Bradford Golf Club
By David Markham
Bradford Golf Club have solved a drainage problem on their three wettest greens by using a mole ploughing machine as part of a gravel banding exercise. Head greenkeeper David Thackray said: "The greens - 8, 10 and 18 - are always the first greens at our club to be replaced by temporaries when conditions are wet. We treated them in February and they are much improved. There is no water sitting on them like there used to be, but this winter will be the big test. They have settled down nicely. Golfers tell me they are better greens."
A firm called Sheltons used a mole ploughing machine with a hopper on the back. The mole plough went through the ground at a depth of 12 inches with the slits filled with lytag. Lytag is an after product at coal stations, it is pea size and very light.
"We put on about half a ton per green in straight lines, eight inches apart across the green using the fall of the land and the water permeates through these lines, " said David. "The only downside is that you can get a corrugated effect and the ground becomes very bumpy but, if you do it in the wettest part of the year like we did, you can avoid the corrugated effect. By June the greens had settled down and we had some good positive feedback from the golfers. The next five or six months will tell, but I am quite confident that it will improve the greens. I am just hoping this work will bring them in line with the other greens."
David and his staff are also tackling a drainage problem using an Imants Shattermaster. He said: "We've got some wet patches on the fairways which we will be re-draining. For de-compacting we have got an Imats Shattermaster which knocks the soil sideways and breaks it up. It attaches to the back of a 50hp tractor. There are three blades on each block and there are five blocks. Breaking up the soil produces a longer root depth on the fairways.
"It is the second year we have used the Shattermaster. It was a success last year and I am looking to see another improvement this year. We are all fighting compaction and this is helping us to improve the situation by getting rid of the problem and getting rid of thatch. I believe the key to greenkeeping is aeration."
David and his staff have been busy over the last year or so renovating tees. He said: "We have completed our project on the tees - we worked on all but the first hole. We worked on the men's tees or the ladies tees or both at the various holes - the members seem to be satisfied. Some of the tees were enlarged and levelled, drained and re-turfed."
"Unfortunately this season we have been having problems with the irrigation system. We have had several leaks, but because the irrigation system was put in before my time in charge we don't have plans as to where the pipes are. We are losing water, but we haven't identified all the leaks We have been talking to some irrigation experts. The pipes are glued together. They have been in so long they are beginning to weep. We have spent 12 months trying to find the leaks but we have not been successful, there are several small leaks which produce a trickle rather than one large leak. We were quoted nearly £50,000 for a new irrigation system, but we have not gone ahead with it yet."
"We work with a review group at the club. It was set up about five years ago to plan our work on the course, and decide where we want to go in the future. It has worked very well and we have completed most of the work we wanted, despite the fact that I have worked with one member of staff short for most of the year."