Course Manager's Diary

Swipe left or right to view images.

Scroll down for monthly updates from our Course Manager, Joe, and his team here at Baberton GC.

For daily updates from the team on Twitter, click here

The team (L-R):

Matthew Mairs, Joe Loffelmann (CM), Gary White, Frankie Innes, Matthew Symons-Wearne, Bob Marshall (DCM).

April 2024

Sadly, the first part of this report focusses on the recent issues with the weather that we have suffered. Over 100mm of rain fell on the course in March, with 51mm of that falling over the 4 days leading up to our opening day competition. This is deeply frustrating for everyone, none more so than our team of green staff who have work tirelessly to get the course in the best shape possible leading up to opening day.

Since October 2023 we have seen 575.2mm of rain (22.6 inches) across the whole course. We are now at the point the water table is so high that our drains are running at full capacity and the water has nowhere to go. This has set us back in terms of course presentation and getting the course to the level we would like it to be. Taking this into account we have to think logically and so minimising damage to the course from our machinery and golf traffic at the moment has to be our priority to produce the best possible course through the main playing season.

The patience and understanding of all members are hugely appreciated at this time. Better weather will be with us soon.

New bunkers
Our new bunkers are really starting to take shape, they have now all had a final edge and sand applied. The turf is now starting take a strong grip and the rooting structure is getting stronger all the time. As and when all the winter restrictions are lifted, all the bunkers at the 9th, 14thand 15th will come in to play.

While the turf continues to bed in, we kindly request all players to enter the bunkers at the shallowest entrance point and to avoid walking up steep faces. This will allow the turf to fully establish and become more stable.

Please place rakes in the middle of the bunker bases as explained in last week’s Course Manager update.

Tees and aprons refinement
All tees and aprons have been aerated over recent weeks with a subsequent sand dressing of around 40 tonnes of sand.

Lawn sand with nitrogen and iron content was applied to the tees and aprons to help control moss and weeds.

We have since verti-cut both areas to refine and promote better quality grasses, and to tidy up the top surface to reduce organic matter build up.

The tees and aprons have flourished over recent weeks on the back of this work and are looking in great shape for the up-coming season.

14th Apron
Our new 14th apron has had its first cut and recently been fed with an organic based feed. It is establishing well, and we will continue to hand cut this apron until we feel it is ready to be cut with a triple mower.

We are delighted with the overall result at the 14th.

New machinery
We are delighted to take delivery of our new John Deere HPX gator utility from Thomas Sherriff & Co.

We are currently waiting on delivery of our new John Deere Pro Gator and mounted sprayer.

Ongoing investment from the Club into the course and our machinery is important and hugely appreciated.

Additional work carried out
• Sand dressing worn areas
• Pro-coring tees
• 4th tee protection net re-erected after winter damage
• Shaping out fairways
• Flymo work, strimming and cutting tasks
• Rolling greens
• Pro-core area infront of 14th apron to promote recovery from bunker work. Seeded dressed and fed
• Cleared drains
• Edged all bunkers and toped up sand levels where required
• Turfing worst worn areas
• Put slabs in place for new bins to be fitted at 3rd, 6th and 16th tees
• Laid gravel on attenuation pond path
• Blowing debris off fairways and removed from the course
• Trimming back gorse at front wall
• Paul Maxwell removed tree at Baberton House

Last but not least
On behalf of the green staff, a huge thank you to some of our members who give up their own time to support and help our team produce the best possible course. It’s a massive help to our team and makes us so much more productive.

• Divot squad – the divot squad were out in force to help us fill all divots on the fairways. Should any other members be willing to help out, please contact the General Manager.
• Alex Anderson – huge thanks to Alex for all the work he does for Baberton, but specifically all the continued help and support with various tasks around the course and shed areas, it’s greatly appreciated.

