Author: Geoff Smith

Geoff Smith is Abridge Course Manager.

What are these !!!!

I am sure most of you already know what these are and the problems they cause but I want to educate those that don’t .

This picture of the 8th green shows thousands of grubs called leatherjackets which basically are the grubs that turn into a crane fly( aka Daddy long legs). Their eggs are normally laid in late summer -Autumn and once hatched basically feed off the roots of grass and if not got rid of can cause terrible damage and even total loss of grass cover. They are and are found pretty much everywhere and some years are worse than others depending on many factors. Until 3 years ago we had a pesticide, chlorpyriphos, that we could legally spray and they were totally eradicated . This pesticide is now banned and we have very little single effective treatment to get rid of the darling little things!

This year we are suffering with them on the following areas the 1st,3rd,8th,13th,17th and the putting green, and also the 18th fairway. All we can do is now use a combination of various methods.

SOME PEOPLE THINK THIS IS JUST ABRIDGE THAT GET THEM !! If I was that lucky I would do the Lottery !

Please ,if you are one of those who think it’s just Abridge GC, for your own education of the problem we are facing either right click on this link below or copy and paste it in your web browser to read a very interesting and clear explanation of the problem. We are not making excuses we are telling you the honest truth about an issue ALL Golf Clubs have got!

The methods we can try legally now and have been the last two years are 4 fold. Accelypryn, this is an emergency licensed pesticide which has some effect but not a total cure. Nematodes, this is a biological way of getting rid of them, they do work but you need very very precise conditions to make them work. Vegetable Oil, this is something being trialled and seems to suffocate the leatherjacket but again you need precise conditions. ‘Sheeting off‘. This is literally covering areas off with large dark plastic sheets overnight, it seems to bring the leatherjackets to the surface. This does bring a lot of them to the surface but not all of them. The issue with this is we have to take the sheeted area out of play from the afternoon until the next morning. We will continue to do this though over the next couple of weeks . Please see the video below.

Leatherjackets being ‘sheeted out’

Sheeting off the 8th green

Sorry the last bit of that video also contained a clip of the damage the heavy rain caused last night! Another nice little issue the dreadful week of weather we are having, but at least we know the drainage is working!

So as you have now hopefully read we do have a problem and as always we are trying , like all other Golf Clubs, to do as much as we legally can do ! Regrettably, a few Golf Courses may still be spraying things they should not be! it should be a level playing field?

I know Lol Green sent a link to a much more in depth explanation . Copy and paste the link below. It’s an hour long presentation but I ask that if you do get time please watch, as this issue is all about education and getting you as Golfers to understand the issue?

To sum up hopefully in the next week or so we will have thrown every bit of ammunition and the warmer growing conditions arrive we will out compete the leatherjackets and the areas affected by leatherjackets will start to recover. It’s been a terrible spring for grass conditions but it is what it is , we are where we are and we will always be trying our best!

Who would be a Greenkeeper!!

Most of you are very understanding and those that are not so understanding I ask you read and watch the articles i have posted.

Sorry for going on but I have to get this message across !

Bunkers getting topped up next week !

Enjoy you Course , Enjoy your Club …………It’s your’s remember!

Frustrating times, but hopefully higher temperatures are on the way!

This very strange cold, dry weather we have experienced the last month or so continues to test all Greenkeepers and puts us under immense pressure to try and get things ‘ kick started’ We have no magic wands I am afraid to make grass grow in cold dry just above freezing temperatures. This April, as I understand, was one of the coolest and driest April’s on record and Monday’s bank holiday was the coldest ever recorded early May Bank holiday, so please be patient with us we are doing our best and are very ready to start manicuring your Golf Course as soon as we get some proper growth and some decent temperatures. As I write this (Saturday 8th May) the rain has arrives, 17mm in 4 hours to be precise and slightly warmer. Ha ha and as i finish this article off (Monday 10th May) the nightime temperature has been 10 degrees so maybe the start of growing is coming!

Below is an article that appeared in the Telegraph a couple of days ago which I thought you might find interesting. Copy and paste the link on your internet browser.

