Golf Course news
"It never rains, but it pours” - November 2019
We all know that it feels like it’s been raining a lot recently. John Gubb and the team track rainfall volumes closely as it contributes important data to support the management, preparation and presentation of our courses. In October 2019 we had 92.5mm of rain, which compares to a rolling average for the previous 4 years of just 35mm. That explains why the courses are looking so green at the moment and also why it feels a little soft in places and has caused us to introduce winter rules slightly earlier that we usually do.
For those who are interested in such things, here is a graphic showing monthly rainfall volumes for the last 5 years.
Bedfordshire Golf Club Monthly Rainfall Chart 2015-2019
Our average annual rainfall is 540mm over that period and perhaps surprisingly varies little year on year (the last 4 complete years show 516mm, 588mm, 524mm & 535mm). However the monthly variances are quite dramatic and have a big impact on course management and presentation. October 2019 was the 2nd highest recorded over these 5 years.
Remarkably the heaviest single month of rainfall was in June 2016 at 99mm (perhaps you will remember Kevin Dunbar’s "carry only" Captain’s Day!
Mystery of the Disappearing Divot Bags - October 2019
Firstly, a big Thank You to all those who take full Divot Bags onto the courses to fill and repair divots as you play. This really helps the courses recover more quickly and leaves the Greens' Team more time to complete their other vital work around the Bedfordshire Golf Club complex.
Unfortunately however, most of the Divot Bags we had made and which were in regular use, have now disappeared. We recognise that is largely accidental rather than deliberate - quite possibly many of them are still on golf bags and in car boots! If you have one or more Divot Bags in your car or at home by mistake, COULD YOU PLEASE RETURN THEM A.S.A.P. so that they can be used by others on the course. This will be much appreciated and help maintain the quality of our courses.
Thank you in advance.
Bees and Rabbits On the Course - October 2019
The very dry weather in September brought a new range of wildlife to the fore. There was a sudden influx of miner/mining bees who love burrowing into the faces of many of our bunkers. These bees are harmless and do not sting! The arrival of rain means that these bees should soon disappear, but they will, undoubtedly, be back next year!
The other sudden increase in numbers is rabbits. Wherever they dig, the greens team repair. Then the rabbits go back and dig again! The holes/areas are often netted but the rabbits just dig next to the netting! We are trying to deter them!
How can you help to protect/improve YOUR course?
If you see rabbit ‘digs’ and there is spoil at the side use your shoe to refill the hole please.
Try to repair at least one pitch mark on every green.
Replace divots and use a divot bag to fill other people’s divots.
Always rake bunkers carefully every time you go in one. (No-one likes to land in a footprint!)
New Toro Sprayer Helps to Deliver Immediate On Course Improvements - May 2019
Members will have noticed what almost feels like a transformation in the presentation and playability of the courses over the last couple of weeks. The well timed course treatments, immediately followed by rain has delivered significant growth and the Greens Team is understandably delighted to see such a positive return on their time invested in getting the courses back to the standard we've all come to expect. Coupled with the now excellent consistency and speed of the greens, we can rightly be proud of what we have at Stagsden.
These improvements have been helped in no small part by the arrival of our New Toro 5800 D Multi Pro Sprayer to add to our extensive suite of course management vehicles. This c£45,000 purchase, demonstrates our continuing commitment to ensure that we invest in our course and course management capabilities.
We hope that Members and Visitors alike enjoy the benefits that these investments and improvements will provide throughout the peak golfing season at Bedfordshire Golf Club.
Tree Removal & Teeing Area Improvement Plans - May 2019
We never like removing mature trees from our courses unless we absolutely have to, but unfortunately this week we needed to remove one from the 8th tee. Despite our efforts to reseed and repair the area around the white tees on the 8th hole, the amount of moisture being removed from the ground by the large cherry tree there made it impossible to maintain the area at the standard required. The tree was also too large to be transferred to another location on the course, which would have been our preferred option. Sadly therefore, the Greenkeepers have had to remove the tree in order to begin a longer term improvement programme.
