Our course manager Chris has recently returned from a few days in Germany visiting one of the John Deere factories.
Although the majority of the equipment we use on the golf course is manufactured in the USA the principles and processes are the same at this agricultural tractor factory.
The factory visit was nothing short of staggering, a real insight into how these machines are put together. From start to finish it takes just 12 hours to build one and, if required, the factory workers can produce 240 in a single day which gives some idea of the demand for tractors worldwide.
The scale of the operation is hard to describe but you can see the attention to detail at every step.
In addition to seeing the machines being built there was also a visit to the European parts distribution centre. Here we were introduced to the procedures involved in guaranteeing that we the golf course receive any spare part we require by 9am the day after ordering. The centre is vast and stocks almost every conceivable part, the level of organisation is beyond belief but then it has to be with literally tens of thousands of different items stacked on shelves up to 17m tall.
There were also short seminars on John Deere as a company detailing how it began and how it grew into one of the largest brands in the world today.
We were also shown some of the new turf equipment both golf related and some for more commercial purposes.
The stars of the show though were the enormous agricultural machines.
Here Chris is standing next to a 900hp forage harvester which could make a useful rough mower in the future at Scotscraig. At a cost of around €640,000 however it might prove tricky to justify to Council…
A short video clip showing how the vertidrain helps us relieve soil compaction.
One of our greenstaff has just returned from a week of tournament support at the Phoenix Open in Arizona.
Volunteering at large competitions presents several benefits. These include meeting many new people and contacts, seeing different ideas and methods of doing things and last of all it helps in building a good CV for the future.
It will be interesting to hear about the differences given the slight difference in climate between Fife and Arizona!
While Michael was away he took the opportunity to visit other places including other golf courses, stadiums and sportsgrounds.
It is rare to leave trips like this without improved knowledge and creation of new friendships.
The new bunkers on the course are nearing completion.
1 new bunker has been put in on the left of the 11th fairway and 4 new bunkers are in at the 16th. This includes 2 drive bunkers and 2 approach bunkers one of which is pictured here.
The bunkers are built and the turf has been relayed around the tops.
We are in the process of filling them with sand to get them in play as soon as possible.
It should be noted that while the bunker is in play the surrounding turfed area will be whitelined and set as Ground Under Repair.
The deeper, solid tine aeration reserved for the winter months was completed without any issues.
As seen in the picture above the amount of compaction relief is considerable. The machine essentially drives forks into the rootzone which then pivot slightly to lift the rootzone uniformly. This action is called ‘heave’ and can be adjusted on the machine to give a greater or lesser effect.
While we want to relieve as much compaction as possible it is easy to overdo the heave effect and cause more harm than good.
There are several benefits to this process which include improved water percolation, improved gas exchange, creation of soil fractures for root development and, coupled with rolling, removal of bumps and depressions in the surfaces.
Disruption was minimal given that the machine was working to a depth of 11″. The greens were double rolled straight behind to reinstate the surfaces.
It can be a very slow task and as a result there were a few early starts, not ideal in winter…
Work is underway in several areas of the course to clear long rough and scrub.
The clearance is concentrating on lost ball hotspots and carries from tee to fairway for the timebeing.
We cut everything down with a heavy duty flail mower before returning with a smaller flail collector to lift and remove the debris. The flail will cut everything down from grass to small gorse and broom plants.
The collector compacts the material as it picks it up allowing us to load it into trailers for removal much more easily.
By continually repeating this process each season we will promote less dense, wispy roughs and reduce the chance of lost balls/slow play.
We can also use graminicides to spray out the coarse grasses as the rough regenerates and further improve playing conditions.
Work to renovate the drain lines on the 11th green has recently been completed.
We started by cutting the turf above the drains and laying it to the side to replace later.
The sand used as backfill previously was dug out by hand and taken away.
The sand is actually crushed sandstone and is made up of mostly square shaped particles. These sit close together and provide very little pore space for water to percolate through.
We removed the pipe and rinsed it out ready to put back in. While the pipe was out we took the opportunity to check the levels of the drain and found the central section was flat with virtually no fall and the back third was actually running the wrong way. This was rectified and the pipe replaced.
We replaced the pipe and filled the trench with 10mm gravel leaving 6″ for rootzone at the top. The gravel was firmed up before the rootzone was added and heeled in as firmly as possible. The centre on the drain line has been left fractionally proud intentionally to allow for the inevitable settling of material.
The rootzone is a mix of 80% sand and 20% soil which will allow water to drain through to the gravel but at the same time hold on to enough moisture in summer to avoid the drain lines burning out.
We then replaced the turf and tied it all in before brushing and blowing the green to clear any spillages of gravel and rootzone.
The drain lines were then carefully rolled to smooth out any bumps.
It is important to remember that the material used in the drain lines is completely different to the rest of the green. As a result the drain lines will always be visible to a degree.
What we have now however is a functioning drainage system which can be added to over time creating a lattice of extra channels which will quickly and efficiently remove surface water.