This page contains an update from the Greens Team


The following summary of works on the green has been prepared by Roger Darbourne, who leads the Greens Team.

State of the Green.

As the greenkeeper I feel that I should give an explanation regarding the condition of the club's green.

I took over greenkeeping in late 2013 after Mick Lane had completed his autumn programme,which was to scarify followed by hollow core tining. As an alternative to the usual application oftop dressing, the cores were left on the green to break up naturally. Overseeding and autumn fertiliser were applied at this time, but no topdressing was applied.  All of this and what was carried out in the winter months was as recommended by John Firmin, the county greens adviser.

The grass was cut to 12mm until the middle of March when it was then gradually reduced to 5mm for the start of the season. At the beginning of April I lightly scarified the green. This again, is as recommended by Mr Firmin.

The adjustment to the groomer on our mower removed a great abundance of thatch but at the same time thinned the turf in some areas.

It was suggested by Bill Bowler that we should increase the amount of aeration to at least once a week and to sorrel roll at the same frequency to promote root growth. I must
stress that a programme of spiking and sorrel rolling had been carried out throughout the winter months.

In addition, on the advice of the Sherriff Amenity representative, I arranged a soil analysis which pointed up a low potassium level (approximately 40% of guideline) which may have been due to leaching out of nutrients by the huge amount of rain over the winter. This has now been dealt with. The rep also recommended treatment with a
wetting agent to aid efficient fertilising and draining, and this has also been done.

Unfortunately, the spring overseeding, using the remains of last year's seed, had very limited success, partly because of the weather and partly because of a low rate of germination of the seed. Although we have successfully used last season's seed in the past and the life of seed can be up to ten years, it apparently needs to be stored in a cool environment and ours had been kept in a warm to hot shed from the spring of 2013. As we don't have cool storage I shall in future order only what is required for immediate use.

On Bill's recommendation I temporarily stopped mowing (barely anything to cut anyway) and increased the spiking rate to once or twice a week with sorrel rolling at the
same rate.

I have again spoken with John Firmin and confirmed that all the necessary treatments have already been carried out. He attributes the very slow rate of growth of the grass to the low temperatures we experienced during spring.

As suggested by a member who recently bowled at Chesham I sought an opinion from Bicester Turf Care as to the slow growth rate and also whether he would quote to act as green-keeper for us. His annual fee would be £6,480.00.  He has made clear what he includes and the resulting work for our green team would be mowing and maintaining the club grounds. His price includes all the treatments but not top dressing, which would be extra. As part of Mr Buswell's survey he took a six inch core sample which showed roots had penetrated to the bottom of the sample. So poor root system is not the answer to slow growth.

With respect to using an expert, I have always consulted expert guidance in the form of the monthly maintenance diary provided free by the company serving the Turfcare Industry, Pitchcare, and when necessary I have contacted the County Green's Adviser.

I hope the above satisfies the committee that the practices employed by our green team are correct and would be expected to produce a good playing surface. Nobody has
been able to explain why it has not.


Roger Darbourne

Greenkeeper 2013-14