Let’s start off with the weather information this month; we have had 62.66mm of rain compared to an average for March of 102.64mm so still a lot less than normal. The temperature has been slightly below average for the time of year with an average of only 15.1 degrees over the month compared to the normal 16 degrees.

The course is looking good at the moment with lots of definition everywhere and the rough as you may have noticed has kicked in and started to grow.
As a standard, we monitor soil temperatures at the end of our spring period and also at the end of the summer period this is for 2 reasons: it gives us a guide of when the Bermuda grass starts to grow and also inversely at the end of the season when the temperature drops and the Bermuda grass starts to go dormant, this soil temperature varies not only locally but all along the coast as well. To give you the standard guide lines we work to, is that Bermuda grass only starts to grow strongly when the soil temperature reaches around 22 degrees, other than that it stays dormant and either light green or brown in color.

This is why at this time of year you may have a garden that is sheltered and south facing and your Bermuda grass is growing green and beautiful but round the back of your house in the shade you have brown patchy grass which you believe your gardener isn’t watering or looking after, it’s not the case it’s the temperature of the soil and lack of sun. This also applies on the Costa del Sol where we are often compared to the courses from Marbella to Malaga but that area on average is 2 degrees warmer than we are in the straits of Gibraltar. Just as reference at the moment the soil temperature is only 16.9 degrees due to the slightly colder spring but by the second week of May this will have increased to the 22 degrees required and summer for the course will have officially arrived.

The Old Course reform is building momentum with meetings on the course and off it with the tendering company’s , they are now in the preliminary stages of putting forward initial costings and the schedules of work they intend to implements, we as always will keep you up dated on any significant decisions as we progress.

Update on the ongoing work on the golf course.

The initial investments at present on the course is concerning infrastructure and a lot of work happening you may not see but as of next week repair work will start on our maintenance area which involved a whole modernization of the area to meet new laws and standards.

Firstly we are removing the old parking shelters at the side of the building, cleaning the roof tiles of debris and leaves and then repairing and painting the whole building, inside we are leveling the main patio area as this has become worn and different level over the last 30 years and revamping the mechanics workshop with new lifting equipment and workshop machines. Then we will look to rearrange the storage areas to make better use of the space we have and then relevel the parking area.

On the course we have been given the go ahead to fence in areas were the wild boars are entering and causing damage to the course, as you can understand this will not be an ordinary fence, it will have special features included to prevent the boars entering, and will be a mammoth task consisting of over 2.4 km of fence running from the tee boxes on the 3rd hole all the way to the back of the green on the 5th. This will keep the boar in the corridor ecologico which runs down the side of the 4th and 5th holes, this is the main corridor for wild animals to be able to pass through the middle of Sotogrande to reach the coast and back. Also we will install the fence from the 13th tee box all the way to the 15th green on the other side of the golf course; this will stop access for the boars from the PARQUE NATURAL DE LOS ALCORNOCALES which runs along the side of the course and hopefully stop our friendly cow (and it is a cow not a bull) grazing on the 15th tee box in the future.

Other things of note are gates will be installed on the crossings between the 12th green and the 13th tee box and the 15th green and the 16th tee box. This is mainly to stop non-member buggies from entering the course and causing any damage but also for their own safety as many have no lights and could easily enter a lake or a bunker late at night and never be discovered till the next day.

On the course you will see our little changes in presentation we are installing with new flags cups and pins and also when we change the holes we are painting the holes white for better vison and presentation, although when it rains we may need to paint then the next day as one of my staff found out last week he returned to the workshop with more paint on himself than on the holes.

The preventative herbicide has been applied for the second time to all the old course only 2-3 more treatments to go this year. Greens and surrounds have been liquid fertilized and treated against disease.

On a slightly different tone I was quite alarmed to find divots had been taken out of the 5th green on the morning before captains day not just one but 2 large divots in different areas, so if when playing you see any intentional damage been done on the course, please report it to the caddy master or the shop and we will deal with it accordantly.

Also at this time of year please could you be aware of how close many buggies are getting to the greens and on tees this is for the good of our course and the more different routes and directions people take the less wear and tear happens on the course.

So for the next month its looks like once again we have a very exciting and busy time ahead of us so till next month I’ll say goodbye.

Robert Bell
Head Greenkeeper