Weather holds up work at Shipley Golf Club
By David Markham
It has been a busy winter at the picturesque Shipley golf course in the Aire Valley with the construction of a new tee, new bunkers, continued tree planting and new drainage work all taking place.
Frustratingly for course manager Pat Murphy, though, the wet weather has been holding up his plans.
He said: "A new 13th tee is being constructed. The existing tee isn't big enough. It is being extended to 441 square metres to accommodate red and yellow tees.
There was a bunker behind the tee, which is now obsolete because everyone can knock the ball past it so we decided to take it out. New golf equipment - new clubs and new balls - means golfers can hit the ball farther and this has made this bunker redundant.
We decided to take that out and extend the 13th tee backwards. At the same time we planted trees, which gives some protection to the tee. We are also putting in automatic irrigation, but everything is at a standstill because the ground is so wet.
We have some top soil on order for the construction of the new tee, but we can't take delivery because the ground is too wet. Our supplier, Tommy Lannan of Greenland Turf can't get to the top soil because the ground is saturated.
I am hoping to get the new tee in use for the start of the summer season. I just need some dry weather and it will take only about a week and a half to get the job done.
We also have a new main drain. The original stone drain runs through some cottages near the course. We unblocked this drain in the 1970s, but it has become blocked again since then after the owner put in an orchard. So, we have put in a new nine-inch main drain.
We have continued our tree planting programme with the work done by John Nicholson associates. We checked all the trees and replaced those that were not performing properly.
We planted gorse around the 5th tee bank which is good for habitat and the wild life as well as protecting the banking.
We are going to make a smaller bunker at the 17th bunker. The present bunker is too demanding for the players. That work has got to be done properly before the golfing starts.
We have plans to extend the 17th tee but that work has had to be put back until the autumn because of the weather."
The club have bought obtained several items of new equipment in the last year. Among them is a John Deere triple cutter for the surrounds of the greens although Pat stresses 'we cut the greens themselves with a hand cutter. Our present cutting machine was too heavy so the club agreed to buy a new cutter.'
He added: "We have also bought a Tornado leaf blower. We attach it to a tractor and it works by blowing the leaves into lines and then we gather them up with a mechanical sweeper.
We use a hand blower to blow the leaves out of the bunkers and the Tornado blower does the rest. We have also bought a John Deere hand cutter for the greens, a fertilizer and spreader for the fairways and chain saw.
"The land has been extremely wet and this has stopped all the physical work on the course, but the greens have been excellent and the course has been closed on only about three or four occasions during the winter although I have closed certain holes when they have been too wet. I am also getting a new shed, but it is subject to planning permission. At the moment we are working in containers."
Pat has been troubled by small patches fusarium on the greens. Persistent efforts to get rid of the disease have failed and he says: "We have tried every known fungicide on the market and there is still no cure. Experts say it could be a new strain of fusarium."