The year has got off to a benign start. We have had a few frosts (Note: Eaton is always appreciably colder than elsewhere locally) interspersed with periods of above average temperatures, and there have been a few showers. The most effective way to dry our wet ground in winter is by evaporation, which works best with low humidities and some decent winds. We've had neither, so the course remains soft. The buggy ban remains: after frosts the wheels damage the grass, causing black wheel marks.
Current course work is focused on trees. Pruning generates a fair amount of brash, hence the bonfires around the course. This is almost finished. Gavin has started his annual machinery servicing (oil, hydraulics, filters, gaskets, etc.) which takes most of January. He also sharpens the mower blades. We have our own grinding equipment and hoist to enable this. It’s a very precise task; any faults are quickly visible.
The greens were cut earlier in the month, for the first time since before Christmas. The fairways and tees were cut this past week. There is not much coming off but it tidies them up, and keeping the fairways short assists in evaporative drying. Worm casts are quite prominent, and now need to be brushed off since the EU banned the carbendazim spray which we previously used a year or so ago.
All greens have been deep (12”) vertidrained to aerate and relieve compaction. They have also been sprayed with essential minerals (iron, copper, magnesium etc.) as a tonic. They have also been rolled to tidy up the surface.
We have also planted 3 semi-mature trees near the fairway bunker on 2, and might supplement them by replanting a couple of the trees we will remove from around the new fairway bunker on 3, if they are up to it. The new planting on 2 is intended to emphasise the left course boundary and is part of our response to the perceived risk to traffic on the adjacent road.
The 13th white/yellow tee was brought back into play after Christmas. Closure was caused by two significant slip incidents. There is no clear answer to the problem - the poor surface in that area would not facilitate banding. We will probably scatter sand to firm up the surface and, as required, route foot traffic away from the risky area.
The new fairway mower has been delivered but for now will remain in the sheds. There is no sign of the new rough cutter but there is also no urgency for it.
A couple of nature notes: there are 3 or 4 clumps of hardy miniature white cyclamen in flower in the copse on the right of 15 just past the sheds, and a good display of catkins on the woodland masking the same sheds. Spring is predicted!