The increasingly bare areas near the white tees on the 8th
The Cherry tree (to the left of photo) which was removed this week
There is though hopefully some good news to follow from this story as the Management Board is now considering the funding required for a 'Tiger Mulch' rubber based path, to run from near the 7th green all the way along the side of the 8th tee, joining up with the existing path in front of the tees. This would ensure that the walkway along the whole 8th hole teeing area looks much tidier than it does currently and provide a much improved surface for golfers to walk when playing this hole. We hope to have more news on this in the coming months.
Be Aware, 'Irritant' Caterpillars Found On The Course - May 19
Many of us who have played golf in the Mediterranean will have come across caterpillars on the courses and the associated messages to stay clear of them, as they can cause irritation and rashes due the tiny hairs they shed which can easily get trapped in the skin.
We don't often hear the same messages back at home, but similar species of caterpillars are frequently to be found in Southern England at this time of year. Last week we noticed some caterpillar nests on some of our young oak trees. Having taken some photos, we had the caterpillars identified as those of the brown tail moth.
We have many nests in various areas on the course, all on oak trees. The caterpillars are dark brown, very hairy, with two orange/red dots on their back end and a while stripe down the side.
Brown Tail Moth Caterpillars Around Their nest
If you see these caterpillars do not handle them!
Their hairs will give people and dogs an urticarious rash (like nettle rash).
These caterpillars are not a protected species and we do not want them to de-leaf our trees so, if they are still active around the nests, we plan to remove the nests and destroy them.
In future years we have been advised to look for the nests in the autumn and destroy them before the caterpillars hatch. This information is from the Butterfly and Moth Conservation Organisation.
An Important Safety Reminder to All Members - April 2019
We have recently been made aware of 2 separate incidents where golfers have played shots into greens while members of our greenskeeping team have been working on or around that green.
This is not acceptable and the safety of our staff and indeed all other golfers is of paramount importance at all times. Our policy as regards greenskeepers working on the course is as follows:
• At all times, greenskeepers have priority and members should not play if they are working ahead of them and in range.
• Where greenskeepers are undertaking a task that will be completed quickly (a couple of minutes or so), they will finish what they are doing and then get out of the way.
• Where greenskeepers are engaged in something that will take longer, they will step aside and wave to invite members to play and this means that they watch and will be aware of any balls heading in their direction.
Please adhere to this policy at all times.
The Management Board and General Committee
23rd April 2019
Course Maintenance & Conditions Update - April 2019
We will all recall just how stressed the course became through the drought last summer and we are therefore very pleased that early spring 2019 has brought some favourable conditions. This has allowed John and the team to apply a range of treatments and the recovery appears well on the way. However, a recent dry spell combined with low temperatures and overnight frosts have created hard and bouncy conditions, so as soon as we get some warmth and some moisture, fertilizer will be applied to ensure excellent playing conditions for the peak season (applying fertilizer in cool & dry conditions serves no purpose).
There are some patches on our fairways which require remedial work and the Management Board have recently invested in a Sissis Rotarake 600HD (see below), a top of the range scarifier. It has been used on the weak areas on the 18th fairway which have then been overseeded. It has also been used to scarify the tees on the 9 hole course. This new investment is already proving to be a great addition to the course maintenance armory.
Our new Sissis Rotarake 600HD top range Scarifier in action recently
Our greens are due their spring rejuvenation and this will commence on Mon 29th April.
The greens will all be verti-cut, hollow-cored, over-seeded and then be finished with a heavy top dressing which will then be brushed in.
As usual, players will experience moderate sandy conditions for a week or so, but we will quickly see the benefits.
Greens Renovation Taking Place
Stagsden Course Tree Replacement Programme Starts - February 2019
As reported before Christmas, we will need to remove a significant number of Ash trees on the courses over time due to 'Ash die-back'. Other golf clubs are taking differing courses of action, ranging from doing nothing (very risky), to removing all Ash stock immediately (pretty drastic)! We have taken a more measured approach, removing diseased trees where we see them, and planning a long-term tree replacement programme to ensure the shape and beauty of our courses are maintained.
We are very fortunate to have a healthy stock of mature trees of other varieties to replace Ash trees in important locations. This week some of you may have noticed that work began on moving some of our more mature trees to areas on the eleventh hole. The work has been carried out by Todds Nurseries, one of the country’s foremost tree specialists, who have been ably assisted by our green staff .
