A few photos from the Europro, held over our historic Links between the 5th -7th July. Weather on the whole was very good apart from some heavy showers during the first day of play. Many great scores were returned including a course record 61 on the final day, by overall winner Billy Hemstock from Teignmouth.
A postcard produced by Butterfly Conservation Scotland and the Tayside
The east coast of Scotland has scattered colonies of the rare Small blue, the UK's smallest butterfly, while Angus is home to isolated populations of what is a conservation priority species.
Since 2012 the Butterfly Conservation Scotland and the Tayside Biodiversity Partnership have facilitated annual volunteer surveys of both the small blue and the kidney vetch plant on which this butterfly is reliant. Initially a 5 year project, the addition of growing on and planting Kidney vetch in key sites means the project has been extended for another 5 years.
Although Montrose Golf Links wasn't part of the survey sites and numbers of Kidney vetch are currently unknown the habitat is very much in keeping with those favoured by the Small blue.
Having recently spoken with Kelly- Ann Dempsey ( project officer / environmental strategy for Angus Council ) regarding the Small blue she said she would be happy to come to the links with a view to planting some of their pot grown Kidney vetch.
Last week we planted 12 of the pot grown plants in an area that we felt was suitable and hopefully they will survive and establish themselves. If this trial is successful we may also be considered for any further plantings that take place in the future.
Kelly-Ann helping plant one of the pot grown kidney vetch.
One of the plants in its new home.
Once the Kidney vetch were all planted out we had a look around the nearby area and were pleased to find a good number of the plants already happily growing in the surrounding dune land.
An established plant that we found on site.
Another healthy looking kidney vetch plant growing happily on the links.
Having a good population of Kidney vetch already established on the links means that we have the correct habitat for the small blue and with a bit of luck it will attract them into the area.The plant should come into flower through May.
The butterfly is active from the end of May til the end of June and sometimes again in August. With a wingspan of only 22mm it is one of our smallest butterflies. From above the female is brown and the male smokey blue. The underside of the wings are silver-grey with some tiny black dots.
If anyone thinks they may have spotted a small blue on the golf courses over the next few months could you please fill in one of the postcards that can be picked up from the MGLL office foyer or contact the Tayside Biodiversity Partnership (www.taysidebiodiversity.co.uk ).
One of the many stunning sunrises that we witnessed over the winter.
For those golfers who have played throughout the winter many will have seen first hand the work that has been carried out over the courses. However as the new golf season gets underway many others will be getting back out on the courses for the first time.
We have undertaken aeration to all areas of the courses. We have also carried out the usual bunker construction work (15 rebuilt between the Medal and Broomfield ). The realignment of the 18th Broomfield hole which involved re-contouring the fairway, adding 2 bunkers and constructing a new tee. Major gorse clearance work between the 2nd / 17th Medal fairways has been completed. Other areas of gorse have also been removed around the courses which will improve sight lines and should help speed up play.
A few of the other projects that we have undertaken can be seen below.
A quantity of astro-turf was acquired from Montrose FC, which was used to replace some of the old tennis court material paths. The walled area adjacent to the pro shop has also been cleared of gravel and astroturf laid.
Starting to remove the old astro-turf from the 1st Broomfield path.
The newly installed path.
The 1st Medal path before replacement.
A much improved look to the path.
The walled gravel area.
Erosion and the irrigation system
Unfortunately erosion has continued to be a problem at the 1st green /2nd tee area. The path has now eroded and fallen away. Major pipework for the irrigation system was also exposed along part of the path. It was important to realign a 90 metre section of the pipe and electric cable away from the dune edge to ensure that the system could remain functional this coming year.
Path leading towards the 2nd Medal Fairway showing the erosion.
Exposed pipe and cable work on the eroded dune face.
Digging out the irrigation pipe and cable.
Digging out a new route further away from the dune edge.
Pitch and Putt
As part of on-going improvements to the pitch and putt we have tidied up the trees and cut back the deep rough to the left of the 9th hole. We have also filled in one of the bunkers and revetted the remaining 4. These bunkers were badly in need of improvement and it also gave our apprentice Jamie a chance to build the bunkers on his own, under the guidance of a senior member of the green-staff, As time allows we will continue to improve the condition of this course.
One of the bunkers before refurbishment.
Digging out another of the old bunkers.
Revetted and ready to be turfed.
A couple of new pieces of green-keeping kit has been been purchased over the last few months. A machinery lift has been installed in the main shed which will help in the servicing of the machinery and will do away with the unstable car ramps that had been previously used. A replacement van has also been acquired to replace the old van which had a number of faults that were not cost effective to repair.
Sean with the new machinery Lift.
I hope this gives an insight into some of the work that has taken place over the winter months. Hopefully we will get a good warm Spring and everyone can get out and enjoy the 3 courses.
During a day of heavy rain Paul and myself constructed a number of nest boxes. We used scrap wood and old pallets that we had lying around the sheds to build 6 Tit, 2 open fronted and 2 Kestrel / Owl boxes. Natural nest sites for many birds, especially members of the the Tit family are very limited on the links so hopefully this will help promote and enhance the bird life around the 2 courses.
A few of the newly built boxes.
The Kestrel box prior to staining.
Once built all the boxes were stained to ensure that they would last longer and blend in better with their surroundings.
