyd and Stuart 'Stu' Bailey ), we would like to thank you all for your understanding and forbearance in the difficult times and for all your kind comments in the better times! We shall continue to work hard to be amongst the best, if not THE best of the Shropshire Golf Clubs.
Have a safe and great golfing Christmas
Chairman of Greens
Well, the golfing year is gently fading away like the leaves on the trees and as I have found myself a little spare time, I thought you might be interested in some of my ramblings!
When I look back over the year I think about all the passion that has been directed my way about the Course - supportive, cheerful, complementary, constructive, destructive and even downright rude! We have 500/600 Greenkeepers at Shifnal - like any Golf Club- and when we feel strongly about something we all,rightly, want to express it. "Why are the Greens so slow?", "Why are the Greens so fast?" - well, maybe not that one!!! Why do we, why can't we, why won't we? Every passionate comment is valid and I hope you will continue to think through and express your comments to us. Just remember that everything the Greens Staff do out there is always with a view to making things better for the majority of us but, sometimes, we can't do everything that each individual would like see. Weather, staffing, financial restraints, volumes of golfing traffic - sometimes as many as 800 in a week - all construe to trip up the best of Greenkeeping Teams. Nevertheless, we will continue our endeavours to achieve the "perfect" Course for as many Members as possible!
Please keep your comments and observations coming - we reflect on EVERY comment!!! Ps A bit of welcome good news - Darren Lewis, who is our Deputy Head Greenkeeper, is going to become a Member in the new year. Darren is currently a Member at Bridgnorth and plays off 1!!! Watch out the Honours Board! pps he did ask if we could not talk to him about work when we are playing!!
The 9th. Excluding the ladies, it is now a small walk for male members to reach the 10th Tee! The routing has been implemented, among other reasons, to alleviate the damage done to the grass at the front right of the Green and to avoid wear and tear in the "bowl" at the back of the Green. I would be grateful if the ladies, where possible, could leave their trollies just in the trees rather than in the grass at the front right of the Green.
The Greens. Our Greens are recovering from a difficult period of being unwell. However, after several treatments, they are improving rapidly and are running and putting well. We are currently cutting at a fraction under 4mm. Slitting, pencil tining and sanding will continue when weather permits. We have been getting a bit of "chatter" on the Greens recently due to the residual scarring from Fusarium and Anthracnose, but also from heavy traffic on Greens which have taken some 3" of rain over the past month or so. Tining and sanding will help keep the sward healthy and will help to firm it up.
The appearance of the Greens is often denigrated through people failing to seek out their Pitchmarks and repair them properly. This problem will be exacerbated with low winter Suns which make them difficult to see - we know they are there, please find them and repair them properly. I bet most of us would hate to have 20 big spots on our faces for 6 weeks because we were unwilling to take care of our skin!!
We are just about to purchase our 4th lot of divot bags! That's 200 in 20 months!!! Please don't take them home for the garden or to use as Christmas stockings or sweety bags for the kids! However, IF YOU DO, at least bring the bag back!!
Winter Greens. Yuk! What a thought! Pete and his team have fertilised them and treated for worms. We will endeavour to make them acceptable. Please do what you can to protect them. Playing off them and taking divots - yes, it has been done - is not acceptable to the rest of us!
Leaves - as in leafs! Work will probably go on until the first week in December - it's an endless and thankless task. No sooner do we clear up one day than they are all back again tomorrow!! Hey ho!
Speed of Play. I think most of us need to look to ourselves over this one. 4 to 4 1/2 hours are bad enough in the Summer - in the Winter they are terrible! Raise it with your playing partners and don't be afraid to politely tell each other to speed play up and endeavour to keep up with the group in front. Mark your card after you have tee'd off, place your trolley in the right place when reaching the Green, putt out if you have a tiny putt instead of marking the ball and then gazing from every possible angle before putting and missing! Put your head cover over your club and place it your bag whilst walking to your next shot, be ready to play your shot when it's your turn etc etc etc. most of us know the game well enough, make sure you politely pass on your knowledge to those who lack that awareness.