Work began on Monday but unfortunately the tree spade and tractor unit were too big for the job and caused some damage to the course on holes one, nine and eleven. There was always going to be short term damage when you have large machinery moving trees that are up to 35 feet high but the damage caused early in the process was significant and we had to call a halt, whilst a smaller spade and tractor unit were brought in. Work reconvened using smaller unit with much more success.
In all we have so far moved twelve trees from various parts of our estate, most notably from the copse to the right of the first hole. These include Field Maple, Birch, Oak and Hornbeam, siting the Birch and a Hornbeam on the right-hand mound on hole eleven and an Oak and a Field Maple on the left-hand mound, further Oak, Hornbeam and Field Maple have been added to the existing row of Ash and Cherry on the left of eleven. We have a significant number of diseased Ash in this area already which will be lost completely over the next couple of years, so there was a need to replace them and given that we have hundreds of mature trees on site it made sense to utilise them instead of planting saplings.
The tree removal machine in action
Our Chairman by a very large hole!
Replanting a tree
A magnificent specimen in its new home
We plan to replicate this exercise many times over the coming years, to both maintain and enhance our fantastic golf courses. We hope you enjoy the new trees between the 11th and 12th holes and with a little hard work from our excellent green staff over the coming days we will see any damage repaired and our course back to normal.
2nd Hole Pond Rescue Programme - January 2019
Anyone playing the course this week, will have noticed some rather dramatic changes to the pond on the 2nd hole of the Stagsden Course.
This pond has, over the years, become very overgrown with reeds and also historic tree growth which has subsequently died. Over time it has become stagnant through lack of sunlight and also lack of movement of air.
It was decided that, rather than simply pull up the dead reeds as usual, a radical programme to completely remove all the dead wood from the surrounding trees should take place, in addition to removal of the overgrown reeds to clear the pond.
Whilst only dead wood was removed, it has made a quite dramatic change to the look of the pond which, it is recognised, will take time to recover. The remaining tree trunks will however sprout new growth over the coming months, producing a much more attractive and healthy pond in which nature can thrive.
The pond on the 2nd following the Rescue Programme
We realise that the effect of the 'Hazard', albeit out-of-bounds, has been somewhat diminished in the short term and that this may tempt a few more of you to go for the big hit off the tee, but over time the tree canopy will return to provide the 'Hazard' that we have got so used to over the years.
Gator Emerges From Pond at the 15th!
It's amazing what you sometimes find at the bottom of a pond but this week's discovery at the 15th hole of Stagsden Course turned out to be very 'Deere' to our Greens' Team.
What started as a simple job of strimming round the lake on the 15th to remove last year's reeds, nearly turned to disaster as the John Deere, Gator course maintenance vehicle, in which the green keeper had arrived, decided that it wasn't happy to be left to its own devices whilst parked up.
As one of the green's team worked away by the water, he caught sight of his vehicle slipping gracefully down the grassy slope and into the pond, before disappearing completely below the surface!
So, the combined resources of the Greens' Team and even members of the Management Team put their brains together to decide how best to recover it. Water was pumped out and several attempts made to reach the vehicle, but all failed so, more drastic action was clearly needed.
The Bedford Sub Aqua Club were called to attach a line to the still submerged vehicle in order to effect its recovery.
Dragging the Gator from the pond!
Using their full diving equipment, the Aqua Club divers went down into the murky depths to connect a rope.
Then began the slow and very muddy process of towing it back out or the water without making too much mess around the pond in the process.
We're pleased to report that they were successful and the two expert divers can be seen below with their haul.
The Bedford Sub Aqua Divers with Their Haul
The sodden and rather sorry looking vehicle vehicle was left overnight to drain and then Dean Butterworth, our very talented Deputy Course Manager, set to work.
As many at the Club know Dean's mechanical skills and ability to get the most out of machinery are phenomenal. Amazingly by 11am the vehicle was running and by 2pm John Gubb was out driving it again!!
The Offending Vehicle - Looking Remarkably Clean!
New £48,000 Rough Mower for Bedfordshire Golf Club - Nov 18
As part of our courses investment programme, we're pleased to advise members that we have taken delivery of a new Toro 4100D Groundsmaster Rough mower. This will update our course management equipment with the latest technology. Our previous rough mower had served the club loyally for 13 years, but with 27 holes to to keep neat & tidy it needed to be replaced.
