Course Update

Upon conducting soil tests throughout the year, we’ve observed that the organic matter levels
in our putting surfaces are significantly higher than the optimal levels. Neglecting this issue
now may result in substantial challenges in the near future and serious loss of quality in the
playing surfaces. The condition of the 17th Green, prior to its remedial work Spring 2023,
serves as a cautionary example of the potential outcomes if we don’t address these elevated
levels of organic matter promptly (Seen Below).

Core taken from a Green

Our Course Superintendent, Andrew Spelman, in collaboration with Agronomist Eddie
Connaughton, has devised a strategic plan to keep organic matter at an optimum level. The
aim is to diminish this ensuring that we can consistently present firm, smooth greens for the
foreseeable future.

A pivotal greenkeeping practice, scheduled for July 4 th , is the hollow coring of greens. This is
where cores of soil are removed from the green and replaced with fresh sand. Some golf
clubs’ schedule their coring for early Spring, while this is a relatively quiet period for golf it
also has many drawbacks i.e. much longer period of recovery (6 to 8 weeks), high likelihood

of fungal disease occurring/ scarring greens surfaces and also the weather hampering the
coring and sanding process itself. While this method is vital to resolving the present issue, it
will temporarily disrupt the playing experience for our members. As a result, the surfaces
might feel slower and bumpier for a brief period. The greens will be bumpy for the first 7
days but will see a full recovery at this time of year within two weeks.

Greens after cores have been pulled

Greens with sand profile inserted post coring

Recovery after 1 week

Recovery after 2 weeks

The reasons for coring are mainly to reduce the organic matter levels, but there
are other benefits as seen below:

  1. Soil Compaction Relief
    High foot traffic, mowing, and the natural settling of soil particles can lead to soil
    compaction. Compacted soil reduces the space available for air and water, making it difficult
    for grass roots to grow deeply and access necessary nutrients. This can also lead to a black
    layer being formed in the soil which stops root development and starves the plant of Oxygen.
    Hollow coring helps relieve this compaction by removing small plugs of soil, allowing the
    ground to breathe, and making space for root expansion.
  2. Thatch Reduction
    Thatch is a layer of organic matter, including dead grass and roots, that can accumulate on
    the soil surface. While a small amount of thatch can be beneficial, providing insulation
    against temperature fluctuations, too much can impede water infiltration, reduce air
    circulation, and harbour pests and diseases. Hollow coring helps to manage thatch levels by
    breaking through this layer and encouraging its decomposition.
  3. Improved Water and Nutrient Penetration
    By creating channels in the soil, hollow coring enhances the movement of water, nutrients,
    and air into the root zone. This promotes deeper root growth, ensuring grass has a robust
    support system, especially during times of stress like droughts or extreme temperatures.
  4. Surface Levelling
    Over time, greens can develop minor inconsistencies and undulations. Hollow coring,
    followed by top-dressing (adding a thin layer of sand or soil mix), can help smooth out the

surface. This ensures a more consistent roll for golf balls, which is crucial for the precision
required in putting.

  1. Disease and Pest Control
    A healthier green is more resistant to diseases and pests. By improving the turf’s overall
    health and vigor, hollow coring can make the grass less susceptible to various diseases and
    pest infestations. There are impending bans being discussed at EU level, which could
    potentially see the use of fungicides and pesticides, which are used to contain and manage
    disease.
  2. Over-seeding Opportunities
    The holes created by hollow coring offer an excellent opportunity for over-seeding.
    Introducing new grass seeds into these holes can rejuvenate the green, promoting the growth
    of newer, more disease-resistant grass varieties. With the impending bans on fungicides and
    pesticides, the Club will be trying to encourage the germination of Bent Grass which is a
    more disease tolerant species compared to the predominant species in Woodbrook which is
    Poa Annua which is extremely susceptible to diseases which have traditionally been
    controlled by fungicides and pesticides.

We recognise that every member aspires to play on flawless putting surfaces throughout the
year. However, maintaining such perfection year-round isn’t sustainable in the long run
without invasive practices like coring which are crucial for safeguarding the long-term health
and playing condition of our greens.
We sincerely appreciate our members’ understanding and support in this endeavour.

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