I thought I would answer a few more of your questions

Drainage works
Drainage works on 18th fairway
  1. How is the drainage going and why did you stop doing the 10th hole

The drainage is going well despite the issues with the 10th. It’s a lot harder doing the installation with Golfers playing than when we were in Lockdown last year and the Course was shut, but I obviously don’t wish for closures again. 18th’s Mains and primary drainage is all complete and we are well on the way to completing the 16th hole this week . The reason we had to stop doing the 10th was because there was an issue with the irrigation cables not being installed deep enough. Whilst we were trenching we hit cables 5 times so we soon realised there was a problem . Our Irrigation contractors came straight out to see us and have confirmed that they are not happy with the depth of the cables on the 10th. All cables have been repaired and now working. We could carry on and dig around the cables by hand which would take a lot longer and risk further damage, but the contractors wish to come and re-install the cables at a deeper depth later in the year. So we have moved onto the 16th which has been one of the wettest fairways the last few years. To improve the results we have reduced the spacings between each of the primary drain lines. This obviously then takes longer to do but will be worth it. The plan is to carry on this week where we will complete the 16th and go back to holes 7 and 8 and add some more primary drains to these holes. We will then stop for a few months as we really appreciate everyone’s patience during the upheaval of drainage works and want to allow you all to enjoy ALL of your golf course. We aim to start further drainage later in the year and we also have a couple more ditches to get done.

2. When will the Bunkers be topped up with Sand and the ones that we have started filling in be finished?

As soon as we get the drainage out of the way this week , we will start topping up bunkers with new sand. We also will be soiling and either turfing or seeding the Bunkers that are to be filled in. Finally we will re-construct the bunker at the 2nd Green and 4th Fairway bunker.

3. Greens are still bobbly, when will this be sorted?

Once again this is all to do with night time temperatures and lack of growth. As i have already said this has been a stupidly cold dry Spring. Forecast after this weekend is for it to start warming up so fingers crossed. We are and will be doing all that we can to get things moving.

4. There are a lot of soil piles around the edges of the course, will they be tidied up?

We are very aware of this and once the drainage is finished next week we will be reusing a lot of the soil to fill the chosen Bunkers in . We will also be getting the Digger out and shaping the piles around the Golf course.

Well that’s it for this time hope you have all found the info useful. W/c 17th May we will hopefully have the conditions to Verti-cut and topdress greens plus start giving all surfaces a nice feed and manicure.

Enjoy your Course, Enjoy your Club …………..It’s yours remember !

Questions answered.

Hi all, hope you are all enjoying your Golf, even though it’s flipping cold! Amazing that we are getting frosts every morning presently and temperatures not getting above single figures during the day, the grass on surfaces have just gone ‘back into Winter mode’

First I must mention that we are commencing further drainage works now that conditions are perfect . Apologies if this causes any inconvenience to any of you but the work needs to be done if we are to continue with our investment of making the Course drier during the Winter months.

We plan to install the main and primary drains over the next 3-4 weeks on holes 18,16 and 10. This means on certain days a hole will be closed so we will be using the green next to the 8th as the extra hole . I will update you all each day as to whats going on and thank you for your understanding (hopefully !).

Ok, I have been asked a few questions by a few members so I will attempt to answer them

  1. What are all the lines on the fairways and tees?

The lines are where we have been overseeding. All tees have been overseeded The fairways, where there is damage from the Winter’s drainage works and damage from Leatherjackets/Bird pecking have also been overseeded. The machine creates a perfect groove and automatically drops seed into it. The very cool temperatures we are experiencing presently means we have to be patient as it will take longer for the seed to start ‘popping’ and filling in the areas. In a few weeks the lines will have gone.

It’s gone very dry why are we not watering?

From going from yet another wet record breaking Winter, we have gone very cool and dry in 4 weeks! Most Golf Managers I talk to in Essex are all praying for some natural rain. If we water in these temperatures with cold ‘mains’ water it merely sends the grass into ‘shock’ and can actually stop it trying to grow as the grass thinks it’s in Winter. However slowly but surely this week night time temperatures are rising and we are also watering a bit during the day once temperatures rise so thats why you may see some sprinklers on when you play.

When will the greens that have some bare patches recover?

