Course Review and improvements update
It has been 7 months since I joined Morecambe GC, which, apart from the weather has been really enjoyable. I have meet some lovely people and the rest of the “team” seem to have a passion and real connection with the club.
My initial thoughts regarding prioritising projects and aims was based on my early days. Unfortunately, 2017 was a far from average year weather wise. The total for the year was only slightly above average at 1,017mm. But the year was divided up with the first 6 months having just 259mm and the last 6 months having 758mm! That’s 50% more rainfall than average in 6 months.
This has had a major impact on the management and playability of the course as you can see from the picture on the right.
Winter Work Programme
The original intention this Autumn/Winter was to improve drainage, remove trees, extend tee areas and renovate and improve bunkers. A great deal of drainage work and tree removal has already taken place to great effect, but no tee or bunker work has commenced. Given the vast amount of rainfall received, the priority has now changed to concentrating on the drainage issues and tree removal as these two areas are fatally linked. Our priority is always to keep the course open and playable as long as possible and with the weather patterns that are forecast, removing water from the course is vital.
The drainage and improvements to the valley have had a really positive impact on this major area of the course. Standing water has been greatly reduced and the surfaces are firmer and recover better following heavy rain. The crossing points will also provide a tidier appearance and hopefully reduce wear. Further improvements may be added in future as the ditch is now easy to access.
The drainage work on the 4th fairway has dried out the majority of the problem areas. More work may be needed on this huge area, but a great start has been made.
The carry on the 8th hole has also had it's standing water removed with new piped drains, I know this area has been a problem for many winters and with a small amount of further drainage work, these issues will be fixed.
The tree work is having a real impact on the course drainage and visual impressions. As I said earlier these two are linked as you can see on the photo.
The 1st hole now has a much larger view of the seafront and the trees up the left hand side have been cleaned up to speed up play. This tree removal extends across past the 2nd tee giving over 125 metres of unobstructed views. The area alongside the 2nd green has been cleared of trees and extended round the corner onto the 3rd hole and includes the removal of the gorse.
The views across the bay to Grange are now clear from the 15th green/16th tee. These trees are the reason the left hand side of the 3rd hole is currently unfit for play as the existing drainage is full of roots. The trees between the 4th & 16th holes have been removed as well as the large trees on the left hand side of the 16th hole. These were reducing water movement, damaging the drains and causing shade and leaf litter issues on the green. The green should thaw out quicker and have improved surfaces as a result. These trees have also added to the improved view across the bay. The right hand side of the 17th hole has benefited from the removal of Hawthorn, Privet, Willow and Sycamore. This has left a lone Pine which has been tidied up and should develop into standalone feature.
As you can see from the pictures below, the 16th hole has been transformed with the views across the bay.
The 3rd hole needs urgent attention to improve playability. There has been 100 metres of 100mm pipe and stone installed which outfalls into the pond on the 2nd hole. We hope to extend this work into the left hand side of the 3rd green to return this area for play. Any stumps will be removed and the area will then benefit from attractive mounding being formed and seeded with fine leaved fescues. The outstanding tree stumps around the course will be dug out and the holes repaired including the large two tree stumps in the car park. The trees across the back of the 5th tee will be thinned out and the bottom of the pine trees will be lifted to improve sunlight and air movement. The tee is large but grass cover is thin and weak, this will improve with the work. Dependant on time constraints, the next hole to remove trees is the 12th hole. The turf conditions on this hole have deteriorated badly, with a wet soil profile impacted with worm casts. Any improvement to air movement and sunlight will greatly benefit the surfaces.
Despite the above issues, the course has not suffered many closures and the greens are in great condition, with dry firm surfaces and with the ongoing improvements being made, we hope to increase the playability and condition of the golf course.