Winter work and Update.
It has been 7 months since I joined Morecambe GC, which, apart from the weather has been really enjoyable. I have meet some lovely people and the rest of the “team” seem to have a passion and real connection with the club.
My initial thoughts regarding prioritising projects and aims was based on my early days. Unfortunately, 2017 was a far from average year weather wise. The total for the year was only slightly above average at 1,017mm. But the year was divided up with the first 6 months having just 259mm and the last 6 months having 758mm! That’s 50% more rainfall than average in 6 months. This has had a major impact on the management and playability of the course.
Winter work programme.
The original intention this Autumn/Winter was to improve drainage, remove trees, extend Tee areas and renovate and improve bunkers. A great deal of drainage work and tree removal has already taken place to great effect, but no Tee or bunker work. I propose that we concentrate on the drainage issues and tree removal as these two areas are fatally linked. Our priority is always to keep the course open and playable as long as possible and with the weather patterns that are forecast, removing water from the course is vital.
The drainage and improvements to the valley have had a really positive impact on this major area of the course. Standing water has been greatly reduced and the surfaces are firmer and recover better following heavy rain. The crossing points will also provide a tidier appearance and hopefully reduce wear. Further improvements may be added in future as the ditch is now easy to access. The drainage work on the 4th fairway has dried out the majority of the problem areas. More work may be needed on this huge area, but a great start has been made.
The carry on the 8th hole has also had its standing water removed with new piped drains, I know this area has been a problem for many winters and with a small amount of further drainage work, the issues will be fixed.
The tree work is having a real impact on the course drainage wise and visually. As I said earlier these two are linked and attached is a photo of the “root” of the problem.
The 1st hole now has a much larger view of the seafront and the trees up the L/H side have been cleaned up to speed up play. This tree removal extends across past the 2nd tee giving over 125 metres of unobstructed views. The area alongside the 2nd green has been cleared of trees and extended round the corner onto the 3rd hole and includes the removal of the gorse.
The views across the bay to Grange are now clear from the 15th green/16th tee. These trees are the reason the L/H side of the 3rd hole is currently unfit for play as the existing drainage is full of roots. The trees between the 4th & 16th holes have been removed as well as the large trees on the L/H side of the 16th hole. These were reducing water movement, damaging the drains and causing shade and leaf litter issues on the green. The green should thaw out quicker and have improved surfaces as a result. These trees have also added to the improved view across the bay. The R/H side of the 17th hole has benefited from the removal of Hawthorn, Privet, Willow and Sycamore. This has left a lone Pine which has been tidied up and should develop into standalone feature.
The 3rd hole needs urgent attention, so I have already installed 100 metres of 100mm pipe and stone which outfalls into the 2nd pond. I propose to extend this work into the L/H side of the 3rd green to return the area to play. Any stumps will be removed and the area will then benefit from attractive mounding being formed and seeded with fine leaved fescues. The outstanding tree stumps around the course will be dug out and the holes repaired including the large two in the car park. The trees across the back of the 5th tee will be thinned out and the bottom of the pine trees will be lifted to improve sunlight and air movement. The tee is large but grass cover is thin and weak, these things will improve. If time allows, I propose to remove as many trees as possible from the 12th hole. The turf conditions on this hole have deteriorated badly, with a wet soil profile impacted with worm casts. Any improvement to air movement and sunlight will greatly benefit the surfaces.
The proposals for the above work are just the start of what hopefully becomes an annual programme of improvements. The club intend to create a document detailing the long term aims and ambitions of the club. This should provide a template for the future management and success of the club and course. If it is our intention to continue the improvements, I propose the club investigate the purchase of a S/H excavator (3 tonne). I also recommend the club looks into the purchase of a dedicated fairway aerator to improve water movement through the soil profile in all areas of the course. We have an excellent new tractor which would be ideal to power it.
Despite the above issues, the course has not suffered many closures and the greens are in great condition, with dry firm surfaces. Imagine what we can achieve with further improvement.
Mark Jones, Course Manager.