March 2024

February has now come and gone with it being another wet, cold and windy month. Over the past 3 months we have had approximately 252mm of rain (9.9 inches) across the whole course. With numbers like this it is very difficult for the course to drain as the water table is so high. In the coming weeks, we will do our best to move as much water as possible through aeration and sand dressing in some of the main playing areas. This will allow us to be in the best shape possible for the start of the season.

Greens Maintenace
With a break in the weather, we had a small window of opportunity to get our greens maintenance completed and it was important that we utilised it.

Step by step through the process
• Verti-cut all greens (tidy up top surface removing any debris and die back encouraging new healthy growth)
• Cored greens with a 10mm tine and removed all cores (helps to reduce organic matter levels for all round plant health)
• Greens cut
• Applied 20 tonnes of pro golf 20 sand dressing (allow greens to be free draining and dilute thatch layer & black layer)
• Worked sand into core holes using our power brush
• Verti-drained all greens with a 12mm solid tine to around a 9-inch depth with a small amount of heave (helps relieve compaction and creates soil fractures at a low-level allowing greens to be free draining and our root structure to continue developing)
• Sand dressed with another 20 tonnes of pro golf 20 dressing and worked in to verti-drain holes (getting sand to low levels will allow them to be free draining and our roots to venture further)

Overseeding is the final part of the above maintenance to be completed, but due to the lingering cooler temperatures this will be delayed until temperatures rise. The team will now concentrate on working on ball roll and trueness - this may take some time as the work has been intensive. On a positive note, we are a week ahead of our original planned schedule thanks to a massive effort by the team.

New Bunkers
All turfing at our new bunkers and 14th apron has now been completed, with over 1000 square meters of turf being laid. A huge amount of preparation and materials have been used to create a nice flowing shape that allows the bunkers and apron to blend in with the surrounding area of the 14th hole.

The following materials were required:
• 40 tonnes of rootzone
• 30 tonnes of type1
• 15 tonnes of old greens cores
• 10 tonnes of pea gravel
• 1050 square meters of turf

Our next step will be getting sand into the new bunkers and tidying up the edges once the turf has started to root. We will apply sand when the weather best suits to minimise damage to the course with tractor and trailer traffic.

Irrigation repairs
We have recently undertaken some repairs to our irrigation tank. The ball float valve was on an unsteady pipe and was causing the ball float to rise too far, resulting in a constant flow of water coming out of the overflow pipe. A new galvanised pipe has been fitted with solid brackets to ensure we don’t have the same problem, along with a new ball float.

Our return valve was also replaced. This piece of equipment is very important for protecting the pump as if there is any build-up of pressure and something were to go wrong with the system on the course, it will return the water back into the tank rather than pressure building up in the pump and worst case blowing the pump which is very costly to replace.

Other work
• 7th fairway bunker face has been lifted and resin installed to make the sand visible from the tee
• New bell has been installed at the 15th
• Staff training on how to install new tines on our Toro pro core and Weidenmann gxi8
• Greens cutting and rolling

Greens Nutrition
• Aquatrols Tough turf winter spray package
• Granular feed applied Rigby Taylor 11-5-5 cold start

Tree in Baberton House
Unfortunately, part of a tree has fallen from our land into Baberton House (see picture above). We are in the process of arranging a date for a tree surgeon attend and carry out the removal as it has some complications.

Apprentice training
Our two Matthews, commonly known as M&M, have been doing Baberton Golf Club proud at college. Matthew Symons-Wearne has completed his second year at college and after review he will be a qualified greenkeeper to SVQ Level 2, he’ll return next year to complete SVQ Level 3. Matthew Mairs has completed his first year of Level 2 and been passing his assessments with flying colours.

A massive well done to them both, they continue to show great dedication and willingness to learn every day and the quality of work they produce at such an early stage of their green-keeping careers is exceptional. Thank you, and well done guys!