Maybe Match might consider introducing the occasional Foursomes on a weekend. Played properly it can be much quicker and is a great team game. Maybe the Seniors and the Fidde could do the same on an occasional winter morning - but for Seniors and Fiddlers please work together to do it on the same day!!
I enjoy what I do here and we have a great Greens staff. As Members and Staff we all want the same thing - a great Course, great friends and fantastic play on the Course
Enjoy your golf,
Chairman of Greens
Thought you may be grateful for a small update on Course activity during the past month!
It has been a difficult month for the Course due to the lack of rain. In the middle of August we had another attack of Fusarium which incurred an added expense of £850 to our budget. Fortunately, there are only traces of it left on the Greens.
The fairways look a little tired and brown due to the lack of rain and old divots continue to dry out leaving an untidy picture on the Course. This has been further exacerbated by an early leaf fall caused by the dry weather.
Balls are running forever - the secret is to get your ball to hit the green rather than the apron!
The next 12 days are going to see some intense activity on the Course what with the Club Championship, the Pro Am, the PGA Pro Tournament, Ladies and Gents Invitation Days and a Men's Senior Open. Check carefully if you need to book a tee time!
Work at the back of the 12th has now been completed ( a drainage point from the path at back of 12 ). The grill to fit over it was going to cost £1350 plus vat so Peter Leath ( our Head Greenkeeper ) made one to fit for free!
I continue to receive complaints from a small band of Members about the Greens being too slow. Their comments are not always unfounded and the Greens have gone through a difficult period during the last month so that we raised the height of cut to 4mm from 3.5mm. However, Greens speeds have still not fallen below 9 ft which is generally regarded to be a fast pace. People often quote me South Staffs greens speeds of 12' plus. The only response I can make to that is that if we shaved our greens to achieve that speed, (which, probably, 90% of our membership couldn't cope with! ), then within a few weeks, with the volume of traffic we have across our Greens, the sward would get battered and the Greens would be wrecked!
Enjoy your Golf
Chairman of Greens
Click on the link below to view the STRI report.
Short note to everybody concerning this weeks work on the Course.
It's been a difficult week because we lost Monday to a Bank Holiday and received 24 mm of rain up until Tuesday lunchtime. Work was further disrupted by the loss of our Deputy Head Greenkeeper ( Darren Lewis - on 2 weeks holiday! ).
The "hollow tining" on Tue/ Wed was, in fact, not hollow tining, but the application of Browntop Bent overseeding. We had to do it on Wed because, having paid for the hire of the machine, we had to carry out the work. Then with it remaining damp on Wed morning we were unable to top dress - typical! Especially with the Course crowded and a large Society visiting!
The problems continued into Thursday with the ladies 2 Competitions and the Greens staff trying to catch up! It must have seemed to the Ladies that there was work going on all around them all day! We apologise unreservedly to the Ladies for not being able to get out of the way as we would normally try to do. And now, to cap it all, the indifferent weather has brought us another attack of Fusarium. Another application of medicine goes down this next Monday.
Hopefully, things will settle down ( though Staff holidays reduce our manpower by one for the whole of September! ). We have a difficult and busy time coming up with many Societies visiting, the Club Championship ( 20th ), the Pro Am (22nd ), the PGA Professional Tournament (23rd ), the Ladies Invitation ( 25th ) and the Men's Invitation on the 28th!
The Course is going to take a hammering - please do what you can to help preserve it.
The STRI Report is in and I'm hoping to download it digitally next week so that you can read it to your partner at night before you go to sleep! Alternatively, I shall be hanging up a copy in the corridor.
Enjoy your Golf,
Chairman of Greens
Well, it has been a busy time since my last ChitChat - lots of praise, lots of criticism, lots of expenditure and lots of activity!
Let's see if I can give you a flavour of some of the activities.
