New gravel banding for Bradford GC

David Markhamin Golf

New gravel banding drainage for Bradford GC

By David Markham

Bradford Golf Club are introducing a new drainage system using the gravel banding method.

The club will create gravel bands on five of their wettest greens throughout the autumn and winter months which will result in members using alternative greens at certain times.

Head groundsman, David Thackray, who is also secretary of the northern section of the Greenkeepers Association, said that gravel banding involved cutting into the greens every three metres using a coulter disc and a vibrating stainless steel channel opener to create a channel cut to a depth of 350mm. The channel is then backfilled with a permeable material called lytag and this fills this up to the level of the greens.

"Each channel is about 15mm wide and at 400mm spacing. We make these channels down to the drain according to the fall of the land. Each green will be banded to the lowest point and will then have an exit drain installed to pick up the water if it is necessary.

The lytag permeable material used is unique; it is 75 per cent lighter than gravels and is frost resistant, disease and growth free and has a neutral PH with an ability to absorb 40 per cent of its weight in moisture. The product rapidly disperses surface water, reducing the risk of the trench opening up in dry weather. The whole process will take four days."

David adds: "Various golf clubs in our area have already had gravel banding carried out on their greens and they have all seen improvement in their water movement and drainage. There will be some disruption to play when this process is being carried out but the greens will be playable immediately afterwards.

Some corrugating of the surface is inevitable as there is no material removed from the greens and about five tons of material added. The corrugating effect will improve as time passes and the benefits will far outweigh the negatives because we will see much drier and firmer greens throughout the winter months with less time on alternative greens due to waterlogged conditions.

The greens that are being treated are those that are shut down in the winter if they are too wet. We are trying to give the golfers a longer season. We are going to do the work when the greens are very wet - this is what we have been advised to do.

I am also looking for new bore holes to improve the irrigation system. Starting in August we have a firm coming in to re-construct several men's tees - there are ten or 12 tees to do. There will be some upset for the members until March or April. Then, we have some ladies tees to do next season."

Bradford are also in the course of a three year bunker programme, and David says: "We audited the whole course before we started. We asked members what they wanted and we asked the architects to come in and give their view of what they would like to see at the golf course. We have taken out some bunkers, added some new bunkers and made some bunkers smaller, which makes them more manageable for maintenance. We have also put some new sand into the bunkers to bring them back into play. The course looks better for this bunker programme.

Some of the bunker work has been done by outside contractors and we still have some to be done by ourselves during the coming winter. It will form part of our winter project next winter. We have about half a dozen to do. It is a continuous programme.

We have done a self maintenance programme - coring and top dressing and we have overseeded as well. I have had some good response from all our work. I don't hear anything from members so our work must be all right. I only hear bad things from members!"

David is looking for new machinery in the next two to three months that he can buy for early next season. He said: "I am looking to buy a verti-drain to deal with compaction on the greens, fairways and walkways. It will cost more than £20,000 - I usually spend between £20,000 and £30,000 on new machinery.

I usually have someone in to do the verti-draining for a couple of days at a cost of more than £1,000. The new machine sounds like a good investment because it will increase the amount of ground I can treat for compaction."

David is also busy doing a health and safety audit involving risk assessments, control of substances, hazards and public rights of way. A couple of footpaths on the course have been upgraded to bridleways so David and his staff have horses to cope with along with mountain bikes.

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