The areas damaged from the excessive wet weather and leatherjacket issues have been overseeded and we really just need some warmer temperatures and dare i say a little rain and these areas will start to recover

Why does the 18th fairway and certain areas look ‘weak?

The 18th fairway has suffered from Leatherjacket damage this Winter, aswell as a few areas on the 1st, 3rd and 8th fairways. The grubs attack and feed on the roots making the grass plant weak, then the Birds realise there are grubs under the surface and start pecking and destroying the Turf to feed on the grubs. With all Chemicals that eradicated this 100% now presently banned we have very little options but to just let nature take its course. However, overseeding and fertilising will soon get these areas back in shape.

On Tuesday and Thursday this week what was being sprayed it smelt awful!?

Our new GPS Sprayer in use

I personally like the smell but I know many of you didn’t! It’s basically a ‘natural’ fertiliser of Sugars and Molasses, that gives carbohydrates and other beneficial nutrients to the grasses roots which encourages recovery from the Winter and root damage such as leatherjackets. It assists in ‘waking the plant up’ and also helps with seed germination.

The mapping system on our Sprayer

A bit of technology info now if you like that sort of thing. Our new sprayer is fitted with a very sophisticated Gps system. We have mapped all areas of the Golf course and categorised them . This mean for example when we want to a spray a certain area we type in where we are and the area appears green on the screen. We then have to drive the sprayer over this area and the spray nozzles only spray where needed , colouring in the green area grey. The advantages of this are many, but to name a few, accurate use of Chemicals, no overlap or potential ‘miss’ issues, spraying only the areas required and not wasting Chemicals.

Hope you have found these questions and answers useful?

Please be patient the next few weeks while we wait for temperatures to pick up and the grasses to start growing properly . And also remember the drainage works are essential.

That’s it for now I’m off to buy myself some new Sketcher Golf Shoes’ that Jack’s just started stocking in his shop! Go and see for yourself they are awesome !

Enjoy your Course, Enjoy your Club………’s yours remember!

Great to have you back, but ?

Hi everyone and so great to see you all back enjoying your Golf Course!

Hopefully you will agree the Course is in pretty good condition considering its only early April! Hopefully you will also have noticed a lot of the jobs my hard working Greenstaff have done during this third Lockdown. Its great to see full tee time sheets and everyone safely enjoying themselves, even though our routine jobs are taking twice as long now!

The reason for the ‘BUT ‘ in the title of this report is that I have to strongly complain, to what I’m sure is only a few of you, but none the less extremely disappointing of some basic Golf Etiquette and correct procedures being ignored that as Golfers you should ALL be adhering to !

I cannot believe that in just 4 days of Golfers returning the ridiculous amount of Pitch Marks that are being left not repaired on all of the Greens. A few of you will be complaining about ‘bumpy inconsistent greens in a few weeks? Please do not complain to me or my staff! Moan at your fellow Golfers for not doing their job ! The damage done to a Golf Green by not repairing yours or any others pitch marks is incredible.

I AGAIN below have included a video of showing you the damage a pitch mark makes and how you correctly repair your pitchmark or any others you may see.

How to repair a pitch mark

The picture below shows what we discovered on Wednesday morning at the back of the 5th Green. It looks like somone has hit a bad shot and then in anger just took a swipe and chunk out of the green! DON’T ! If you make a bad shot ,moan, explete, gesticulate or get a Lesson from Jack! DON’T take it out on the Golf Course please.

Finally please explain to me why if a sign says No Trollies past this point, or No Trollies this way , or GUR ( Ground under repair) or Buggy’s stay on paths at ALL times! we have seen many golfers disobeying these requests? Do those that ignore these signs think they are special that the signs don’t apply to them? Or do they just not care about your Golf Course?

If you see any of your fellow golfers doing any of the above please tell them to stop.

As I said earlier my staff and myself have worked very very hard to give you the best possible course we could give you for your return in March, especially considering the awful wet Winter we have had. It’s quite insulting to see how quickly a few of you want to just abuse ‘Your Golf Course’ and then expect us to make it all magically right.

We have so much planned over the next few weeks and months to create an amazing Course, however, I ask that you don’t create more work for us than is necessary so we can get on with jobs we need and want to do to continue to improve Your golf course!