Members will recall that when subs renewals were issued in August, we explained that increases applied we partly driven by the need to invest in new equipment and this arrival in the first demonstration of us following through on that plan.
You will see our new mower on the courses very soon
We Will Remember Them - 1918-2018
On Sunday 11th November 2018 this country and many others will commemorate 100 years since the end of World War I - Armistice Day, when the guns fell silent on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
Beacons will be lit across the country as we remember the many lives sacrificed in the name of our freedom.
Bedfordshire Golf Club has purchased a memorial flag to mark this event and to remember those who perished in "The Great War" 1914-1918.
The 'Poppy' flag will be flown on the 18th Green with immediate effect and throughout November as our mark of respect.
18 Hole Stagsden Course Rating & Course Measurement - Thursday 27th Sept
There are two events will be taking place tomorrow (Thursday) which members may wish to be aware of:
A Course Rating process, involving an inspection of each hole on a pre-determined set of criteria which will result in the course being given a “Slope” rating. This is part of a world-wide agreed formula for comparing the difficulty of golf courses. It means that when you go to an overseas course you will be able to compare that to your home club and adjust your handicap appropriately to provide a level playing field between players from different clubs. This will also be implemented into a world-wide handicap system for each player with a recognised handicap.
Course Measurement Certificate, which needs to be completed by an outside organisation. This needs to be renewed every 10 years, hence being done on the same day to minimise any disruption to play.
There will be minimal impact on members playing the Course, other than to be aware of officials in buggies and the 1st Tee being closed from 9.30am to 10.00am to allow the Rating process to begin.
Temporary Implementation of Winter Rules
Due to the effects on the courses of the long summer drought, Winter Rules are Temporarily in Operation with immediate effect. This will protect the courses whilst they recover as we (hopefully) get some more rain, and ensure that you don't need to play your ball off a bare or damaged lie on the fairway.
Therefore until further notice, Pick, Clean & Replace Your Ball in any Closely Mown Area Through the Green.
The Competitions Committee
Planned Greens Renovation Work - Alterations Due to Weather Conditions
Due to the extreme hot weather we have experienced over the past two months coupled with the lack of rainfall, we feel it necessary to alter our greens renovation procedure for August, due to take place w/c 6th August.
We still intend to carry out solid-tining, verti-cutting and overseeding the greens as usual and finish with a much lighter topdressing, but we do not now plan to undertake the much more invasive hollow coring and heavy topdressing operations we would normally do at this time of the year.
The added stress to the greens would make trying to return them to the normal high standards we expect here at the club in August much more difficult, and potentially expensive, due to the significant volume of water required to do this.
The Greens Team
Temporary On-Course Smoking Ban - A Reminder
Members are reminded that a temporary on-course smoking ban exists on both courses until more normal British summer weather conditions return. The fairways and grasses surrounding them are tinder dry and we do not want to have to deal with an outbreak of fire from a carelessly disposed of cigarette. Please ensure that this ban is complied with.
The Interim Management Team
WINTER RULES NO LONGER IN OPERATION
Now that the weather has finally improved and the courses have dried out nicely, the need to pick, clean and place a ball on the fairway is no longer deemed necessary.
Winter Rules therefore No Longer Apply.
Therefore until further notice, play your ball as it lies on the fairway and around (through) the green.
The Competitions Committee
We Need Your Help with the Clubhouse Gardens
We all enjoy playing a beautifully manicured golf course, but do you also enjoy the beauty and colour of a neatly maintained garden? One or our best loved past-members Keith Turner did, and over the last couple of decades he spent many hours planting bulbs and shrubs and maintaining our flower beds and borders, making the place look lovely for everyone's benefit. Sadly, after a long illness, Keith passed away earlier this year and we are now looking for others to maintain the fantastic tradition which Keith kept going for so long.
We are delighted that Neil Houghton has already stepped forward and taken on the maintenance of the floral displays in the stone sign at the entrance to the club premises and also the pots at the entrance to the clubhouse, so we now just need support with gardens around the clubhouse.
Would you be prepared to provide an hour or two every so often to help as part of a team to maintain these? If so, we would love to hear from you.
Please call Lynne in the club office on 01234 822555 ext 2, or just pop in and let her know how you can help.
