Ridge and furrow fairway demands innovative solution

Carol Duttonin Golf


Howley H 61.jpg

Howley Hall, just south of Leeds is built on the site of what is reputed to be the biggest Tudor manor house in the north of England. Although the original Hall, protected by English Heritage and little more than a romantic ruin, stands clear of the course, features from the estate such as the contours of the once formal garden and the raised walkways, form very much a part of it, and integrate easily into the landscape. The old ridge and furrow drainage system on the 9th fairway however was causing surface water problems, which dictated the closure of 3 holes, the 7th, 8th and 9th for approximately three months during the winter.

"Our last dryish winter was 1999," recalls head greenkeeper Mike Bussey, who since his arrival at the club has become so involved in the area's history that he now helps run the local Young Archaeologist group. "From 2000 onwards it's been wet, and the last couple of winters have been extremely wet. This course is over 100 years old and built on a predominantly clay base with odd pockets of shale, sand and heavier clay which are the spoils from the Morley railway tunnel built from the early to mid 1800s. When it rained, water collected very quickly in the bottom of the furrows on the 9th fairway and puddled. We think we had drains under here, which had collapsed over the years and the main outlet for the 9th had completely blocked causing flooding onto the semi rough. Surface water on this fairway just wasn't getting away."

"Normally we use sand slitting to solve surface water problems," explains James Pugh-Lewis, whose company was contracted to do the job, "and pipe drainage to reduce the water table below ground. But in this case, the ridge and furrow surface was so predominant that we had to come up with an alternative solution. We installed piped slits, a combination of both methods along each furrow. At 75mm wide and 400mm deep with 60mm diameter pipes, these allow us to give a high level of surface drainage and move water to the outfall quickly."

In order to overcome critical tension, and achieve maximum surface water percolation, Pugh-Lewis back filled deeper than usual using 200mm of selected coarse sand overlying 6mm gravel.

All in all, the company used a total of 2,400 metres of pipe on the 9th fairway, in an operation that took just under two weeks to complete.

"They had the weather on their side," remembers Mike Bussey, "and they've done a thoroughly professional job. I can already see a dramatic improvement and our 7th, 8th and 9th holes should now stay open all year."

For further information on the drainage services of J Pugh-Lewis, contact the company on Tel: 01773 872362 or visit their website at: www.pugh-lewis.co.uk

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