Draining The Lakes

Jim Crabbein Golf

MoorAllerton2.jpgMoor Allerton Golf Club, situated between Leeds and Harrogate, was designed by Robert Trent Jones Senior in the 1960s. The club professionals have included Peter Allis and Howard Clarke.

Changes and improvements are not taken lightly so, when wet areas of the course needed addressing, White Horse Contractors were called in to carry out the remedial work.

Contracts Manager, Jim Crabbe, explains how the first phase, drainage to six holes on the Lakes Course, has been carried out successfully.

Moor Allerton Golf Club is situated outside the village of Wike, between Leeds and Harrogate. The course, created in the 1960s by Robert Trent Jones Senior, utilises 220 acres of rolling and undulating Yorkshire countryside. Three loops of nine holes wind through wooded slopes and valleys to create the Lakes, Blackmoor and High courses.

The club has been the venue for many prestigious competitions; Peter Allis was club professional here for a number of years as was six times Ryder Cup player Howard Clark.

Changes and improvements to the course are, therefore, not undertaken lightly but, with increasing demand on the three courses and requirements for all year round availability, some treatment became a necessity.

The current management team of Head Greenkeeper, Marcus Oakley, Club Manager, Richard Crann and Chairman of Greens, Johnny Ellis, set out to produce a planned course of improvements to the three loops of nine holes. The aim was to ensure that the highest standards of play could be maintained throughout the year giving members and visitors the best surface possible to play on.

Part of the assessment carried out by the team was to identify areas of the course that, in the wetter months (take your pick these days), quickly caused problems to play and also to maintenance.

With the undulating heavy Yorkshire ground some area could quickly become boggy, impassable to machinery and with fairways becoming prone to plugging. These became maintenance black spots, having to be left behind for drier days, thus quality of play and presentation suffered as the winter progressed.MoorAllerton1.jpg

Having identified the worst areas on the three nine hole loops, the club looked to experienced and proven drainage contractors White Horse Contractors (Northern), based near Thirsk in North Yorkshire, to provide and present ideas to tackle the drainage issues.

Preliminary meetings were held with the club to discuss the particular problem areas already identified by the staff, as well as methods of draining, machinery to be used, timescale, materials and timing of the works. It was very important for the club to understand the practicalities of having a contractor on site in terms of access, health and safety (both from the contractor and the club's viewpoint), programme of hole closures or reconfiguring, spoil handling and, most importantly, timing of the works. Most clubs prefer work to be carried out between October and April when the course is quiet, whereas contractors want to be on the ground from April to October when days are longer and conditions on the ground allow quicker, neater work.

It was equally important for White Horse to understand the requirements of the club, their expectation in terms of drainage performance and any constraints that the club might necessarily place on the execution of the works, such as hours of work, particular days when all holes must be open, access routes, spoil and material tip areas.

The essence was that both sides should, as far as possible, know what to expect from the other and that an achievable, realistic course of action be agreed on.

Following on from this discussion a number of fairways were identified as being at the top of the list to be treated. These holes were surveyed and a draft drainage design presented to the club.

Once the design had been considered and it had been agreed by all that areas of concern had been addressed, costs were finalised, the order placed and a commencement date pencilled in.

As with all members clubs it is very important that the members are made aware of the nature of works to be undertaken, the level of disruption and the future benefits of the treatment to their course. White Horse prepared an information poster for the club detailing the company, the machinery to be used, the areas of work and why the work was required.

These posters were placed around the club and proved very useful in keeping all concerned informed.

The order of work was agreed with the club and work commenced in August 2007. The drainage design set out to address two issues; the flow of surface water on to fairways or high traffic areas and the removal of surface water from high value areas such as approaches and landing areas.

Moor Allerton is set in rolling ground and the natural slopes of the course shed water to the valley floor. The flows cross high traffic areas, from tee to fairway and across fairways. One design requirement was, therefore, to cut off or reduce this flow before it reached the areas of concern.

Drainage was placed to the high side of fairways, in the form of cut off/collector drains, and at the head of gullies and small valleys that crossed areas of concern. Fairways and approaches had lateral drains installed at close spacing to allow for rapid removal of surface water. It should be noted that on undulating fairway surfaces it is more important that drainage laterals are placed to address problem areas rather than to stick rigidly to a spacing. With this in mind drainage was set out and agreed with the Head Greenkeeper before work commenced.

In general, fairway laterals were constructed to an average depth of 550mm and trenches were formed using a Mastenbroek trencher fitted with laser levelling equipment, ensuring that falls were kept constant. The use of laser levelling kit is critical where fairways are undulating or have remnants of older rig and furrow drainage systems. The laser level will ensure that the bed of the trench has a constant fall regardless of surface undulations.

The trencher is fitted with an elevator that removes excavation spoil directly in to following dumpers to be taken to the designated tip areas. The dumpers are fitted with low ground pressure tyres to minimise the impact on fine turf sward.

As the trench was formed, perforated land drainage pipe was introduced and placed on the graded bed. Having checked that no spoil had fallen on to the drainpipe, 6-10mm aggregate was metered in to the trench utilising a bespoke backfilling hopper. This self propelled machine runs on low ground pressure tyres that help to minimise compaction and wear on the fine turf grass areas.

The aggregate was then covered in a grit-blinding layer and topped to the surface with a 70:30 sand soil rootzone. Care was taken to ensure that materials used for the construction of the drains met industry standards as laid down by the LDCA and published recommendations for backfill materials.
Lateral drains were connected to larger diameter main drains constructed to the same specification as above. The mains system removes drainage water to a positive discharge, such as existing ditches or streams or, if not possible, to soakaways.

Head Greenkeeper, Marcus Oakley, said, "As one of the premier golf courses in the north of England, Moor Allerton is making a substantial investment into improving its already revered 27 hole course. As part of the overall development we decided to improve the drainage of the course. The first phase of works was completed in September 2007 and has been a complete success. We are particularly impressed with the professional approach which White Horse adopted with regard to keeping members informed and by paying exceptional attention to leaving our course clean and tidy with minimal disturbance. We look forward to working with them on the next phases of this project."

Article Tags: