Friday, 26 April 2013

Ealing Greenkeepers visit The Grove

Every year we do a course visit and luckily this year it was The Grove in Watford's turn. The Grove is considered by many the best conditioned course in the UK and held a world championship event in 2006 (remember Tiger Woods and that 18th hole). We have done this for the past seven years and visited courses such as Sunningdale, Bearwood Lakes and The Buckinghamshire. The aim for these visits is to see how these illustrious clubs set up their maintenance operation and to hopefully take things that we consider relevant to us back to Ealing. The Grove didn't let us down!

It was a glorious day last Tuesday and The Grove was in excellent condition. Greens were firm and fast and fairways beautifully presented. Speaking to their Head Greenkeeper and Irrigation technician it soon hit us that things are not always greener on the other side. Yes they may have treble the number of staff than us at Ealing, but it is a high maintenance golf course. For instance for us to cut greens and tees, it takes two guys on a ride-on machine. For them it is seven, with four on the green and three on tees. The big thing that we took away was the need to plan ahead and attention for detail. With a busy course the Head Greenkeeper spends more time in the office planning operations than out on the golf course. It is a beast and needs to be managed right. The golfer is their number one priority, something that we agree on at Ealing!

Known for their fast greens!

Dave their Head Greenkeeper explaining operations
Tees as good as some clubs greens

Well defined 'crisp' edges
Great run offs at the backs of greens

Friday, 12 April 2013

Irrigation audit

As we approach the start of the season, hopefully this year our irrigation system will be used. In 2006 the club invested heavily in a state of the art irrigation system. In total (including the borehole that was added in 2010) it cost £310k to install a whole new system including water to greens, tees, approaches and fairways. It was a great investment by the club and during periods of hot, dry weather, it allows us to maintain these playing surfaces to the best of their abilities.

A lovely sight when allowed to be used!

 Now that the system is in to its 7th year, regular maintenance of it is needed to allow it to function to its maximum potential. This week the attention has turned to our spring audit of the system. All sprinkler heads (over 500 in total) have been edged and trimmed. On top of this, all arcs and pressure have been checked and any faults found either repaired or put on a maintenance schedule. Last October over 40 sprinkler heads were raised as since installation, they had dropped. This took over 20 man days. As you can begin to image, irrigation takes a huge amount of resources and maintenance to maintain. It is underground so out of sight and can be easily forgotten about. However, when you need to use it, it has to be fit for purpose. Let's hope we have the opportunity to use it this year!

Working at 5bar of pressure

Testing for arc and pressure

Over 500 heads to be trimmed every 4 weeks

In a good year around 20,000m3 will be used

Friday, 5 April 2013

And you thought it was wet this year!

For this weeks blog we thought that we would take you back in time. Below is a picture that was taken of our lovely neighbouring 12th Century church, St. Mary's. We believe it was taken around 1890 and as you can see, things weren't so dry in those days either! The view is taken from the left side of the 17th hole and looks directly across the fairway to the church. This fairway regularly floods during extreme wet weather but we don't think we have seen it this bad. Around 1980 the green was moved in its low position to the existing plateau green that we play to today. When the river does flood it reminds us of the 17th hole at Sawgrass. The only problem is instead of a 132 yard tee shot it turns in to a 355 yard hole with no fairway!

A priest apparently drowned in the river Brent. You can understand how!