That’s the moan over but I hope those these moans apply to listen and act. Plans for the next 4 weeks are to finish verti-draining all fairways, overseed tees, fairways and other areas where needed. Greens and other surfaces get a feed next week or so, and as and when its right to do so, we will start lowering heights of cut on certain areas. We are also continuing with some of the ditch work and getting ready to draining the 18th and 16th fairways. We are also continuing with the bunker reshapes and ‘fill ins’

Once again welcome to all of our new members and welcome back to all of our loyal existing members, it’s great to see you all.

Enjoy your Course , Enjoy your club……..It’s yours remember !

Are you Ready ? We are!

Well I hope you are excited about your return to your Golf club next Monday. As I wrote to you all a few weeks ago we have been very busy when the weather has played ball!

The wet weather has continued through March up until last week. Thankfully we have had a good dry last 7 days allowing us to get on with some of the jobs i mentioned were being planned.

My staff have worked exceedingly hard the last few months during very difficult times and I hope you will all appreciate these circumstances have been challenging for us all.

I would like to welcome our new member of staff who has replaced Marc. Luke Herron joined us this week , some of you may remember him as he worked at Abridge approx 12 years ago as a junior Pro. Hopefully he will be a better Greenkeeper than he was a Golfer !

Most areas have now been cut, though there are some wet places that still need time to dry out before we can cut them.

7th Fairway

Greens have been fed and top dressed, ( don’t panic like one of our Members did earlier this week! , they have not been smothered in sand, just a light dressing to help smooth them out, it’s far too early for any heavy sanding) and the greens are now at their normal March/ April height of cut and are starting to recover nicely from the wet Winter.

Greens coming on nicely for the time of year

All Bunkers have been edged, weeded, heavily raked and put back in play. We have managed to get a few of the ‘fill in’ bunkers turfed and I ask you to please keep of all of the new turf.

Bunkers looking good

The driving Range Tee has also been finished and the mats have been moved to the front of the tee while we let the turf ‘knit in’. The club and Jack have invested a lot of time and money to give you a great new practice Tee and I ask that you please keep off at all times until it’s ready to use. This applies to all of you !!

Turf being laid and watered on the New Driving Range Tee

We are ahead of schedule on some of the Jobs and a little behind on others. Thank you to Del Morgan and Barry Francis who gave up some of their time last weekend to help out with some jobs. I would also like to thank Lol ‘Mr Abridge’ Green for all his help, he can be seen most days getting his daily exercise wandering around the course sorting little jobs out!

The Wildlife have been enjoying the peace and quiet, and as much as it’s lovely to see it and we often disturb their ‘private garden’ we are all really excited about re-opening and no doubt being told off by a few for disturbing you as Golfers!

Munch-jack rarely seen when Golfers are around
Deer on the 7th tee

It’s such a great time to be a Member of Abridge GC as there has been so much invested on the Course and in the Clubhouse in the last few years and so much more planned ! To have a waiting list to join us as a member now is a great sign that most of you appreciate what we are trying to achieve and we are getting a great reputation of the ‘place to be’!

I welcome all of our New Members that are joining , please make yourselves known to my staff as they are all quite friendly and always happy to answer any questions you might have.

I also welcome seeing all of you, our existing Members, back to our Club from next Monday. Hope you are ready ?


Enjoy your Golf , Enjoy your Club………..It’s yours remember!


Course Manager

We’re coming back! but it’s been a tough winter

Well I hope this update finds you all safe and well? Lockdown has been tough and its been quite tough trying to get jobs done in relentless rain and the odd week of snow! You only have to had walked around where you live and look at the excessive water on the fields until a couple of weeks ago to see how bad this Winter has been. 3 weeks ago we were covered in snow ! after yet another record breaking wet winter! The positive is that the last 2 weeks we have been dry and warmer and things are slowly drying out.

4th and 5th three weeks ago
The flooded fields below the 13th green before the snow arrived

Those that like statistics, here are the rainfall details when comparing Winters the last 3 years.

