With a little over 2 months until the Open Championship begins the R&A, Greenkeepers and contractors are working tirelessly to ensure that we are on on schedule to deliver the Championship and exceed expectation.
Conditions have been excellent for the build and some reasonable temperatures should now promote some growth for our staff to begin the final polish to surfaces.
The putting surfaces are strong for the time of year in Portrush as our growing season is later than most of the UK and Ireland.
The small percentage of annual meadow grass is now seeding which is normal for the time of year and as this ends later this month the annual meadow grass with refine while fescue strengthens.
The 1st fairway earlier this week.
I have been surprised by how close spectators will get to the action. There should be an amazing atmosphere in the grandstand surrounding 18th green.
As planned, the front 9 of the Valley Links closes tomorrow afternoon due to infrastructure build.
In the last 2 weeks contractors have been moving on site to begin the build for the 148th Open.
Over the next 3 weeks, the horseshoe grandstand surrounding the 18th green & 1st green grandstand shown in the picture should be almost complete.
With only 20 weeks until the first day of the Open Championship it feels like spring is here. We are definitely not packing away the winter woollies just yet though..
Having said that we are priming the irrigation system again this week and Chris & Ben are ensuring all of the air is out of the pipe work before the system can be fully pressurised.
With the sun shining and the evenings becoming longer, the turf looks as it does mid summer. Light dustings of sand have been applied to greens, surrounds and tees for the last month or so.
Removal of excessive sand in bunkers has been carried out this week with holes 1-14 almost complete. It was felt that bunkers were a little shallow and the indigenous sand can be moved around by wind and become a little soft.
Bella’s first week at work, enjoying lunch times!
Open short game area bunkers requiring a little reparation.
A day of staff training for all of the full-time green staff last Thursday saw us work through all of our machinery during an on-site training day.
Time is now being allocated to the Valley links and Conchobhar, Andy and Gary have been doing a great job of re-building some of the bunkers
Stuart McKee assisting in clearing contractors cable reels as construction work nears an end.
With only 6 months to go until the Open Championship, the team have been working on “walk off’s” from greens and tees for players and spectators.
The major works which are “in play” were completed before Christmas with the intention to rest Dunluce, through what is usually the most difficult time of year for us.
Contractors are working well, completing the last pieces of roadway which will link tv compounds with the golf courses.
The last pieces/tails of ducting are being mole ploughed in, these areas are out of play.
Boston Networks began blowing fibre through the underground ducts on Wednesday which will serve all of the media, grandstands and on course areas with WiFi.
The machine feeds the fibre through the ducting using compressed air to reduce friction while the fibre is pushed through the duct.
Ground pressure testing being carried out to ascertain load bearing for temporary structures.
Prioritised winter work on Dunluce is nearing completion which include, rough management, bunker re-builds, turfing and topdressing. We have been lucky, with no major frost delaying work, but staff have worked through wind and rain to complete all work in areas which we consider to be “in play”.
Contractors have been on site for the last few months carrying out additional ground works to spectator areas, tunnel, fibre for WiFi and other services.
The drainage project on the Valley was the Greenkeepers major task this winter which was carried out and completed through November.
Stream extension is now complete on the 12th meaning that shots which miss the green short right may now find the stream.
Bunker 3rd greenside
Bunker re-build left of 5, and the bunker on the right is now also complete.
Bunker re-build on the 3rd
All cut grass on both courses have been top-dressed and brushed using our new Weidenmann terra brush.
New bunker re-build on the left of 4 was previously hidden from view. We have raised the left side to give a view from the tee.
New semi-rough mower arrived this week.
Bunker re-build right of the 1st fairway creates a stronger challenge with the base being lowered slightly.
Bunker re-build short left of 15 green will be completed on Monday.
Dunluce 7th, one of our new holes looking well in autumn sunshine.
The shelters which were blocking our tunnel ends have now been removed ready for path surfacing.
The beginning of our Valley drainage project, draining holes 4,5,10,11. The turf was stripped wider than the 13 ton excavator so that drainage could be installed cleanly before turf was relaid without damage.
The dune-slack was increased in size to allow the drain to run freely.
A before and after picture of the 18th greenside bunker on Dunluce.
One of 2 bunkers to be re-built on the 18th fairway.
This week we shall carry out some drainage work on the Valley to tackle some areas which can become wet in winter. There was a clay pipe drainage but, inevitably this was disturbed during the installation of our irrigation system in 2009 when irrigation pipes were installed using a mole plough. The majority of the work will be complete by the weekend. Holes to be drained include 4th, 5th, 10th & 11th.
There are some small additions to spectator areas, and also a few additional services to be installed over the next number of weeks, as well as the tunnel ends to be removed before flooring is laid.
None of this work around Dunluce will affect how the course plays.
New pathway must be laid to allow access from the hockey pitch to the links which is necessary for tv buggies next year.