New USGA Greens at Buckingham Golf Club
By Laurence Gale MSc
Club members at the Buckingham Golf Club are looking forward to playing their brand new greens next spring. The club have just completed a major construction project replacing all their pushed up soil greens with new contoured USGA standard greens.
Peter Jones of P J Associates Ltd was appointed by the club to design the new greens and the surrounding features, with the emphasis of keeping the golf course open during the construction works. The project was quite unique in that all the construction works were completed during the main playing period April - October, making optimal use of the better weather and ground conditions expected at that time of the year.
To achieve this objective, new, large, temporary greens were groomed and prepared. These preparations began last year to allow for a full season's growth and maintenance to be achieved to bring them up to an acceptable level for play.
The club have made a substantial investment in building the new greens, but have considered the benefits that this work will achieve and the problems it has solved at the same time. The club had recognised that the old, soil, pushed up greens were in a poor state, drainage was poor, and many days of golf were being lost during wet periods, especially in the winter months. The old greens were quite small, and were predominantly flat and uninteresting, offering little challenge to the golf player. The new contoured greens not only offer more challenging putting surfaces but can be played on all year round.
The construction work was awarded to J & E Ely Ltd, a family run business that first started working on golf courses in the early 1960's. The work started on the 1st April with the aim of completing all the greens during a twenty week period, i.e. by the end of August. However, the programme ran over due to poor weather conditions and the final green was eventually completed in late September.
Not only have the greens been reconstructed but new bunkers and golf hazards have been added as well, enhancing the look and approaches to the new greens. The old bunkers, if kept, were stripped, shaped, drained and lined ready for the new sands. Additional bunkers were added to some of the fairways and around the new greens, and strategically positioned to create more difficult pin positions for competitions.
The construction of the greens entailed stripping off the old turf and stockpiling the top soil from the old greens for re-use to model the new green surrounds, approaches and collars. A complete set of new primary drains were installed at the base of each new green construction, followed by the installation of the drainage layers, rootzone materials and custom grown turf. All the greens, approaches and collars were turfed using Inturf's small rolled turf.
It also made commercial sense to upgrade and replace the existing pop up watering system whilst carrying out the construction works, so new fully automated pop up irrigation sprinkler heads were installed at every green, linking them into the existing mains system. A new irrigation ring main is earmarked for the future.
With all the major works completed the contractor is currently monitoring and repairing any snags that appear. The greens will be maintained and managed throughout the winter with an aim of getting them ready for play in May 2005.
Peter has been very happy with the way the project has come together and he achieved his aim of replacing the greens without too many problems and inconvenience to the members of the club.
This he puts down to good organisation, planning and communication between all parties involved - the club, members, project team, Greenkeepers and contractor, who have all worked extremely hard to achieve the aims of the project.
The work has certainty transformed the appearance of the course but more importantly will offer a tremendous golfing experience for present and future members for years to come.
Buckingham Golf Club
Tel : +44(0) 1280 813282 Fax : +44(0) 1280 821812