Broomieknowe Golf Club at Bonnyrigg, Mid Lothian, has welcomed a new golf course manager, a host of new members and some top-rated maintenance equipment, all in the space of a few months.
Allan Duncan joined the parkland club in April from Thornton GC, Glenrothes. BIGGA Scottish student of the year in 2018, he has literally hit the ground running, getting to know the new course intimately as quickly as he can, and launching initiatives on social media to better connect the efforts of the greenkeeping team with club members.
"I'm loving it but there's so much to get my head round," he said. "People have been very welcoming. We have a brand-new club house and the club has invested heavily purchasing new equipment, so there's a lot of momentum."
First to arrive was a Wiedenmann Terra Spike XP8 deep aerator combined with an ISEKI TG6675 compact tractor.
"The ISEKI tractor was introduced to us by Rob Hogarth from our local dealer, Fairways GM at Kinross. I've never had an ISEKI but I am really impressed. The aerator is a heavy bit of kit but the TG6675 lift capacity is up to 1,600 kg so has no trouble at all. Together they are quite a combination."
Their selected Terra Spike, the XP, is Wiedenmann UK's biggest in fleet, chosen because of its readiness to go 40 cm deep.
"It was all purely about depth," continued Allan. "We've a build-up of organic matter deep down on some greens and a bit of compaction in some of our fairways. There are actually very good soils below the surface but to tap into these, we need the aerator to get air and water through the profile a lot quicker.
"It had been reasonably dry until I arrived, but once the ground got softer, we went out on the greens with 12 mm tines along with the turf retainers. The greens have reacted well to them. Water has gone down, not just through the top profile but permeated through the bottom profile, and already I can see a difference. The plan is to keep that going every month right through the summer as disruption to surface is minimal."
"The wider programme is to do tees and approaches at the end of the season, so September, and then spike the fairways before winter arrives. The speed of the XP8 is impressive. I've used the GXi8 HD before and everyone says how quick it is, but the XP8 is no slouch. We had no expectation of speed as we were searching for depth … but a hectare of greens took around nine hours, so it's great to be able to complete all 18 greens in a day."
Four weeks later, a delivery of the Maredo MT200 Flex-Verticutter arrived for the Lothian club. Even on the most challenging of fairway undulations they are falter-free thanks to a turn-able 'A' frame and pivot point. Each head measures just over 63 cm giving a total reach of 1.9 m with working to depths of around 25 mm.
"The Maredos were another easy decision," said Allan. "While relieving compaction with the Terra Spike on the fairways, the next stage is to follow through with scarifying. The idea is to remove the organic matter, breaking surface tension to help get rid of less desirable broad leaf grasses and encourage the finer ones to flourish. This leaves a better habitat for the finer grasses to grow. I really appreciate the adaptability of the Maredos with their three cassettes lined up in a V-formation, as opposed to a straight unit. They are at one with the tractor and even in just an hour cover large areas. The course is fairly flat, except for a few undulating holes with numerous dips and bumps, yet wherever they are, they hug the course, don't scalp or pull out too much. One spanner adjustment and away you go. They will improve the texture and quality significantly. All main playing surfaces (except greens) will be done twice a year with the Maredos with maybe the approaches getting three hits, depending on the weather."
"When it comes to choosing machinery, I find you always have a strong idea of what to seek but it's good when others bring additional knowledge. Both the Fairways GM and Wiedenmann teams support you intuitively and direct you to what will work in your situation and machines that are appropriate. I feel entirely supported throughout. No stone has been left unturned trying to help us get what we need. Even the BAGMA accredited installation training at handover is a nice touch. My team and I all benefited and not every dealer ensures such good practice."
Rob Hogarth, Fairways GM's Regional Manager said:
"The BAGMA Installation Scheme, is developed in conjunction with the Health & Safety Executive. Everyone in our sales and installer team has been trained to handover using a systematic process. Our team in turn replicate this initiative to our customers, covering things like site specific risk assessments and working in a safe environment. If clients' teams attend the session given by one of the Fairways GM team, they receive a record of attendance and so does their employer. Allan and his team have found it very worthwhile."