October 2018 – 1st Mar 2019 226 mm October 2019 – 1st Mar 2020 503 mm October 2020 – 1at mar 2021 644 mm

I want to manage expectations of your return, we have had an atrocious Winter and please remember we ‘Locked down’ last year on the 29th March 2020 and ‘unlocked’ the 16th May 2020. This time we are ‘unlocking’ the 29th March 2021, we cannot rush surfaces, we are doing our best so please remember it’s only March. My staff and myself are fully committed to producing a great Golf Course as soon as conditions allow but please be patient.

As you all know we are approximately a year ahead of our Drainage installation schedule. On solid clay, as we are, very little drainage systems would cope with the persistent rainfall, but the drains we have installed to date are working and doing a noticeable job. As stated when we decided to install drainage we were never going to be able make Abridge dry as the summer, but, what we aim to achieve are quicker draining surfaces and more playable, but this will take time and we are certainly doing and trying our best! The 1st 5 holes have noticeably drained quicker these last couple of weeks.

On a positive note the Greenstaff have been trying to do as much as possible since December and are working hard to get things ready for your welcome return. Below are some of the jobs we hope ! to complete by the 29th March

New ditch at 2nd Hole to take water away from the 1st Hole. Cleared the existing ditch on the right hand side of the 2nd Hole. The sleeper wall at the 4th tee has been replaced and rebuilt where it was collapsing. Completion of the New Driving Range Tee.

Driving Range tee

A new fence at the back of the 4th Green. Extensive tree work between 6th and 7th fairways including ditch clearing. New winter mats at 7th and 8th Holes. Tree thinning at the 9th Green. Re-sealing of the leak in the 14th Pond All greens, tees and approaches verti-drained, seeded, top dressed and given a ‘starter’ fertiliser.

18th Green after a long awaited trim

Completion of the new patio area Installation of several new ditches to help with the drainage. Installation of Main and Primary drains on either the 16th or 18th Further secondary drainage on some of the front 9 holes. Repainting and cleaning of all Course furniture Turfing some of the bunkers that we had started filling in

Work on the 4th TEE

So hopefully you can see we are busy! and also as trying to get surfaces cut where possible as the course continues to dry. Obviously some of the above jobs are weather dependant but at least we have plans!

Click on the video below to see a summary of some of the work and conditions since December. Apologies its a bit disjointed but I put it together in limited time !

A few of the things that have happened the last few months.

Moving forward into this year we are geared up and budgeted for doing the following Drainage and Course improvement works as soon as conditions allow us . These jobs will carry on throughout this year to continue to improve the playability and overall condition of the Course.

Continuation of the Drainage works on holes 10,14,16 and 18 New ditches to enable Pipe drainage and general water run off to drain off the Golf Course. Installation of pipe drainage to Greens 1, 7 and 13. Completion of the Bunker reducing programme and rebuilding of the bunkers at the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 11th holes .

The above represents significant continuing investment in your Golf club. Consider how much has been done the last 4 years:- Full coverage High Tech Irrigation . Paths around all 18 holes allowing Buggy’s and Trolley’s all year round Drainage of the whole course over the next 3-5 years A fantastic new Clubhouse incorporating ‘The Lounge’ with new patio. Great new catering and social events, ( when allowed!) by Tina and Paddy A great new Proshop, Caddy store, Fitting Centre and New Driving Range Tee all handled by our great Pro Jack Winer and his staff. . It just shows with what’s been done to date and whats planned why its great being a member here at Abridge Golf Club


Enjoy your Golf , Enjoy your Club………..It’s yours remember!

DRAINAGE ! is going in at Abridge Golf Club

This Winter has been one of the longest, wettest and ‘trying’ ones for many a year. In fact February has just been announced as the wettest February’s on record! So it’s time to do something about it.

We are going to start installing a Comprehensive Drainage system into Fairways and Approaches to make the Course more playable in the wetter periods. This drainage will never stop some of the excessive flooding conditions we have had this Winter, BUT what it will do is to enable the surfaces to cope with the rainfall and drain the surfaces quicker. At the moment the water has nowhere to go and just sits on the surfaces as the clay subsoil underneath is saturated.

The plans and install methods have been checked by a qualified Drainage Consultant.

