Set in an area of outstanding natural beauty in Berkshire, Goring and Streatley Golf Club offers a testing 18 holes over a half downland and half parkland course. Despite the challenges this brings to Course Manager Matt Aplin and his team when it comes to maintenance, the greens are renowned for being fast, true and in great condition all year round. The combination of a Redexim Carrier and Verti-Drain 1513 from Charterhouse Turf Machinery is the latest weapon in Matt's armoury to improve the greens, tees and approaches even further.
"Though we have quite a large machinery fleet, we only have one tractor" explains Matt, who heads up a team of six greenkeepers. "This meant when it came to greens maintenance, if we were using the tractor to hollow tine, we then couldn't topdress on the same day as the tractor was tied up. Fundamentally this restricted us being able to conduct some operations, especially aeration, as much as we'd like to." Matt spoke to his local dealer Lister Wilder, who demonstrated a number of power unit and aerator combinations. "With a lot of the competitor machines, the aerator was limited to 4" penetration depths, whereas the Verti-Drain could go down to 6", making a big difference to root depths, along with creating heave." They took delivery of the Carrier and Verti-Drain 1513 in combination early last year.
As well as easing the strain on the club's tractor, another key factor for the purchase was to use a lighter weight unit on the greens. "It's simple to use, safer being outside the cab and more efficient for the team than navigating the tractor with a heavy spiker on the back around the hills on our course." Though a number of machines can be connected to the Carrier, for Matt it is being used solely for aeration, and has already conducted upwards of 220 hours of aeration at the club. "We used to pencil tine the greens four or five times a year, that's now 10 or 12 times. Our tees and approaches were aerated very infrequently, they're now being done six times a year. That equates to a 200% increase on our previous aeration programme."
That increase isn't unnoticed by members who are commenting on the knock-on improvements in green and tee conditions. "We have four greens that are built on pure clay and can lay very wet. The massive increase in aeration, and more frequent topdressing has meant these are drier than they've ever been. It shows us that our cultural practices are working, and that'll hopefully only continue to improve as the years go on."