Friday, 20 March 2009


In the coming months one of the most important tools the course staff will use is the irrigation system. Our system was manufactured by Rainbird and was installed in 2007/8 by MJ Abbott. It covers all greens, tees, surrounds, fairways, some rough areas, turf nurseries and the chipping area. There are six boreholes which keep the 1 million gallon capacity reservoir topped up.

1 million gallon reservoir

Three large pumps distribute the water around the course at a pressure of 150 psi through a network of pipes up to the irrigation sprinkler heads. The system has been designed to ensure that water is applied accurately and wastage is kept to a minimum. Low trajectory sprinklers are used in the most exposed spots to ensure the wind has a minimal impact. A central computer located in the maintenance facility is used to program and run the system.

Mission control!

The course has been mapped using GPS with every sprinkler head, valve and pipe marked. Any sprinkler head can be turned on either at the base station, manually at the head or by using a remote control unit. The system can be programmed to run any number of heads in any sequence starting at any time.

Course map as seen on the system display

Zoomed in view of hole 1, chipping area, 9th green and 8th tee

Record keeping is made easy with this system as it automatically maintains detailed records of application timings and quantities giving weekly, monthly or annual aggregated totals. A weather station is also linked in to the system providing real time data of wind speed and direction, precipitation, humidity and temperature. From this information evapo-transpiration rates are calculated which the system can use to determine how much water should be applied to maintain optimum soil moisture levels.

Daily weather records are automatically maintained

As you can see, our system makes it easy for us to apply water accurately and at the rates we want. However, we must remember that this does not mean we always want the golf course to be green and lush. Inappropriate and overuse of the irrigation system can cause serious long term problems to turf which can take years to rectify. We aim to use the system only when the health of the desirable grass plants would otherwise suffer, not just to soften the greens so the ball is easier to control or to green up the fairways to make them look "nice".
In late winter and very early spring we rarely irrigate even in extended dry periods because the cold water only serves to lower soil temperatures causing what little growth we have at that time of the year to stop completely. Much better dry, firm and slow growth than moist, soft and no growth! We generally irrigate in all dry spells throughout the mid-spring/early summer period to ensure the turf has optimal growth conditions to recover from the stresses of winter. Once mid summer comes we will relax the irrigation to allow the turf to dry out somewhat in order to stress the undesirable grass species and to encourage the fine grasses to develop deep rooting. Without doing this the shallow rooting grass species - which also happen to be the least suitable grasses for golf - are allowed to colonise and take over the sward. In general terms we are trying to present firm and consistent surfaces which have a dense cover of fine grasses. Our watering strategy is tailored with this in mind so please don't be surprised if surfaces get a bit brown in colour come mid summer, it will not mean the irrigation system is broken, we will merely be letting nature take it's course!

For more information on this topic please click on the title word IRRIGATION at the top of this post.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Broken Tee Pegs

The broken tee pegs picked up from the course today

In an attempt to keep the golf course as litter free as possible, we are aiming to address the issue of broken tee pegs. Every month we spend many hours picking up broken tee pegs from the tees. Not only do they look unsightly but they also knock the mowers off cut, potentially causing damage to the grass itself. To try to combat this one of the tee markers on each of the tees has been replaced with a tee caddy (see pic. above). It is hoped that all players will use the tee caddy to deposit their broken tee peg after they have played their shot thus maintaining a tidy appearance to teeing grounds and helping to keep our mowers sharp and correctly set to ensure minimum injury to the grass plant.

Friday, 13 March 2009

The Start Of A New Season

The start of a new season is almost upon us and the greenkeeping team are working hard preparing the course for the season ahead. One of the biggest challenges we have ahead of us is getting the new bunkers ready for play. When the bunkers were being refurbished in the winter some of the sand is removed and this now must be returned to the bunker. Before the sand goes back in it is screened to remove any debris then it is put in the bunker and shaped to form the ideal bunker base. Next it is compacted to try to reduce the likelihood of balls plugging in the sand then finally it is raked to provide the perfect finish.
All bunkers are raked on a daily basis, it takes around two hours each day and more if shaping work is carried out, add to this the weeding and cutting work that takes place and we soon find ourselves putting in well in excess of 1000 man hours of bunker maintenance annually. All this for an area of the golf course that everyone tries to avoid!