Educational visit to Mannheim (John Deere Factory)
I (Joe) have recently visited Germany on an educational visit to Mannheim where John Deere has two factories. This was a great insight into how products are developed. It was amazing to see the fine detail and technology that is used to produce the equipment we require on a daily basis. We also went to the parts distribution centre to see the effort that goes into get us the parts we need as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Etiquette and Respect
Whilst the vast majority of our members, guests and visitors respect the course, the work being undertaken and show good golfing etiquette, we unfortunately continue to see evidence of those who show blatant disregard for all the effort we go to. Unrepaired pitch marks and unraked bunkers continue to be a regular occurrence, and over the winter we’ve had several reports of people out on the course not using fairway mats – which is a mandatory requirement.

Unfortunately, last week (7th March) a player, clearly practising on the course, left 4 divots on the 3rd fairway. Quite frankly, this is unacceptable. With the volume of play our course sees over the winter, fairway mats are a necessity to ensure we can keep the course in as best a condition as possible for the start of the season. Without them it would be impossible for us to protect the course for you, our members. Please respect what we’re trying to do and the arrangements we put in place, such as mats and ropes.

Please also note that going forward bunker rakes will be placed in the middle of bunkers rather than outside of them. Please can all members do the same once you have finished raking a bunker.

February 2024

January was a stormy month! The rain and extreme winds we experienced caused a lot of damage to the course and the resultant tidying tasks and tree cutting added to our already busy winter schedule. Our practice nets buckled with the strength of the winds and are no longer usable. The protection net for the 4th tee was also damaged, with one of the metal posts coming loose. The post has since been concreted back in place, but we still have some repair work on the net to do.

Winter programme progress
We are otherwise progressing well with our winter programme, with bunkers at the 9th, 14th and 15th holes being our main focus. The 9th and 15th hole bunkers have been prepared and turfed with a hardwearing dwarf rye. By mid-February we should also have the 14th hole bunkers and apron shaped up with rootzone and turfed. The apron will have a finer turf (fescue / dwarf rye) for better playability and performance. We will allow the turf time to establish a solid root structure and the final step will be adding sand to the bases.

Progress on other winter programme tasks
• 2nd hole sunken area on fairway has been levelled with cores and rootzone and overseeded (complete)
• Huxley mats on the 1st, 2nd and 7th holes (complete)
• Bunker developments (almost complete)
• Plastic path at pond access road (path put in place, stone type to be selected)
• Removing overgrowth at 6th and 11th holes (complete)
• Slabs to be installed for bins at 3rd, 8th and 16th holes (start after bunker work)
• 7th hole fairway bunker – lift face so it’s visible from the tee (after main bunker work)
• Tree work (will be ongoing between now and start of the season)
• Gorse removal at 18th hole (complete)

As part of our annual machinery refresh programme we decided to go with Thomas Sherriff (John Deere) for our latest equipment replacements. Our 2006 Kawasaki Mule will be replaced with a JD HPX Gator, our sprayer will be replaced with a Gambetti Demount Sprayer, and we will add a JD 4-wheel drive ProGator to our fleet. We will receive the HPX Gator in the coming weeks and the ProGator and sprayer are due end of March/April. Our Toro Workman was purchased in 2005 and has no real trade in value. However, it is still working well so we have decided to keep it and use it for top dressing only. This will create more flexibility for us when top-dressing and allow us to be more efficient and minimise disruption to members. Overall, these changes will enable us to continue to improve the course and maintain it at the highest possible standard.

Greens nutrition and maintenance
On 30th January we applied an Aquatrols Tough turf winter spray package. In the coming weeks we will carry out hollow coring and deep verti-drain on our greens. Following this we will add a heavy dressing of sand over two separate applications. The date for this is weather dependent but a message will go out to all members before the work starts. It’s important to get this done early to allow maximum recovery time ahead of the season starting. Thank you for understanding, and we will try our best to minimise disruption.

