At more than 100 years old, Kent's St Augustine's Golf Club has changed a lot over those years and is now a long way away from the grazing land that once occupied its 60 acre site. However, the pop-up greens, on original clay soil, used to cause Head Greenkeeper Gary Kennington and his team a headache when it came to topdressing and drainage. That was until the club discovered the benefits of the Graden Contour Sand Injection (CSI) unit, which has helped to improve water dispersal and greens speed, all with minimum surface disruption
"Though we're not strictly a links course, as there's a road between the club and the Kent coast, we do still have to deal with the climatic challenges our location brings" explains Gary. "One year in particular, going back now 7 years, the weather meant the usual tactic of tining and topdressing wasn't getting sand down into the greens as well as the team hoped. At the time the Graden CSI was a relatively new concept in the UK so we hired a unit and quickly realised that it could really help."
The Graden CSI is a 3-in-1 verti-cutter with the ability to aerate, scarify and remove thatch to any depth between 1mm-40mm, whilst simultaneously backfilling the grooves with either sand or a combination of sand and seed. Its ability to conduct multiple jobs in one pass reduces play downtime without causing any detrimental effect to the firmness of the ground. "With this CSI you're getting the sand into the green, rather the putting it on the top, allowing you to get greens back into play in as little as half an hour."
Gary and his team now use the CSI on all 18 greens twice a year and continue to see marked improvements. "From the very first use we reduced the thatch content of the greens and worked the sand down into the soil profile which helped with drainage and greens speed. With it being a pedestrian unit, we have great manoeuvrability and it means we can still go out and use it in conditions that may not always be ideal. Should we need that little extra advice or support we now have John Fitzpatrick of Charterhouse Turf Machinery who is great to have at the end of the phone."