Turfmech Clears up fast at the Worcestershire Golf Club
By Mike Bird
One of the first Turfmech TM1 walk-behind vacuum collectors to be supplied in the UK is helping reduce by more than 50 per cent the time and staff needed to de-thatch the greens at the Worcestershire Golf Club.
Working in the wake of a walk-behind Graden scarifier/aerator, the TM1 uses a combination of rotating brush and powerful vacuum to collect and deposit the resulting surface debris into its 0.65 cu metre hydraulically-tipped hopper. After a swift mowing, the greens can be returned immediately to play, helping minimise the use of temporary greens while producing a steady improvement in the condition of all putting surfaces.
Nestling peacefully in the lee of the Malvern Hills, the Worcestershire Golf Club was founded in 1879, making it the oldest club in the county and one of the five oldest in England.
Although a number of the greens on the parkland course have been rebuilt over the past 50 years, six date back to the early years of the last century and owe their shape and layout to Dr Alister Mackenzie.
Known world-wide for designing golf courses that mimic the natural features of seaside links courses, Dr Mackenzie's name will be forever associated with the large, two-tiered greens with undulating surfaces that encouraged the retention of natural rain water long before the days of pop-up irrigation systems made watering a doddle.
While offering a challenging finish to their respective holes, the Mackenzie greens at the Worcestershire Golf Club have no underlying drainage system, resulting in the build-up over the years of compaction and thatch which is now being actively tackled by head greenkeeper Graeme Clarkson and his staff.
Although it is the oldest greens that demand the greatest attention, on-going remedial work is deemed necessary also on the other greens around a golf course that hosts close to 60,000 rounds a year.
"We've had the Graden since spring 2003 and have used it twice a year at depths of 32 to 38mm, depending on the green and its condition," explained Graeme. "Previously, it took five men around five days to complete the work across all 19 greens. There was one man on the Graden, two with back-pack blowers and two picking up and disposing of the removed thatch. Following the arrival this spring of the new TM1, we are able to finish the job in two days using just two men."
Graeme pointed out that regular spring and autumn de-thatching treatments form part of an annual greens maintenance programme involving monthly slitting, bi-monthly deep tine aeration and "little, but often" top dressings (70% sand, 30% soil), applied by a Turfmech ProPass 180 top dresser supplied, like the TM1, through local dealer, Parks and Grounds of Bidford on Avon.
The result has produced firmer, faster, freer-draining greens with improved grass growth and resistance to wear.
"Like any vacuum, the TM1 works best in dry conditions when it is capable of removing around a cubic metre of scarified thatch very thoroughly from each green," commented Graeme. "We like the fact that the TM1 is British-designed and built, it is easy to use and saves us a great deal of time and effort on a routine but very necessary job. Its abilities will be put to good use also clearing debris from the car park and collecting fallen leaves from awkward areas."
● For more information on the TM1 and Turfmech Machinery, please visit www.turfmech.co.uk