Wisley finally completes its re-surfacing programme.
By David Whitaker MG
The Wisley is a relatively new golf club and has always strived to achieve the highest possible standard of excellence. Greens were initially seeded with Penncross however, despite regular hand weeding Poa annua encroached at an alarming rate eventually detracting from the quality of the playing surface. In its search for excellence, following lengthy membership communication, the club embarked on an ambitious programme to change the grass type on all greens.
The Golf course consists of three loops of 9 holes each with its own individual character. The greens on the Garden and Church nine were re-surfaced in 1990 and 1991 respectively with the Mill nine being completed during December 2002. Fortunately the layout of the course allows us the flexibility to close 9 holes during the winter leaving the remaining 18 open for play.
Although not constructed to USGA specifications, the greens have performed well so our challenge has been to strip turf and replace with the desirable species.
Whilst removing and relaying turf is generally a simple task, the work on Wisley greens was far more detailed and involved the following sequence:
- Perimeter edges of the greens were accurately located as defined by the Architect at the time of original construction. The greens are built from a special root zone mix so probing the ground provided an easy method of finding the original confines of the green.
- Turf was mechanically cut to a depth of 60mm to ensure not only the removal of turf, but the complete removal of fibre and thatch, accumulated over the past 10 years.
- A second layer was then removed from any water holding areas where thatch had accumulated to a greater depth.
- A smooth surface was then prepared utilising manual rakes and "true-lutes".
- Contour levels were finally checked with a laser level to ensure that no water holding pockets were left in the greens before final preparation for turfing.
- Turf was then removed from the immediate green surrounds to a depth of 20mm and re-graded to match the final contours of the new green.
- Creeping bentgrass turf (Penn A4) was then carefully installed on the prepared surfaces. (approximately 6,000m2 of turf was used, being ordered 6 months in advance and "custom grown" to Wisley's own specification).
- The new turf was finally rolled, before application of a compound fertiliser and fungicide treatment.
Root initiation was rapid during the month of December although establishment has been hindered by January's cold weather. Mowing height is currently at a bench setting of 5mm and we shall aim to reduce the height to 3mm by mid April when the greens will be brought back in to play.