We're out there working hard so please bear with us
Your greens team are working as hard as possible to get the courses back to the standard we've all come to expect at Stagsden, but the huge volume of rain we have received over recent weeks has made it impossible to get the mowers onto the course without doing significant damage.
This week, we have started mowing the fairways and first/second cuts again to begin creating some definition. This cannot all be done with one cut, but over the coning week or so, assuming we don't receive any more deluges, you should expect to see significant improvements to the playability and presentation of both courses.
Trolleys with winter wheels are usable again from today (Wednesday) so we hope you can all start enjoying you golf again.
Otter Spotted by Eagle Eyed Hilary
One of our Lady Members, Hilary Denny had a fantastic encounter with one of our country's most elusive animals, the Otter. She noticed a line of bubbles moving slowly along the surface of the water in the pond next to the 14th. At first she thought it was a Carp but then all of a sudden the Otter surfaced much to the surprise of everyone. It looked around and then gracefully dived and disappeared.
Otters are notoriously shy and very difficult to see as they are mostly nocturnal and to get this close is really rare. They can be found all along the River Ouse and I would imagine with all the bad weather we have experienced, the Otter has had to increase its range to try and find some food. It would have been able to travel from the river to our golf course via ditches and the surrounding wooded areas.
If there were any of Andy Howe's Koi carp left in the ponds, then they may be depleted now, if not they will be very nervous!!
On-Course Mature Trees Maintenance Programme
Bedfordshire Golf Club is now into year 2 of a 5 year mature tree maintenance programme, carried out by a specialist contractor. This is our second programme of work since being at Stagsden, our first being in 2003 soon after John Gubb joined us.
Our year 2 tree work in 2018 will take place on 31st January and both 1st & 6th February.
The work involves the contractors climbing into the trees and thinning out all the dead or diseased branches, which helps preserve the more mature specimens around the courses and also make them safe for members of the public and golfers who use the golf courses.
Once the work has been completed by the contractors the greens staff will clear all the debris left behind. This allows our budget to go further as some of the team have chainsaw certificates and we can dispose of any wood on site.
Members are reminded to be aware of the contractors on this date and to avoid where golf balls coming in close contact with them.
The Oak by the 1st tee which had some safety work done last year
We're pleased to say that Bedfordshire Golf Club has remained open for business throughout the last few days, when we've seen significant amounts of snow and freezing temperatures. The Clubhouse, Pro-Shop and Driving Range are all open. Technically, so are the courses - that's of course if you like an adventurous round of golf!!
Our intrepid reporter has been out to experience the conditions and has captured some of the scenes around our 18 Hole Stagsden Course -
see the photos below...or click here to see a short photo montage of the course during the snow (not suitable for download speeds below 1Mbps):
Clubhouse from the 18th
Click on this text to edit it.
1st Tees and fairway from balcony
14th fairway from 15th tees
15th bunker, green & lake!
17th tees and fairway
Latest Golf Course Improvements - New 'Tiger Mulch' paths completed and in use
The latest tranche of course improvements in the form of new pathways on the Stagsden Course has now been completed. Members and visitors alike have already provided very positive feedback.
As with the ones previously completed between the 1st green/2nd tees and 17th green/18th tees, these new 'Tiger Mulch' rubber based surfaces will provide a significant improvement to both the look and feel as golfers walk between holes. The surfaces are long lasting and virtually maintenance free which means the Greens Team can concentrate on maintaining the courses, rather than spending time on repairing paths.
These latest works are from the 2nd green to 3rd tee and along the 3rd tees. The next section is between the 3rd green to the base of the slope by the 4th tees. A completely new path has then been created all along the 4th tees, providing a much improved surface, which golfers will benefit from especially during the wetter winter months when the area to the right of the ladies tee has often become rather 'boggy'.
We encourage all members and visitors alike to make full use of the new paths and to avoid taking trolleys and buggies on the grass areas next to them to protect the grass during the winter period.
These improvements close off the paths project for the foreseeable future, but once again show significant re-investment in our facilities (in this case around £15,000) and another positive step forward for the club, which as part of our wider goal, raises the standard in everything at Bedfordshire Golf Club.
New path on the 3rd Tees
New path on the 4th
Greens Renovation...an update following this week's deluge...
Last week, we asked Members to be patient & understanding because some areas of the course may get missed whilst the essential renovations take place. The one thing you can guarantee about the British Summer…is that you can’t rely on it!!
