Baildon G.C. hope for better year
By David Markham
Competitive golf is just starting at Baildon with golfers and ground staff hoping for a better year than 2001.
Then the West Yorkshire moor land course was closed for five months for foot and mouth - a restriction that was ended only when the authorities to cull the sheep that graze on the moor.
Head Green keeper Philip Sutton said: "The course was closed from the last day of February to July when the authorities decided to cull the sheep.
We could work on the course while it was closed for golf, but it took us a few weeks to get permission to do that. We were able to do the basics as long as we wore protective suits and we were disinfected when we went on to the course and when we came back off.
We have four staff and we had to lay off two of the lads initially. Once we got into the growing season it was impossible for the two of us to keep on top of the work properly so we got the other two lads back in.
Then, the problem dragged on and in the end the four of us went on short time rather than have to lay staff off again. It was very busy once the golf started again.
I feared the worst when the course was closed because I didn't think we would be able to do any maintenance at all. Once you leave the grass to grow it takes a long time to get it down again. We could have got the tees and fairways open again, but I feared for the greens.
The course is about 800 feet above sea level and the problems I have concern the weather. There is no protection on the moor; no trees, no shade and we have no irrigation for the greens.
The course is fairly well drained as long and as I can keep the soil open I don't have the problems Groundsmen and Green keepers have at a lower level. I am a firm believer in aeration on the greens and tees during the autumn and winter.
It all means the golfers can play 365 days a year unless we have deep snow which is something we haven't had for a long time. I have been here for 12 years and I don't think we have had snow for longer than a fortnight.
We cut the greens and the tees with hand mowers during the winter, using a Lloyds Paladin. I like to cut with hand mowers through the winter because the ground is soft. We have a lot of small tees so we cut them with hand mowers. If there is any softness in the ground you get tyre marks when you use a larger machine. We only trim the greens once a week during the winter, but we cut the greens more frequently in summer using a Toro GM 3200.
We have just bought a new mower for cutting the fairways, Toro Reelmaster 6500. We used to cut them with gang mowers behind a tractor. The new fairway mower gives us a criss-cross effect whereas the tractor mower cuts straight down the fairways. The criss-cross effect looks better and our new machine gives us a far better quality of cut."
After the problems of last year, Philip Sutton has been pleased to experience a largely incident free winter.
He said: "The weather was quite reasonable up to Christmas and we had an extended growing period. The warm weather lasted and the grass didn't stop growing until November, which was a month later than we expected.
We then got some of our winter work finished up to Christmas, a couple of drainage jobs and a new tee to finish off. I didn't mind the rain at the turn of the year because it gave us the chance to do some inside work like renovating machinery and maintenance of equipment.
Then, as we came from February into March we carried out hollow coring on the greens and we followed that up by using a seaweed soil conditioner and top dressing.
The recent fine weather has helped us it has been pleasing to get the hollow coring and top dressing out of the way. You need it fairly dry to work with top dressing."