Contributed By: Eoghan Buckley, Head Greenkeeper
We are almost at the end of March now and its fair to say we have had a real return to traditional spring weather, with frequent wet days and strong winds. For most of the country, February was a great month with very little rainfall and unusually mild conditions. This allowed a lot of courses the opportunity to bring forward any renovation work they were planning on greens. Coinciding with all that great weather was also a huge amount of golf traffic, the most I have seen in a long time. A lot of areas on the course are suffering now with lots of wear from this increased traffic. We will look to add some extra nutrition in these areas in the next few weeks to help with recovery.
This winter has seen us do a lot of maintenance on machines with a big focus on the 12-year-old fairway mower. With over 4,000 hours on the clock we are hoping to get it through at least this season in anticipation of replacement next year. We installed new bushings and rebuilt the arms that hold the mowing units. This should help to reduce the amount of play there was present after all the years’ service. The units were sent away for grinding and some bearings were also replaced in a few rollers.
The rest of the equipment has had all service work done as per manual direction and greasing of all points as needed. The fleet is getting old so its important to be as diligent as possible about servicing and greasing.
Another winter project which the team have undertaken this year has been the in house making of our tee markers. They are cheap and cheerful and won’t last forever as they are softwood timber stakes. The material cost to make the markers was under €300 and the labour was always on days when it was too wet to be out on the course. My preferred option long term would be a recycled plastic marker with a logo but currently, these will suffice. They are a definite step up on the tee markers they have replaced which were well beyond their expiry date.
I’m pleased to say that after years of no automatic irrigation at Birr we finally have the system back up and running. It has taken a lot of digging, replacement of parts and cable and a few long days with Aquaturf on site. Having to work off a drawing of the original system on greaseproof paper was a challenge when it came to tracing wire, so one of my winter projects next year is to update that map to a digital version which is current and useable. We still have about 40 old heads we need to replace on the old soil greens, but at least we are in a better position long term once we get them installed. A massive thank you to the Grant family who donated a significant sum to pay for replacement parts and installation and troubleshooting by Aquaturf.
As the course starts to dry up we will start to drop heights for summer conditions. I for one am looking forward to getting back on a mower for a few hours. Its been a long winter of digging holes and plumbing!!