We are two weeks back into golf and I would like to think you can all now appreciate the wisdom of keeping Blue and Ian working on the course during “lockdown”. Alan Jones, immediate Past Captain and a member at March Golf Club for forty-one years said to me this week “in all the time I have been a member here I have never seen the course looking better. A big thank you is due to our brilliant green keeping pair, the Seniors for their generosity, and the numerous volunteers, who have all helped to make this possible”.
The greens are superb thanks not only to the acquisition of the new aerator and the turf iron, but also the expertise of Blue and Ian. We have had one small hiccup as the crows, rooks and magpies have taken a liking to the leatherjackets beneath the turf and have caused quite a bit of damage to some of the greens, particularly the eighth. The leatherjacket is the larval stage of the crane fly and in April they move up to the root zone of the grass, where, during May, they grow and change into pupae – tasty morsels for the aforementioned pests.
The fairways were also looking a picture a few weeks ago, but following the wettest February on record we have seen hardly any rain at all since then. Rainfall in April was well below average and we are heading for the driest ever May. The grass is already scorched and the familiar cracking is beginning to appear. We can but hope we don’t get another summer like that of two years ago when drought conditions caused untold damage to both greens and fairways. We can but pray for rain.
You will have noticed that the bunker to the left of the third green has disappeared and may have questioned why?
Evidently some years ago the third green was considerably larger and much further to the left. At that time the bunker in question was a greenside bunker. As the large tree in front of the bunker got bigger it obstructed the approach shot to the green so the green was moved to the right and over time became much smaller (as did many of the other greens).
If you pull your approach shot to the left of the green you invariably hit the tree. Rarely did you get through the tree and finish in the bunker so the main penalty was the tree and not the bunker, making it somewhat superfluous.
Another problem was, that with the bunker subsequently in the rough and with steep sides, it was impossible to cut with the “rough cutter”, and our Greenkeepers were obliged to use the strimmer – a considerable waste of valuable time that could be better spent on other parts of the course.
You will have already noted a vast improvement to the shaping of the bunkers, thanks almost entirely to the sterling work of Tom Sharpe. We now have a large group of volunteers who have offered to maintain the bunkers, trimming the grass around the edges and raking periodically, but please do not expect miracles. Without the rakes in situ, at times they will inevitably leave a lot to be desired unless you are playing just after they have been raked.
Those of you with buggies will have noticed that at last the matting in front of the sheds has been laid. The installation was carried out by four volunteers, two from the Greens Sub–committee and two members, Paul Goddard and Jed Vawser. Hopefully when winter is upon us ingress & egress to the sheds will be greatly improved
As a result of the Covid-19 virus and the severe impact it has had on our finances we are being forced to work with a severely reduced Green staff.
Normally at this time of the year we would have a head Greenkeeper plus two permanent assistants but we are having to survive with just Blue and Ian. Their time is stretched to the limit, therefore throughout what remains of the year we will have to survive with the aid of volunteers.
We have many volunteers who go unnoticed in the Club and my thanks go out to all of you for helping to make our course what it is. You will be needed even more during this vital period of financial hardship.
I don’t think I have anything further to add other than to say that I hope you have the most enjoyable, albeit somewhat curtailed, year on our fantastic nine – hole course.