This means that unfortunately, with Monday night's torrential rain, heavy rain most of Tuesday and Wednesday being a total washout, it does mean that they are behind schedule in getting all the holes cut out and filling with sand.
John Gubb claims that this is the first time in the 17 years he’s worked here that it’s been a washout during renovations week – but, they were at least able to get out & mow instead…so the bits they were worrying about HAVE been done – they just haven’t quite managed to complete the tining, which they are now hoping to get done on Thursday, so it will be all hands to the pump to get things completed before the weekend!
Thank you for your ongoing patience & understanding!
Greens Renovation - why do it?
Hollow coring/greens renovation takes place twice a year at Bedfordshire Golf Club. We appreciate that it can be frustrating to play on uneven and sandy surfaces, even for a short while, but the hollow coring of greens, tees and even fairways is an essential part of most golf course maintenance programmes. It’s a recognised and proven technique carried out every year at most UK golf clubs and is so important in providing top quality greens during the summer months.
What is hollow coring?
It’s the physical removal of cores of turf from a playing surface. The holes are generally 13-16mm in diameter and of varying depths depending on the reason for the tine. The cores are ejected, swept up and removed. When completed, a smaller mass of soil will occupy the same area of green/tee/fairway.
Why is it done?
Course traffic causes the ground to become compacted and hardened. This means drainage is less efficient and the grass’s roots are prevented from absorbing oxygen. Hollow coring allows the compacted turf to expand and air and moisture to be more easily absorbed.
Secondly, hollow coring helps address the problem of thatch. (Thatch is a layer of grass stems, roots, and debris that settle and accumulate over time.) A thin layer is acceptable but too much thatch will hold water like a sponge.
Finally, hollow coring removes accumulated fibre in the grass’s root zone. It exchanges a poor soil for a better one through top dressing. That’s why the greens are normally covered in sandy top dressing immediately after they’re cored.
When is it done?
Hollow coring is generally done outside of the main playing season: often in the spring and autumn. It’s important that the hollow coring is completed when the weather is not cold and wet, so there’s time for growth and for the holes to seal up.
The best time to hollow core is during the summer months as there will be a quicker recovery, but this coincides with the prime playing season so we try to avoid doing it during this period to minimise the impact on your golfing time. It’s a difficult balancing act for green keepers, but it must be done at some point during the year and ultimately is for the benefit of the golf course and all who play on it.
Is it a treatment for diseased greens?
It’s generally accepted that drier surfaces will be less susceptible to diseases like fusarium. As hollow coring is a good way of improving drainage it’s also a way of preventing the spread of disease.
I hope that this information explains the importance of hollow coring and why we carry out this process. The greens team appreciates your co-operation during this time and we can ensure all members that the golf course, and most importantly you as members, will see the benefits of this work during the summer’s months.
New £34,000 Greens Mower for Bedfordshire Golf Club
A new Toro 3420 Greensmaster has been purchased to update our range of course management equipment with the latest technology. This machine matches one we purchased two years ago, so that we can now provide uniformity on all our greens.
The Toro 3420 provides us with several benefits over previous mowers as follows:
The 'precision brush' gives a cleaner and more precise cut on all greens, which will provide members with smoother and more even putting surfaces.
All electric motors reduce the risk of hydraulic fluid leakage by 90%
Matches an existing greens mower to provide you with uniformity on all greens
Greens staff familiarity with Toro 3420 means no new training required
Bunker renovation work
Recently, the greens staff have completely renovated two bunkers, front right on number 3 and front left on number 16 (below). The bunkers have had new drainage, a hard core base and a liner fitted (the material used for the liner is similar to the material used on the pathways). The sand will take a little while to bed in and we may experience one or two plugged balls during this time but I am sure we will all benefit from the fantastic job that has been done.
Apart from the improvement in the condition of these two bunkers for play, many man hours will be saved as they were two of the bunkers that suffered most from flooding and flash storms.
Finally, a gentle, but important reminder
To all golfers - we are seeing an increasing number of divots left on the fairways, unrepaired pitch marks on the greens and bunkers left unraked. Clearly this is not the way any of us would wish our golf course to appear and does not show respect for other players!
Please remember - replace divots, repair pitch marks and rake bunkers - this benefits us all.