Re: Ould Newbury - Greens Chairman Update – Friday, May 11, 2018
Dear Ould Newbury Members,
I’m glad that Mother Nature has finally cooperated and we’re starting to see warmer temperatures and more enjoyable golf weather. For those who have been able to play a few rounds this spring, and for those who will be getting out soon, you will undoubtedly notice a few major changes and improvement projects we have done over the winter and early spring months.
These improvement projects fall under our two main focal points regarding the golf course:
- To consistently provide the very best playing conditions possible to our members and guests.
- To follow our vision of slowly returning Ould Newbury back to its originally intended design that includes natural areas and a “natural marsh” feel – dating back over 100 years.
Our vision was developed in conjunction with PGA golf course designers, environmental consultants and the town of Newbury Conservation Committee. The improvements will take several years to complete as we can only manage so many projects every year. With that, I have provided a brief outline of the projects and the reasoning behind each.
Last year we began removing several of the cedar trees along the right-hand side of the fairway. This project will improve the playing experience, give players a quality landing zone if they do not hit the green and speed play. Previously, balls hit into this area simply rolled down the dirt hill leaving the player with no reasonable chance of saving par. This past week we graded, reseeded and Barry Manter came in and covered the entire area with a protective hay layer – thank you Barry! The work area is clearly marked as ground under repair and “all” balls within the area are to be retrieved and brought to the designated drop zone without penalty until the grass takes.
The “Hickory Tree” on 9:
While many of you would love to have the tree removed we simply cannot cut down such an icon at Ould Newbury. If you don’t know or haven’t heard, many years ago several members tried to burn the tree down without success (true story see the cement blocks in the cavity of the tree!). Realizing the tree was growing out of control and becoming quite the obstacle to go around or go over, we did the next best thing and consulted with numerous tree professionals over the winter. Several weeks ago, we had an arborist come out and trim the large hickory. It’s estimated that we removed between 20-25 years of growth.
6th Tee Box Area:
Perhaps the most dramatic change this winter was the removal of numerous trees in and around the 6th tee box area and behind the 5th green. The reasoning behind this project is twofold. First, numerous trees in this area were overgrown and affected by a large expanse of Asiatic Vines. Second, with the dense canopy and lack of sun, we have not been able to grow or sustain quality grass on the tee boxes in years. The playing surface was unacceptable for our standards and the annual expense of aerating and reseeding without quality results was costly.
With a project of this scope, myself, General Manger Ron Margeson and Super Intendent Scott Godfrey consulted with several arborists, environmental consultants, the Department of Environmental Protection and with the Director of the Newbury Conservation Committee. During our site visits, it was determined that many of the trees were extremely overgrown, dead, and engulfed in Asiatic Vines which was causing extreme damage to the natural habitat species. There were also numerous severely diseased trees on or within the tee box area that had a short life expectancy - ultimately resulting in unsafe conditions for our members during high winds or storms.
Redesign of the 6th Tee Boxes:
With the approval from the DEP and Newbury Conservation Committee we removed the trees this winter and Scott Godfrey has started the process of rebuilding and landscaping all 3 tee boxes. Our current plan calls for the initial closure of the upper tee box closest to the 5th green, followed by the lower tee box. During this time players will be asked to hit from the open upper tee or they will have the option of hitting from the drop area closer to the green.
Other significant projects completed or scheduled for 2018
- New granite tee markers have been installed on most holes.
- 1st Tee – area on hill behind lower tee box is in the process of being landscaped – Old shrubs to be replaced with new colorful plantings & flowers. Timeframe TBD
- New natural areas:
- It is our plan and vision to create numerous natural areas throughout the course. Many of these areas will be returned to their natural state and/or we will plant new fescue grasses in these locations. Example: In front of back tee box on the 7th and the hill area below the 3rd – upper tee box.
- Many other of proposed areas lie outside of the normal field of play and will dramatically increase the beauty of our landscape.
- New “shelter shed” – replacing old decrepit shed behind/adjacent to lower tower box on hole 7.
- New shed designed to accommodate 2 golf carts and ample seating during inclement weather.
- Shed can also serve as staging area for beverage cart and hospitality options during key tournaments
We are moving to a bi-annual deep tine aerification (Spring/Fall) program. The Spring aerification occurred on Thursday, May 10th. While a temporary inconvenience to our players, the aerification process has many benefits, including increasing the oxygen and water deep into the turf and helping to maintain healthy and disease-free turf.
The greens were also punched in early April with our needle tines (smaller tines). This process is barely noticeable to the naked eye and simply allows the greens to breath and absorb much needed moisture. Scott will micro punch the greens several times throughout the year.
In the coming weeks, our Super Intendent Scott Godfrey, will be sending out an email with a few additional notes and updates on our projects. Scott will also review some general course maintenance guidelines and practices to ensure the quality of our golf course. In the meantime, if any of you have questions or would like to learn more about the projects we have done please don’t hesitate to ask me.
ONGC – Greens Chairman