A successful trial of the Toro ProCore 648 has prompted High Post Golf Club in Salisbury, to review its maintenance programme and take the bold decision to get rid of its set maintenance weeks in favour of a new five-step process.
Peter Hickling, the Club's Manager, says: "What prompted us to review our processes was having a trial of the Toro ProCore 648. The finish of the ProCore compared to our previous machine was incredible; there was no turf lifting or displacement. We said to each other we have to buy this today!
"Soon after, the green-keeping team realised that if we coupled the ProCore with a Sweep and Fill we could implement a new five-step maintenance programme which would eliminate the need for our spring and autumn maintenance weeks all together."
'Maintenance Week' is the club's essential bi-annual event carried out to maintain the greens to their optimum and is generally undertaken just before and after the main playing season. Its purpose is to aid plant and soil health and recovery, prevent long-term damage and maintain turf performance in the short- to medium-term.
But while maintenance weeks were important, there were repercussions for the club and its members. Peter says: "Using the new five-step process rather than two bi-annual maintenance weeks creates an additional 10 days full course availability for members and income-earning opportunity for the club.
There are no play interruptions and productivity is improved. Plus, the condition of the course is so much better."
The club's acting head greenkeeper James Friend and Peter had reviewed the results of the previous years' maintenance weeks at High Post and together with Steve Gingell of the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) agreed the results weren't up to the standard the club demands.
In a nutshell the greens required more frequent aerating. Peter says: "We had the new equipment and we knew we needed to aerate more so we started looking into ways to achieve this. Now we begin by aerating the greens using the ProCore 648.
The depth to which the team tines is dependent on conditions, but sometimes it's up to four inches. Straight after this the ground is over-seeded using a tractor-mounted over-seeder.
Step three is top dressing using a spinning top dresser and step four is to use a Sweep and Fill double rotating brush to ensure the dressing disappears into the ground as quickly as possible. Finally, the ground is ready to be rolled using a turf iron."
In all, the process takes roughly eight hours, with all five greenkeepers. Because the club operates a two tee start, nine greens are processed early morning on day one, with the remaining nine completed on day two, all before the golfers start their rounds.
Peter comments: "We successfully trialled this process in the autumn of 2013 and have put it into process this spring. It has been a great example of how a review in processes can bring genuine benefits to all parts of our business."