Budget drainage at Bradford
By David Markham
Bradford Golf Club's head green keeper David Thackray is presiding over a five-year plan of work on the course.
David, who has been on the staff since 1985 and head green keeper since 1990, said: "The plan, which starts in July, has been worked out between myself, club members and the board of the club. We have asked members to tell us what areas they would like to improve - tees, bunkers and more drainage work.
"We have spent £40,000 on drains in the last three or four years. Contractors are coming in to do more drainage work. We are doing some drainage work next year; half of the tee work and the year after that, the drainage will be completed.
"The club is 110 years old and we still have the old stone drains and it's long over due to renew them. I don't see that we have a major problem but with the heavy rainfall of the last three winters the water hasn't got away fast enough. Every golfer here wants to play 365 days and if we get the water away quickly we get more golfers playing."
The club, which is based at the village of Hawksworth near Guiseley, is one of the biggest in Bradford with 720 members and is on sloping land with commanding views of Baildon Moor.
David said: "The lie of the land is fine. It slopes away. We occasionally close the course, roughly half a dozen times a year, and we put the golfers on temporary greens and make them carry bags rather than pull trolleys.
There are 65 bunkers and over the last 30 to 40 years since they were last done, they have got bigger. So, we shall be re-shaping them and making them smaller. If you leave bunkers they just creep outwards. Everyone pulls sand towards them when they rake a bunker and so the bunkers just get bigger and bigger. Every year I put in 50 tons of sand to top them up.
If I can reduce the amount of sand I need to top up the bunkers every year then that will help the ecology and environment.
Golf clubs have to play a big part in conservation. Golf courses are ideal places to preserve birds and we have a policy to use bird boxes and feeders on the course.
We had a wet spell from January into mid-February and then there was a very dry spell in April. Although it was dry it was also very cold so it has been difficult to get the grass to grow and produce a reasonable surface in these conditions.
On the last weekend in April we had the Hawksworth Trophy, which is a prestigious event with Yorkshire county selectors there to check on form. To get the course ready for that we had to push to promote growth and you can't force nature, but I thought the course was in good condition after that event and we had some favourable comments from competitors.
I am not a big believer in irrigation. I have soil-based greens so while soil temperatures are low it isn't good to water.
We micro tined in May to produce very small holes on the green to assist aeration. I do that once a year and I also hollow tine. We have had a big hollow tine programme over the last five years. We now have a more sandy-based root zone instead of the clay root zone we had before.
I get contractors in to do the hollow tining. If I did that myself it would mean taking the staff off other duties. The staff do the top dressing and the over seeding. That used to take three days. Now it takes one day. We vertidrain the greens once a year and we also get in contractors to do that.
We use Toro Workmen fitted with sprayers, slitters and top dressers and we have also bought three new hand mowers at £4,500 each. One good development that has happened in recent years to help the staff and I, is the decision to build new premises for us. These new facilities are used to store machinery and equipment and provide an office and mess room for all of us."