6 Technical expertise helps keep St David's Golf Course in top condition

When the likes of Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallagher comments: "It is no exaggeration to say that Royal St David's is one of the finest courses in the world," then you know that it must be something truly special.

Royal St David The club itself - established more than a 100 years ago - is surrounded by spectacular scenery. To the north is a mountain range including Snowdon and, far closer, are the imposing lines of Harlech Castle, built some seven centuries ago.

Keeping one of the world's greatest courses in 'tip-top' condition is the overall responsibility of Club Secretary David Morkill. He says: "The course is low-lying, with a section of it just two feet above sea level, so the water table is never far away. As a result, following a drought, the fairways recover quite quickly.

"If there's heavy rain, incorporated with a high tide table, some water logging may result," he said. However, irrigation experts Osprey Irrigation overcame this potential problem by using special compression fittings on the pipework, instead of standard uPVC or fuse weld fittings - neither of which are suitable to install in underwater conditions. Now all pipe work around the green is MDPe.

Mr. Morkill says: "We first got to know Osprey when we experienced difficulties with our pump. Neither the company that installed it, nor others that we had approached, really understood it.

"However, one of our club members - a former Water Authority employee - suggested that we contacted Osprey. This we did and they have done an excellent job of sorting out the problem. Such was their approach that it encouraged us to commission them to undertake other work on our behalf.

Osprey managing director Jon Jinks takes up the story. "We overcame the pumping difficulties by installing a fully variable speed bespoke pumping station at the heart of the system. This overcame the watering problems that had been experienced by the ground staff on the greens and tees; and the system has the capacity to meet all future requirements.

"The variable speed facility employs transducers, which detect the flow of water required, to increase or decrease the pump speed accordingly."

Mr. Morkill added: "Over the past three years we have worked with Osprey to gradually update our original systems. The whole irrigation structure was more than 25 years old and probably not designed for this course - it was more likely that a standard system had been fitted and more suited to a smaller course. Since then, loops and rings have been added, as well as a main, to improve efficiency.

"Osprey recommended that our sprinkler control system needed sorting out first. Therefore, in March 2005, we commissioned them to replace our old TW2 control system with a Toro Gemini central control water management system. This pc controlled kit enabled us to increase the number of sprinklers incorporated onto the course, with the additional bonus of individual sprinkler head control.

"We then updated the sprinkler system on five of the greens and were so pleased with the result that the remaining 13 were updated the following year. Osprey installed new Toro valve in head sprinklers on all greens and approaches, and renewed the pipework around each green.

"The work undertaken by Osprey around the greens was extremely well done by very efficient teams that knew exactly what was required. The new sprinklers are modern in every sense of the word and, with the new systems in place, we are able to switch them on or off independently of each other; allowing us to select whether all, or part of a green, needs to be watered.

Then, just before Xmas 2005, Osprey installed a water recycling facility. Their biological wastewater treatment system turns organic contaminants - oil, grease, herbicides and pesticides into carbon dioxide and water.

The system is designed to handle equipment wash-water for 18 or 36 hole golf courses. "We are delighted with it," says Mr. Morkill, who added: "this will ensure that we do not accidentally pollute the nearby stream and ensures we comply with the 1998 Groundwater Act."

Comments Jon Jinks: "This system needs lower maintenance than any other recycle system on the market today, is very low-cost to run and simple to operate."

He added: The many tournaments played at St. David's over the years include: five Ladies Championships, nine sets of Home International Matches (Ladies, Men and Boys), 11 Welsh Amateur Championships and Welsh Ladies Championships; the first four Wales Senior Opens on the PGA European Senior Tours, two Club Professional Championships, the Seniors, Boys and Youths Amateur Championships.

Four "Open" champions are on the honours board in the Clubhouse: John Ball, Harold Hilton, James Braid, and Sandy Lyle.

Concludes Jon Jinks: "For us, it is an honour to work on such a wonderful golf course with a resplendent history of hosting prestigious gold tournaments."

For further information please contact Jon Jinks at Osprey Irrigation on 01939 236677 or 07974 423888
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Contact Kerry Haywood

07973 394037

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