January 2024

December was a compete mixed bag of weather. In total we had 105mm of rain across the month and we recorded the most rainfall in one single day (30mm) in the whole of 2023. This has resulted in the course becoming very wet in certain areas and we are starting to see signs of damaged areas just due to the volume of traffic across the usual spots. More ropes have been put out to try and protect the course as much as possible.

Although the weather hasn’t been onside it has still been a very productive month for the team with lots of tasks ongoing.

On the 20th December we started to verti-drain our greens. It is crucial to allow air into our surfaces all year round, as well as keeping moisture off the top surface to try and minimise disease pressure throughout these wet and mild periods. We verti-drained down to a 9inch depth with a 12mm solid tine.

This process has a number of key benefits; it aids root development, relieves compaction, reduces disease pressure, allows air throughout the profile and enables draining.

In addition, a number of nutritional treatments have been applied to the greens to aid them:

• Aquatrols Tough turf winter spray package (11th Dec)
• Medallion Fungicide (11th Dec)
• Rocastem bio stimulant (3rd Jan)

We are now at the stage of applying the rubber resin base to our redeveloped bunkers. This will minimise any stones or soil contaminating the sand in the bunkers. The resin base provides a soft, forgiving base that is free draining. This will minimise washout off the faces of the bunker and also allow the bunker drainage to work more efficiently.

The 9th and 15th fairway bunker bases have been completed. As the process requires dry and frost free conditions it has been very stop start over recent weeks. The 14th greenside bunkers will be done at the earliest opportunity. We will also be working on our levels around the bunkers to start getting a bit more shape to the area.

Machinery servicing
Over the last few weeks, we have started sending our machinery off for their annual servicing. Around half have been completed, with the remainder to be completed through the next few weeks.

Additional work completed
• All tees pro-cored with a half inch solid tine
• All course set up tasks
• Cutting and rolling greens
• Dressing worn areas around the course
• Tractor blowing
• Salting clubhouse area and paths when required
• Shed tidy up

December 2023

Through November we experienced initially wet, and then cold weather, and now wet again into early December. The cold weather was very welcome as these hard frosts aid with reducing the disease pressure on our greens. The damp and mild temperatures are perfect conditions for the fusarium to form and spread – so we hope for more cold spells to prevent more growth. A fungicide was applied on the 7th of November although it was evident over time this did not fully check the disease. We will continue to monitor the conditions and the disease and apply further treatment if necessary.

Our greens have also been sprayed with our tough turf winter spray package that will also help reduce the stress on the turf. The greens have also been procored with a half inch solid tine too move moisture off the top surface and to drain more quickly.

Our team’s main focus has been on our priority winter programme activity, the bunkers at 9, 14 & 15. These are progressing well.


• Removal of large stones and debris
• Creation of a ledge to show the shape on all bunkers and to allow an area for our rubber resin to bind into the bunker face
• All drains tested and piping replaced, washed pea gravel added around the drains
• Hardcore base has been added and compacted

The cold snap had been great for this work as it minimised damage to the course with a lot of tractor trailer work on going.

Irrigation system
We have recently had our irrigation system shut down for the winter. This is standard practice to prevent pipes freezing. Come the spring when we start-up the system again we will have some remedial work to do on the system; including some replacement valves we have identified. This will be planned for February / March when we bring the system back online.

Our team has been reduced to 4/5 staff for most of December with members of the team taking some well-earned holiday time.
Our three apprentices are progressing very well, the winter programme gives them a good opportunity to work on a variety of different tasks that develop and broaden their skillset. We will continue this throughout to make them rounded greenkeepers in all aspects of the role.

Additional work carried out
• Huxley mats installed at 1st, 2nd& 7th holes
• Clearing of leaves from playing areas
• Removal of fallen trees and branches at 6th fairway, 6th green, 7th plantation and 14th greenside
• Salting carpark, clubhouse and paths for member safety
• Green rolling
• Cutting and lining winter greens
• Cutting greens
• Bell installed at 15th hole
• Turf cut line for hedging going in place at the clubhouse