Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas from EGCagronomy!

Christmas unfortunately may be a bit wet here at EGC this year. With the storms yesterday the river decided to burst it's banks last night. We suggest santa brings a boat with him this year whilst delivering presents!

As it's Christmas we don't want to end on a negative note so we've posted this picture of the course last summer. The shortest day has passed and we are now on our way to spring. We wish all our members and guests a merry Christmas. Let's hope it dries up soon so that we can get all our new presents out on the golf course!

Friday, 20 December 2013

Adidas Zero's are not welcome at EGC!

Today we have taken the unusual step of banning some golf shoes. Within the greenkeeping world there has been much talk about the damage done by certain golf shoes to our greens. A new design seems to be coming out frequently and some of these can seriously damage the putting surfaces. As you can see from the picture to the left, Adidas Zero's golf shoes have left a bumpy surface on our greens. It looks like a pair of football boots have been walked across the greens. Until their soles become friendlier they wont be welcome at Ealing for the foreseeable future!

Friday, 6 December 2013

Winter is here!

This week winter has definately felt like it has arrived. We've had a couple of mornings of frost and the air temperature has dropped suddenly. As the golf course has dried out a lot over the past few weeks we decided to give all playing areas a trim before christmas. As usual greens,approaches and fairways were cut but on top of this surrounds,tee banks, semi-rough and full rough were tidied up. These areas can only be cut when ground conditions are suitable at this time of year. Not so much of making hay while the sun shines, but rather cutting when the rain stops!

On top of this we are right in the middle of leaf clearance. During November and December a big operation goes in to place to collect all the leaves that fall from the trees. Around 200 labour hours has been spent so far to blow and pick up the leaves. If we don't then they will mulch in to the ground smothering the grass plant. Also finding golf balls in amongst heavy piles can be problematic. They may look beautiful up on the trees at this time of year, but on the floor they can be a pain for the golfers!

The Oaks looking lovely

Thursday, 14 November 2013

1st and 8th Drainage Works Completed

After 6 (long) weeks we finally finished the fairway draining to holes 1 and 8 last week. It has been an intense period, but secondary drainage went on top of the primary drainage. The big challenge for this area was irrigation pipework and natural falls. Or rather a lack of it! In total we had to cross the irrigation system 30 times, which was a huge challenge in itself and very time consuming. The other issue was the lack of a natural gradient on the 8th fairway. We managed to overcome both and from the video to the left, it's always nice to see water gushing out at the end!

The secondary drainage system consisted of gravel banding at 90degree angles to the land drainage. We included the 4th fairway in with this work which had land drainage installed last year. A small trench was cut about 30mm wide and 200mm deep, with gravel backfilled in to it. We invested in this machine last year and even during the poor weather last week, it left a nice job. We then top-dressed on top of this to finish it off. As we sit on good old London clay, secondary drainage will be as important as primary drainage long term. 

Gravel Bander at work

The Finished 8th Fairway
All this work has been completed in house. As well as the gravel bander we invested in a chain trencher, which enable us to do so. We have now completed our major drainage works for this year and in two years, 4 holes have had drainage installed in them. We will do some other minor works around the place over the winter but the next big phase will commence next autumn. Watch out the 2nd fairway. You are next on the list!!!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

St. Jude's Storm Hits Ealing Golf Club

2 lanes closed on the A40
Last week we had the pleasure of a storm ripping through Ealing Golf Course. It was not a pretty site and in total we had 25 trees that were either up rooted or had major limbs fall off them. The most dangerous one was at 6.45am when a poplar tree decided to fall on the A40, which is a major road out of London. Two lanes were shut whilst the greenstaff and police cleared the area. To cap matters off, the river decided to burst it's banks. We don't have these storms very often, but when they do come, destruction is left behind!

As you can guess it was a busy week with the greenstaff clearing up the debris. We would have to say that we have had better weeks but by the end of the week, all the major trees were chopped up and debris mostly cleared. It will take some weeks to clear fully but for the time being the golf course is playable again. From the pictures below you can see some of the issues that we faced!

4th Green area

4th Green after being flooded by the river
Tree split in half

Bit hard getting in to the maintenance compound

Up rooted tree on the 7th
Roots bigger than our tractor

Tree chopped up

Looking quite sad!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Greens Renovations - Digging them up!

The greens have performed great this year. Before the season started we set ourselves a goal that on a daily basis throughout the playing season (spring to autumn meeting) the greens would not drop below 10.5 feet. This was achieved:) Undoubtedly the good summer helped us here but our long term agronomic plan allows us to achieve our targets.

Last week we did our annual maintenance to the greens. It was a very intense week and the greens were worked very hard. It consisted of deep aerating the greens with a 20mm tine down to 250mm. We then applied 30tonnes of sand and brush it in to the holes.

Next up was the deep aerator again, but instead of a 20mm tine we used a smaller 12mm. This was to 'drive' the sand down the tine holes and help to close them up. We then applied another 20tonnes of sand and finished off with an organic granular fertiliser to aid recovery. When doing this work we included the collars and approaches. It was a long week!