The week following on from Valentines day has for a number of years been national nest box week. Organised by the British Trust for Ornithology it encourages everyone to try and help bird life by erecting artificial nest boxes. Many birds are struggling, with numerous species declining rapidly in numbers. Hopefully the small measures that we are taking will go some way in helping.
Ricky erecting one of the Tit boxes in a willow tree during national nest box week.
A Tit box on one of the pines growing on the Broomfield course.
One of the open fronted nest boxes
A larger box on the gable end of the old cottage (Greenkeepers sheds ).
Hopefully a few of the boxes will get used this coming season, we have already seen Blue and Coal Tits entering a few of the boxes and there is a fair chance that they are using them to roost in during the cold winter nights.
This just one of a number of minimal cost ecology initiatives that we plan to carry out over the next few years. Although our main aim is to maintain and present the courses to their best, I believe that both golf and wildlife can work hand in hand. I have no doubt that this can be achieved and very much enhanced by giving nature a helping hand. Hopefully everyone that uses the golf courses, be it season ticket holders, visitors etc, can gain as much pleasure as I do from the abundance of flora and fauna that can be seen all over the Links.
This week we started gorse clearance work between the 2nd and 17th Medal holes, to the left of the 5th Medal path and behind the 16th Medal green.
The work undertaken makes up part of our long term management plan that MGLL together with the Sports Turf Research Institute have recently drawn up.
A number of points were taken into account when producing the plan including the age and health of the gorse together with strategic and aesthetic factors. The ecology and wildlife habitat was also given major consideration which should ensure that both wildlife and golf can benefit from the work that is due to be carried out over the long term.
Below is a brief description of the work carried out between the 2nd and 17th fairways.
An early start for the contractor.
A contractor was brought on site to clear the larger areas of gorse. A large flail attachment was fitted to the front of the tractor which was then driven through the areas that we had already marked out.
Cutting through the first section between the 2nd and 17th fairways.
Six sections in total were cut out between the 2nd and 17th, which amounts to roughly 30% of the total gorse along that strip. In a few years when these cut out sections recover and new growth has developed then further sections will be removed again amounting to 30%. The remaining sections will be cut out a few years after that. Undertaking the work in this manner will also ensure that the penal nature of this hole will remain intact.
One of the sections after removal.
After the tractor mounted flail had cut out the gorse the areas then had to be tidied using a chainsaw and by manual raking. By removing the majority of the debris and leaf litter the buried gorse seed bank within the soil should be exposed and in turn aid seed germination.
A view looking across the 17th fairway after completion.
The sections were cut out at a slight angle oblique to play to ensure that there was minimal visual impact for golfers playing the 2nd and 17th holes.
Looking up the 17th fairway from the tee.
As this picture demonstrates, because of the angle the sections were cut out there is very little noticeable difference when playing the hole. It is only as you approach each cut out section that they become visible.
In conjunction with our course architect plans were drawn up to minimize the risk of golf balls hitting adjoining properties of which there had been a number of instances. This consisted of making the hole a dog-leg, with the fairway moving slightly to the right. This should result in players having to hit their tee shots further away from the course boundary. Mounding, 2 bunkers and a long hollow also made up part of the plan. The existing 18th tee will also be moved slightly to the left of its current location.
the view from the fairway prior to work commencing.
Russell Talley our architect marking out the position of the new bunkers.
Work started on Monday 9th November. The first task was to cut and lift the turf from the main work area. We stacked the turf on pallets and then moved them to the side using forks on the loader of our Kubota tractor.
Starting to lift the turf.
Moving the pallets of turf.
Some of the stacked pallets of turf.
All the turf removed.
We then had to remove all of the topsoil. The soil only amounted to roughly 4 - 6 inches in depth, so to make this task easier we used a tractor mounted rotavator to loosen it first, we then moved it using our front loader and stock piled the soil in one corner for re-use later.
Rotavating the work area.
Stockpiling the topsoil.
Once this was done we then had the job of contouring the sub soil to the desired shape. We created a hollow to the right hand side into which the fairway would later be cut. The subsoil that was removed was then used to form mounding to the left hand side. The highest mound was built to 1 metre above the original ground level which still allows the green surface to be seen from the tee.
Moving subsoil to form the new mounding.
2 new bunkers were then built into the mounding, these were revetted in the usual manner and are positioned at the left edge of what will be the new fairway.
The positions for the 2 new bunkers.
One of the bunkers built.
Once all of the contouring and bunker work had been completed then the stockpiled topsoil was spread out evenly over the entire area. Firming and raking then took place in readiness for re-turfing.
Fertiliser to help with root development was then spread and raked into the soil, then the turf was re-laid.
Laying turf around the 2 bunkers.
Turfing in progress.
Turfing around the bunkers and fairway complete.
The finished bunkers.
The view from the fairway after completion.
Once complete the area was tidied up and we rolled the area with one of our turf irons. When weather conditions allow we will apply a number of topdressings to the fairway area which will help to smooth it out further. All the work to the fairway took 2 weeks to complete from start to finish.
In the Spring when grass growth returns the left hand side of the hole together with the area behind the new bunkers will be allowed to grow into more penal rough. The out of bounds will also be moved over, in line with the hole, which in turn will encourage golfers to aim up the right hand side.