Drainage on the 8th and 12th Fairways :
Unfortunately, we we're let down at the last moment by Greg ( the contractor who looks after our drainage ). Despite the long term booking he was confronted with a difficult choice and we were the losers. Nevertheless, his knowledge of our Course and his expertise are second to none and we are looking to see if the work can be re-arranged with him for Sept or Oct.
You have probably noticed that the lovely old horse chestnut tree on the 3rd has finally been taken down. The work on the tree to the right of the 7th has also been completed ( hooray say the left handers! ). Unfortunately, it has cost us almost a £1000!
Over the coming months we are looking to cut down a lot of the overhanging branches from many of the trees around the Course - particularly those that interfere with our golf swings!
The 13th Pool :
The Greens Staff have recently been trying to kill off some of the Water Lillies on the pond before the Lillies take over and suffocate it - so fear not, we are not trying to destroy them - just control them!
Work on the Greens and Course during closure :
Lots of activity and a huge thank you to everybody who contributed during that time. Self help - divotting, painting of the Starter Hut and divot bag holder, cleaning of the Millenium Hut - all the little things that go unnoticed! Have you noticed the work to the left of the 7th Tee or the renovation of the Major Gwilt plaque and surrounding area by the 13th! A big thank you to all concerned.
The Greens were Verti-drained, top dressed and fertilised and with the recent rain and warmth it has caused a flush of growth, slowing the Greens down a bit. As of today the height of cut has been reduced back down to 3.5 mill and we are back cutting and rolling.
Materials and chemicals have been an expensive element and knocked a bit of a hole in our budget - especially with additional expense for machinery maintenance.
Sports Turf Research Institute ( STRI ) Report : a copy of this report will be placed in the corridor after next Wednesday. It will take a bit of reading! Please don't take it away from the Clubhouse. If anybody wishes to seek a better understanding of the technical points ( it does get a bit heavy!) or would like to discuss any general points, please speak to me or Email me.
The Report does have a go about our small budget for Greens Maintenance when looking to compare like for like Courses. However, we can only work within the limits of our Club budgets. We occupy a Grade 11 listed building and whilst it is a beautiful setting, it doesn't go without enormous cost.
Unfortunately, the Workshops and Barns to the rear of the Clubhouse also come under the Grade 11 listing and we can be forced to rectify issues even if we would rather leave well alone. Over the next 2 years we are going to have to find around £60,000 to carry out this work. Members won't "SEE" any golfing advantage from such a large expenditure but we can't bury our heads! There are legal processes which will make us carry out this safety work. In the long term it is for the safety of our Greens staff that this work will have to be done.
To return to the STRI Report, on our limited budget vis a vis other similar Clubs, the Report fails to point out that our Annual subscriptions often fall well below that of other similar Clubs. Some "like for like" Courses are charging in excess of £1000 per annum for membership!
Greens Speeds :
2nd Green. 8' 8"
4th Green. 10' 1/2"
9th Green. 10' 1"
18th Green. 9' 0"
Practice green at front of Clubhouse. 7'10" ( 8' 11" if you put around the fringe of the Green!!! )
The Greens have been cut and rolled twice this week. Greens are marginally slower than I would have expected and this is probably down to the flush of growth after the application of fertiliser 10 days ago, followed by warm sunshine and showers.
Measurements taken on Friday 15th August at 1pm
Golf Rules around Shifnal :
You knock your ball into the woods on the 9th! What are your options?
1. If you go in the woods and don't find your ball then you need to return to the tee and play "3 off the tee"!
Unless, of course, you had already played a provisional ball off the tee in which case you would play the "provisional" ball.
2. You find your ball - just play it! However, if the ball is unplayable then you can drop the ball WITHIN 2 club lengths no nearer the hole and then play it for a one shot penalty.
3. If you wish, you may take an extension backwards of a line from the flag through the ball and go back as far as you like before dropping it and then playing with a one shot penalty.
You cannot "just drop it outside the bushes or trees cos that's the only way I can get to the ball to make a stroke"!!!
Enjoy your Golf
Chairman of Greens
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