Greenkeeping diaries: A day in the life of a greenkeeper

March sees greenkeepers putting the finals touches to winter work

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First up is Chris Sheehan of West Derby, Liverpool, who acts as secretary of the North West section for BIGGA and has been a greenkeeper for 34 years…

“The month of March is a very difficult month to plan, because the weather plays a vital role in what can be achieved. At West Derby we will be trying to finish any winter work that remains to give us a good start, preparing the course for the start of the playing season.

This winter we have turffaced six greenside bunkers, meaning we will have turf-faced every greenside bunker on the course in recent years.

We find by doing this the sand remains consistent as we do not get any washdown in periods of heavy rain.

We have re-built two tees and re-aligned them with the fairway. We have a number of housing estates bordering the course, where we have introduced out of bounds and planted pine tress.

This pushed the fairway into more of a dogleg, hence the need to re-align. This winter we have laid approximately 2,000 square metres of turf, along with drainage work, pathways and removal of five huge poplar trees which were casting shade over two of our greens. 

We have thousands of trees on the golf course, some of them planted over a hundred years ago. We were founded in 1896 and over the years these trees, mainly poplar, have been casting shade onto the putting surface and stopping air movement across the greens.

After removing the surrounding trees we found we were getting a much drier and healthier grass sward. The added bonus is that in the winter months, when the sun is low, these greens are now getting the early morning sun and, as a result, are now thawing out quicker after frost.

If the weather is kind during March it will enable us to get spiking done on the greens. Ideally, if it is dry, we will go in with our verti-drain machine. This machine can take a variety of tines and can tine to a depth of 12 inches.

After verti-draining has taken place, we would put a light topdressing of pure sand and try and get as much sand into the tine holes as possible, which will help with drainage and rooting.

March is also a month when disease on the greens can occur, so a careful eye has to be kept for any signs, such as discoloration of leaves. The most common are fusarium and read thread.

To sum up, we will be taking the course out of the winter period and getting prepared for the good weather that should be just around the corner.”

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