147th Open at Carnoustie

What a brilliant week at Carnoustie Golf Links for this years Open Championship.

After unprecedented drought conditions, the Links was a dry as any of the greens staff could remember and although this meant that there was very little mowing to be done, this creates its own challenges in achieving consistent playing surfaces. This was done brilliantly by the team at Carnoustie.

Once play finishes today, the countdown begins for the 148th Open at Royal Portrush.

Aaron Bell volunteered to assist the greens staff for the week in mowing tees and surrounds amongst other tasks. This is the 3rd Open Championship in which we have sent our own greenkeepers to assist, which has been great experience for our own staff.

This years Open venues volunteers

I attended the build up from Sunday through Wednesday for both morning and evening set up which was great to see. Sandy Reid, Craig Boath and their team were very accommodating and generous in their time which was really beneficial to us for next years Championship.

North of Ireland Championship

Another fine week of weather for the North of Ireland Championship the competitors were lucky enough to play in benign conditions.

The course is as firm as most can remember yet we have been able to use just enough water to keep the turf alive.

2 weeks ago we began lightly watering landing areas morning and evening to aid germination of divots as this is the down side to these drought conditions.

Greens were rolling at 10′ 2″ at the beginning of the week increasing to 10′ 6″ by the final day on Friday.

Paul, waiting for the hole paint to dry a little before the next coat.

Valley 4th on Qualifying days

Graeme gave up some of his down time for a photo shoot on Wednesday

1st tee looking a little parched

Dunluce 4th green on Monday

Gary taking care of Dunluce approaches

Ben keeping a close eye on dry areas on Dunluce

Did we miss Spring?

Seems strange that recently we had frost and cold northerly winds which meant that winter playing conditions continued for a month longer than normal.

This was taken early this bank holiday Monday from the 5th green. To think I came to work with a coat on.. it was almost 20 degrees by the time I left in the morning.

New Dunluce 7th looking back towards the tee. The new fairways tend to dry down a little quicker than others, which is normal for a new hole.

Last week Trevor finished the mammoth task of over-seeding, which has been carried out using the procore to Dunluce, Valley and Skerries greens & surrounds, tees, grass paths and weak areas. Both machines have been out when weather conditions allowed since the beginning of April.

Work being carried out on the Valley 14th, Andy walking the procore to the next grass path and Gary cutting the fairway.

This is the greenside bunker on 11 which was re-built this winter and looks quite good I think now that the rough has begun to grow in on the top.

A recent visit from the BBC to view the course changes.

Sand Martins have found a home in our topsoil stockpile where overnight we had a dozen nests so the area has been protected until nesting is over. Some sand areas through the Valley also have large numbers of sand martins. Bare sand areas, although they may not look like, they are great natural habitat for these birds.

Round up of winter works

Now that the weather is finally improving and temperatures have reached double figures it seems as though spring is here. Over the course of this week and some of last week, we have completed our greens over-seeding, and also some tees and grass paths. The new Valley 15th green is on course to open at the end of the month, and at last there is some growth.

Germination should be relatively quick now, and with rain forecast for next week, this will be of benefit to the seed if nothing else.

I would like to say that I am proud of the team for all of the good work completed over what has been a difficult winter in terms of weather, but also workload. We set ourselves a very busy winter schedule with lots of turfing work, bunker re-builds which is all heavy work. We carried out extensive work managing roughs and also removed more sea buckthorn bushes as part of our ecology plan with the STRI.

Lots of irrigation repairs and alterations have been carried out “in house” which has also been a great effort.

Here are a few pictures of some of the works carried out.

Final brushing of sand during Overseeding work this week

Greens last weekend, still showing good density of fescue despite the difficult winter

Our new trailer designed and built by Stephen Walker

New Valley 15th green after first cut

Digging in the pipe for new borehole on the Valley 2nd

Peterson Drill rig on the Valley

New path added on Valley 3rd and new bench on 3rd tee

Smoothing of new roughs and bunker on Dunluce 7th

New roads, ducting and some of the irrigation pipes encountered throughout the courses.

Here are a series of pictures showing some of the great levelling work done on tees this winter. I do like this one!

A summary of Links improvements and Phase 2 works

After the first weekend closure in a number of years, both courses are now back open for play. The strong winds blew powdery dry snow into bunkers and hollows so some snow still remains. Due to the strong winds we also had some severe sand blow from bunkers and construction areas so the clean up process starts tomorrow.

Representatives from the R&A braved the elements last week to view spectator routing in the snow.

The 14th greenside bunker had become soft due to moss and the ball would occasionally stop on the face where we felt that it should continue into the bunker. The whole bunker was stripped and the face re-shaped very slightly. We are really pleased with the result.

An unusual easterly wind removed some bunker sand which we plan to tidy again tomorrow.

Snow had to be removed before the 2 remaining bunker bases could be shaped. Bradley and Conchobhar though that another pair of hands would be beneficial. ☃️ use your initiative I said….

Winter Work and Phase 2 Update

Phase 2 works have been moving along nicely as well as our winter work programme which has meant that the course staff have been as busy as we would be mid summer, as a result, apologies for the lack of posts recently.

Despite wide spread frost through the UK and Ireland we have remained relatively unaffected.

The courses have been very busy throughout the Christmas period which has resulted in additional wear to the links.

The new Dunluce Greens 2 & 10 have been rested and as a result have strengthened and density has returned.

We have concentrated on bunker repairs, re-turfing work and tee levelling. Also the Valley 15th green was lifted, re-contoured and re-laid using the old Dunluce 17th green.

Here are some pictures of the recent work ;

Work still to be completed include greenside bunker on Dunluce 14th, 2x greenside on Valley 15th and some removal of bushes.

New steps to new tees on Dunluce and the Valley.

Completion of new drinking fountains and completion of spectator villages before road surfaces are finished with tarmac.

Works on the new roads are likely to be complete for May but all sections within the course will be done first.