Years ago these would have been called 'winter projects' but greenkeepers and golf clubs are learning that carrying out work when the weather is awful and trying to move large amounts of soil and equipment around the course has a detrimental effect with more damage being caused than good.
So for this blog I m going to give a little update in the drainage works carried out to the 17th and 15th fairways.
This project was the start of a very busy few months for the Greenkeeping team and the club as a whole. It's probably the busiest period for many years with regards to works on the course.
Last winter I got to see for the first time how the winter effected the course and some of the issues we had (having only played here in the summer months in my younger days). It was interesting to see the challenges we face and work out our strategy to reduce or remove these challenges.
One of the things I noticed was simply how wet certain areas get. The 17th and 15th lower end were almost impossible to pass at certain times. Especially during one of the wettest winters on record.
A decision was made to add primary drainage.
Last year the new ditch at the 17th was built and this has given us an outlet to add the drainage into (as spoke about in my previous blog). The Management Committee felt it was important and financially backed the plan. Note: we will be adding drainage to other areas as an on going project.
Once the plan was in place and we knew we would need some help from contractors as we do not have this type of specialist machinery.
We got quotes and appointed two machine operators with specialist machinery and set our start date.
We felt it was better to start early, before the bunker construction as this would require labour itself and trying to avoid course maintenance week as this is hugely busy for us as a team. We also knew that it needed to be dry and the quietest period on the course following all the major competitions.
This left us FOUR days following the Stoneham Trophy and Junior Open. The four days before maintenance week!
Firstly we trenched out the main drains. These were 120mm wide with 100mm perforated pipe in the bottom. This is a big pipe so needed to be fitted by hand behind the trencher. The depth was 450mm average.
This is then followed by the drainage hopper which basically drives over the top with a funnel into the trenched line and the gravel is then put in place. This stabilises the pipe work in the bottom of the trench, which reduces the chance of the trench collapsing before it's repaired.
After this the laterals were then fitted. These trenched were smaller with a 60mm pipe in the bottom. Years ago the pipe work was laid as big as possible but now after lots of testing they believe that the smaller pipe which can take a full load when wet (60mm pipe) is self flushing as the entire is full during the wet are will run, causing it to flush through any debris.
Obviously the main drains which most of the laterals will be attached to needs to big enough to cope with the water from all the pipe work coming in.
The laterals were joined to the main drain using Y joints. The laterals were 400mm deep and at 5 metre spacings.
Note: all spoil was taken to the rear of the 14th. Why? To use in out new Heather mound (to help deflect the water) during the bunker project.
One of our main issues when fitting the drainage was the irrigation system.
The pipe work was mapped out prior to the work starting but the depths of installation vary across the site (note we also do not have any isolation points in the course meaning if we hit the system we lose a lot of water and would be unable to irrigate until a repair is made (this is why have to leave certain leaks during hot spells as it requires the system to be completely shut down and drained and the worry it might not prime back up).
For the trenching it meant we had to dig down at certain points to find depths and then adjust the drainage so it wouldn't hit it.
Another issue we was some of the ground conditions. The weather during the project was perfect if I m honest, the soils came out dry and went into the trailer well (if not a little dusty). The clay soils have a lot of stone in them and these would fly out meaning a lot of man hours clearing up was required after to remove stones that may have flown 20 odd yards!
Interesting to me was the top right of the 17th (almost where we walk up to the 18th tee). The material coming out with the trencher was brick dust which made going through areas impossible.
I was then informed that brick ovens were found on the course when the land became a golf course. Charlie can remember taking some down around the course during his time and the belief was the old not wanted bricks and dust was originally dumped in the area to the right of the 17th (in the woodland between 17th and 15th).
Once all the pipe work and gravel were fitted the lines were tipped up with sand. These were then healed in and topped up again and again and driven in.
These will be left to settle and then topped up again before we seed and esablish grass. The sand was topped up using two methods. Our top dresser and conveyer system and again the big hopper we hired in but with a different funnel.
We completed the bulk of the work in four very long days. This meant we had laid over 2000 metres of pipe, 110 tons of 4-10mm stone and 35 tons of sand to top up. 2 bags of grass seed and 5 bags of fertiliser. We hope the recovery will be within 8 weeks depending on weather.
We also took advantage of the hole being out of play and Graham (from Trants with his 7 ton digger) came in and gave the ditch at 17th a clear out along with Charlie. This can now have a base fitted in the coming weeks.
Next we will look to hollow core the fairway as we want to reduce the thatch build up so the water can get through to the pipe work.
The contractors and the greenstaff worked very hard on this project and we are sure this will make a difference to the hole in the winter months.
I hope this has given you a little insight to what we done and how we will be moving forward with it.
Thank you all for your patience during the works!