Friday, 6 July 2012

The Week that was...

No cycling for myself for at least another week with a recovering chest virus and a sensitive sore toe. Protected in a steel toe cap work boot its no probs going to work, but do not fancy stubbing a toe while out cycling. So here is a post on the last week at work, during a crazy week of weather.

June was the wettest since records began in the UK in 1910. twice the average rain fell on already saturated ground. Despite living in the driest county in Scotland the water levels in East Lothian are now very high and after the first week of July it has not improved with heavy rain every day and Sea Harr, and more rain is forecast!.
Makes no difference to most people as they go to work, for myself it has been the longest wettest mowing season i have ever seen in 25 years of Greenkeeping, usually the growth dies back a bit by July and we get a touch of drought, ha ha not a chance so far...

I have NEVER seen so much water and also grass growing , plenty pumping to do... a rare spot of sunshine between the Sea Harr and rain today!..

Great weather for ducks, this one happy to swim in the puddles at our yard...

And these guys. only one chick this year from our resident swans...

And this wee fella i rescued out a hole cup...

It has been a crazy week getting everything mowed and tidied up and reps that have popped by have said of many other Head greenkeepers of parkland Golf Courses are pulling their hair out not managing to keep mowing through the deluge and mowers simply unable to maintain forward movement and keep up with the growth of grass.
Taking the choice last year to swap from a ride on cylinder fairway mower and a ride on semi rough rotary mower to two more powerful than usual (for a Golf Course) 62 HP tractors and tow behind mowers has this year paid off and mowing has been no problem at all.
These are Loydds trailing gangs. 40 year technology  that still works today. You do not get quite the same quality of cut as ride on mowers but at around £15,000 are a third the price. Check out the amount of cuttings!... jungle warfare!...

 Unchanged in design for over 40 years they are British made, wheel driven, low maintenance, and solid in build, you could drive through a stone wall with these things and they would still keep mowing, come to water lying and a ride on mower would spin to a halt, stall, jam cutting cylinders or worst blow a drive motor seal or possibly a hydraulic hose eventually. These just power through...

Some film shot with the Go Pro click on 720p for HD!...

Semi rough mower is a Canadian built Pro Flex 120...

These two machines keep on top of the mowing in all weathers with the guys dry and comfortable in all weather, leaving the summer staff greenkeeper and myself to look after the rest of the mowing. Yep i am out in it too. I do not have much time for Headgreenkeepers/Course Managers who send their guys out in horrendous weather and do not go out themselves, lead from the top...
So how to keep on top of the mowing in horrendous weather?, well 3 pairs of waterproofs a day, Anyone who works out doors and sits on machinery will tell you no waterproof clothing is totally waterproof  except when worn the first few times from new. Even PVC stretch oil skins eventually leak through stitching or they get wet with condensation if it is warm. A change every 2-3 hours is needed, and a cup of tea!.
Viking rubber boots/wellingtons on your feet and  using those disposable blue latex gloves stop your hands drying out emptying grass boxes - wet grass cuttings play havoc with your skin and makes your nails brittle like cement dust does.
25 years ago we had Dutch made cabs on Toro mowers at Gullane and with roll up sides you were cool in summer heat and dry in wet weather. Nowadays cabs are still not made as a standard fitment on 3 wheel ride on mowers*. how backwards is that?!. Considering how many machines are sold it should be a standard extra.
*(German made Mauser cabs are available but make the machines top heavy and have glass doors that are awkward to remove/replace green pins when mowing)

Like most golf courses built in the last 30 years the greens are constructed to US green spec - so they are raised with a sand based rootzone with a gravel drainage layer underneath so usually they do not flood, but getting to them in very wet weather on a slick tyre three wheel ride on mower can be interesting!...

This morning i put the greens mower on its side when it took off down a slope. Collage tells you to hold onto a machine and never jump off. True if in a Tractor cab, i would always jump off a ride on mower with no seat belt if i know its going over, imagine being pinned down by that?... machine was undamaged. dunno how many times this has happened over the years...

Greens are shaved to 4mm or lower in these wet climates, also spiked and rolled, here with a Greens Iron...

Despite the constant downpours, constant change of waterproofs, stench of rotten grass clippings in stagnant pools of water, machines covered in clippings etc.. this weather does has its rewards. For one the days fly in as there is so much to do. Also i love being up on the hill in thick Sea Harr, kinda eerie but i like it...

So how do we get rid of all the grass cuttings left all over the fairways?,

Easy, with two John Deere Gators, about 150 meters lenght of old Triflex hoses tied together and then tied to the back of each buggy and towed flat out up and down each fairway a dozen times. Just got to watch out for bunkers through the Sea Harr, and pre check for no golfers first... -:)

After this busy week a few ciders are well in order over the weekend...

Some film shot on the Go Pro...
Bloomin Youtube blocked my film because of the song choice!, so here it is uploaded on Vimeo - Vimeo also has no stupid pop up adverts -:)

Song is `I Don`t Know` by The Beastie Boys


  1. A Scotsman complaining about the rain in Scotland???

    There's no such thing as bad weather in Scotland, just the wrong clothing, so get yourself a raincoat and live a little. LOL

  2. That was a very interesting read Bruce... feel like I know a fair bit more about Greenkeeping now. Liked the video too.

  3. Aye, the video was good! Extreme Mowers!

  4. Great read...Pictures and video also.

    Thanks for the post!

  5. Great video and brilliant to hear 'I dont Know' by the Beastie Boys. What a tune.

  6. Nice one!

    Sorry to hear about the toe and the chest infection. Hope both getting better.

    Pint soon?

  7. Hi Bruce,

    Just been guided toward your blog by someone at work who didn't know I was a member a Whitekirk. Very interesting post - what a (not) summer we've had, it just hasn't stopped once. You guys do a hell of a job up there and it makes me really angry when people complain about the course condition - have they not seen the weather?! Keep up the good work, here's hoping for a later August/September summer, cheers.

    Mike (grateful Whitekirk member)

  8. Hi Mike, thanks for your support!, much appreciated!.
    Yep it has been some summer so far!, hope the weather picks up for the competitions starting on the 27th!