The plan consists installing Main, Primary and Secondary Drainage. We have measured and surveyed all 18 holes and then prioritised where we feel is best to start, but this depends massively on ground and Weather conditions and maintenance of your Golf Course.

Perforated drainage pipe

Overall, we will be laying in excess of 3,500M of Mains Drainage, in excess of 7,000M of Primary Drainage and in excess of 80,000M of Secondary drainage over the next 3-4 years!


These will be installed in the appropriate places in the Rough just along the edges of Fairways and Approaches.

Another view of the Trencher at work

They will consist of a trench with 100mm perforated pipe covered with a non-woven Geo textile Sock (this helps to stop the silting up of the pipe), the trench will then be backfilled to the surface using 10mm washed pea shingle. These will be visible for a while until the grass grows over the top of the gravel. Inspection points along the Main drains will be installed for us to service and keep the pipes clear.

How we will backfill the primary drainage trenches with Gravel

Backfilling trenches with a 3 Ton Gravel Trailer


These will be installed in the appropriate places. They are spaced between 5M and 10M apart and connect directly into the Main drains

Primary drains consist of a trench with 80mm perforated pipe, backfilled with 10mm washed pea shingle up to 75mm below the surface. The remaining 75mm will be filled with an 80/20 sand/soil mix. This stops gravel coming to the surface which can ruin mower blades and also help to limit ‘Tiger striping’ during very dry periods. It also gives a good base for grass to grow and ‘knit’ the drainage lines in.


Secondary drains enable surface water to reach the Primary Drains quicker. They are spaced at 1M apart.

Secondary drains  consist of closely spaced gravel bands , approx. 20-25 mm wide and injected into the playing surface 200-250mm deep by a vibrating channel opener. Instead of using gravel we use Lytag.

Gravel Bander used for secondary drainage installation

 LYTAG is a porous material that is far superior to gravel in carrying water away from desired areas. It can drain up to 10 times faster than 10mm gravel. It’s a recycled material from made from the fly ash, a by-product of coal fired power stations. It’s been used by Drainage contractors for over 30 years. Lytag on the surface does not cause damage to mower blades and owing to its honeycomb design it holds a small percentage of water which helps with stopping ‘tiger striping’ during dry periods.

Also, as no soil is removed in laying secondary drainage surface disturbance is minimal and play can resume almost immediately.

Watch how the gravel bander works to install secondary drainage

Using a 3ton Gravel bander to install the Secondary Drainage


One of the most labour-intensive jobs during the drainage installation will be the back filling of the primary drainage trenches with the 75mm of sand/soil. This has to be done by hand and shovel.  It’s your Golf course remember and if you would like to help us with this job it would be greatly appreciated! Two members have already instigated that they would be willing to help at times so if you would also like to get involve please contact me on or leave a message with Lol Green or the office.


You cannot make an omelette without breaking some eggs! However, given this Winter we have all just endured I hope to think you will all cope with a little inconvenience whilst we endeavour to make your Golf Course so much more playable. There will be some mess and occasionally we will have to close a whole while certain jobs are carried out.

We have decided on the following strategy, but this really does depend on several factors, weather, the ability to get onto the surfaces with the machinery, staff levels and pressure of Golf. We have also to maintain your Golf Course to the highest standards the main Season.

March 2020 – November 2020.        Holes 1- 7

March 2021 – November 2021.        Holes 10,11,14,16,18

March 2022 – November 2022.       Holes 12,13,14,17

March 2023 – November 2023.       Holes 8,9, practice hole and parts of the Driving Range

The above is definitely subject to change. I will update you as much as I can.

I hope you are excited as we are of completing this massive upgrade in your Course.

Hole 18th at Abridge Golf Club
Hole 18th at Abridge Golf Club





As announced a few weeks ago the next stage of your Golf Course improvement plan is to invest heavily in Drainage .

The weather won again

Very sorry but we cannot beat this relentless wet weather. The Front 9 holes will be closed today as its just too wet underfoot to be safe to play. The back 9 holes are open but there will be some temporary greens in play . Buggy’s and ALL Trolleys must stick to the paths at all times. Please take care there are some very slippery areas on the course

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