It did not go with out hiccups (namely the weather), but we feel that we acheived our goals. Over the years aeration and sand has been the backbone to our agronomic plan. As these greens are considered 'old clay push ups', they were designed to hold water. This was pre-irrigation systems and keeping hold of moisture was key to their success. However, this changed around 60 years ago and as we have play for 12months of the year, getting water moving through the profile is now the key to their success.

The work that we did last week may seem unsettling in the short term, but long term it allows us to get them performing to a great standard in all weathers!

Sand dumped on the green
Sand applied to the 20mm holes

20mm Tine hole
Sand being worked in
12mm tine 'driving' the sand in to the 20mm holes
Organic fertiliser being applied

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Drainage Project - Week 2

So far progress has been slow but steady. The first area that we are draining is traditionally the wettest part of the golf course. It runs from the high side of the 8th, through the rough and past the 1st fairway. This zone on its own is a huge challenge in itself.  It goes directly across the fairway irrigation system and for the five runs that we are making, we have to cross it 28 times!

The main bulk of this zone has now been completed but it hasn't gone without any hiccups. Unfortunately we hit our first irrigation pipework at the end of last week. We managed to avoid 27 of them so far but one got away:( However, it was fixed straight away and we move on:)

All efforts will now concentrate on getting the area ready for the weekend when the holes will be fully operational again. So far the feedback has been great with many members commenting on how clean it looks once finished.

After this area has been drained in a couple of weeks then we will start connecting the surface moisture to the drains. Both the 1st and 8th holes will be hollow-cored, scarified,verti-drained,gravel banded and finished off with a heavy sand dressing. It will help rainwater once on the ground to move in to land drains. Many long hours are going in by the greenstaff, but once winter sets in it will be worth it!

All pipework 'lasered' in

Good old London clay!

All fairway lines are re-turfed

Trencher leaves a lovely cut

Pipework repaired

If in trouble, call the 'Dominator'

Turfcutter takes turf off the fairways

Join on the far side of the 8th fairway

Trencher at work

Monday, 30 September 2013

Drainage Project Commences!

Today we start work on draining the fairways on holes 1,2,7,8 and 12. It will be an intense and disruptive period but at the end of it we are sure it will be worth it. Water control on a golf course is critical in producing successful playing surfaces. When it's hot (like we had this summer) getting them irrigated with a good efficient watering system is crucial to keep turf healthy. In 2006 we upgraded our system to allow us to do so. However when the weather turns nasty and wet, then getting water away from site becomes a priority. This is where a good drainage system comes in. Unfortunately our system is old and in urgent need of replacing.

Drainage Project - Phase 2

Last winter we commenced phase 1 of our drainage project. The aim over the coming years is to completely renew our system and make the golf course as good in the winter as the summer. We installed several hundred meters of pipework last year on the river holes 3,4,15 and 17. A couple of weeks ago the river did burst its banks and this is where we saw the benefit of the renewed drainage system. Instead of the course being shut for a number of days, 15 holes were open one day after and all 18 the following day to a good standard.

Loch Lomond 10th Fairway
In preparation for the coming works, a couple of weeks ago the Course Manager, Deputy and Mechanic took a trip up to Loch Lomond in Scotland to see how they drained their golf course. It was an impressive trip and many things were learnt that we will be implementing down here at our site. Loch Lomond Golf Course is a very challenging site and they have treble the amount of rainfall that we have here at Ealing. Like us they did the work in house and over a number of years. It was on a much bigger scale but the interesting thing that we took out of it was that it's never ending. On the day of the visit, and even though the whole golf course had been completely drained, they were aerating and sanding a fairway to improve the drainage there!

We will be doing regular blogs over the coming weeks to let you see how progress is going. To be kept informed, please submit your email address on the icon to the right.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The River Decided To Burst Its Banks!

Unfortunately last Saturday the river decided to burst its banks. As the river Brent flows through the middle of the golf course it comes in to play on 9 holes. It is a huge feature of our golf course, but the downside to this is that in the 1960's the river authorities installed a dam downstream to stop Greenford Town flooding. On average it floods five times a year and because it has been a dry year so far it is the first time it has flooded. The damage that it leaves behind varies from minor to heavy. We would say that this one was on the heavy side so we had to close the course for Saturday's play.

Once the river level dropped below the drainage pipes, the water went back very quickly. This drainage was updated last winter and instead of the course being closed for a number of days, 15 holes were open on the Sunday and the full 18 by the Monday. A great effort was put in by the greenstaff and looking at the course today you would hardly noticed what had happened. The pictures below will give you an idea of the devistation and the clear up operation undertaken by the staff. The greens and tees were absolutely fine. It was getting to them that was the problem!

4th Lefthand Bunker
Looks quite impressive at that height

4th Fairway

12th Hole

Debris on the 10th green
View down the 17th fairway

15th Fairway
10th Bunker

15th Bunker

15th Drain working well
Blower working to clear the debris
1st thing Sunday we are all out there!

Scrapping off the top layer of silt

Bunker back in play

Greens still look great!

Back to normal

We all needed cheering up then:)