Course Redesign Sees Complete Toro Irrigation System

Oakmere Golf Club’s course redesign and expansion presented the perfect opportunity for the up-and-coming club to replace its 40-year-old irrigation system with Toro and bring the entire site above par. Those operating the new system can now exact more control and as a result are already seeing water and cost savings, as well as improved turf quality.

The club opted for a Lynx control system and a range of sprinklers, from Infinity to T7s, to not only maintain the course but to “raise its standards and maximise playability,” says director of golf Daryl St John Jones. “Our previous system was 40 years old and the pipes were brittle and cracked. This led to huge losses of water. Now we have strong polyethylene pipes and the new system will alert me to any leaks, which is very reassuring and will save us a lot of money.”

And with the control provided by his new Lynx system, Daryl is pleased to report the turf is “flourishing”: “Lynx gives far more control to the operator; water distribution can be as precise as 5mm to the greens or 4mm to the tees and the weather station monitors the humidity so water is not lost to evaporation. The variation provided by Lynx is great too, as you can give different amounts of water to different greens. Plants are flourishing as the green is never flooded, instead it’s given just the right amount of water, and we’ve seen a significant reduction in our water bills.

“Another benefit of Lynx is it’s linked to the internet; our head greenkeeper operates it from his tablet and I use my phone. Thanks to this I can test the sprinklers on course to check if they are working to the correct arc and, should weather conditions suddenly change overnight, the head greenkeeper can log on to the system from home and change the settings accordingly,” says Daryl.

Oakmere is in the process of expanding from 27 holes across two courses to 36 holes across three following consultation with leading golf architect Tom Mackenzie. Daryl comments: “We are just about to enter our third out of five years of renovation work. One of our main objectives is to build a nine-hole par three academy course. In doing so, we will cater to golfers of all levels, with the academy course for beginners, the commanders course for intermediates, and the admirals course for championship level players.”

The golf complex is open to all abilities all-year-round thanks to its free-draining courses, which remain bone-dry throughout the winter. However free-draining soil does come with its disadvantages: “The sandy ground retains less water and the way the ground holds waters across the courses varies, this made it paramount for us to invest in a quality irrigation system to cater to the needs of the turf,” says Daryl.

And by all accounts Toro is delivering, with Daryl noting “improvements to the quality of the courses” since its installation. Combine this with a huge redesign and it looks like Oakmere is set to flourish and grow over the next couple of years.

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Let groundsmen do their jobs

The pitch for a cricket match is best left to the men hired to tend to them. A reminder of it came from the India-Australia first Test, where the hosts’ insistence upon assistance for spin spectacularly backfired. This is not to say sides should not have home advantage. Every host prefers conditions aiding its resources. That is how the game goes. Difference between that and Pune is last-moment orders from the team management to drastically change the nature of the surface. Otherwise, no association staging a Test for the first time would offer one with turn for the new ball. It was an exaggerated version of what they wanted, a beast that became its own master and went beyond the control of its creators.

MS Dhoni’s scream for a turner after winning the first Test against England in 2012, chief coach Ravi Shastri tearing into the curator on not getting one for an ODI against South Africa in 2015 and being presented with a handful of those in the ensuing Tests—these are precedents of the team putting pressure on groundsmen. These are quickly forgotten because instances of such strategies backfiring are rare. But like Bangalore in 1987 against Pakistan, Mumbai versus England in 2012, incidents like Pune underline the fact that playing and preparing pitches are specialised jobs. Too much interference proves counterproductive at times.

Persons looking after grounds and pitches in India currently are an experienced lot, with knowledge that comes with it. They know what suits the team and worked accordingly for the recent Tests against New Zealand and England, which India won without overt assistance from conditions. In all these matches barring one, spinners were at the forefront, without visiting captains complaining of excessive spin. Pitch curators were happy to work without orders and see matches go to the fifth day. The first time this season the team imposed its will upon them, it boomeranged—a lesson on who should focus on what.

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Amenity Forum opens Agrigem’s new office

On Friday 10th February, Agrigem opened its doors for the official opening of ‘Gem House’. Guests attended a champagne reception before the unveiling and a grand tour of Agrigem’s new 6000sqft office and warehouse headquarters.

The building was opened by the chairman of the Amenity Forum, Professor John Moverley OBE. John was chosen for this role as he plays a key part within the amenity agrochemical and horticultural Industry and after the continued support he has shown Agrigem over the years, he was proud to have been asked to do the job.

Agrigem have invested £750,000 in the relocation of its headquarters and includes 4000sqft of specialist racked warehouse space to house 185,000 litres of hazardous product; and 2000sqft of office space which is designed to accommodate 15 full time employees. Founded by Managing Director Kieran Would in 2013 Kieran Said “This is an incredibly exciting time for my team whose hard work has made it all possible; we have seen exponential growth over the last three years and we are confident that the relocation can continue this.’’

Earlier this month, The Amenity Forum announced their 2017 conference date. An event which has become a must attend for all involved or with an interest in weed, pest and disease management. It will take place on Thursday, October 12th, at the Pirelli Stadium, Burton on Trent, and is set to be as big as last years!

The conference is entitled ‘Keeping Britain Moving’ and speakers will address the key issues in the sector. Speakers include John Parker, who works for Transport for London, who will address the issue of keeping our cities moving. Colin Mumford from Bayer will speak on the ‘appliance of science’ and Professor Alan Gange will take a specific look at biological control linked to his research programme at Royal Holloway University of London. A leading head groundsman will give his views on the pressures of producing high quality sports surfaces and a session led by two leading sector experts will pose the question ‘What is the future for weed, pest and disease management’.

Liverpool FC plans new training centre

Liverpool FC is planning a major redevelopment of the Reds’ Academy site in Kirkby.

Liverpool FC’s vision is to bring its first team and Academy football training operations and facilities together on one site.

The £50 million proposal includes the construction of a new combined training centre, the redevelopment of the existing facilities at the Academy and designs to convert the main pitch into an indoor pitch.

Liverpool and Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council (KMBC) announced the joint plans for the proposed redevelopment, including improvements for local residents and the community playing fields at Simonswood Lane.

A public consultation is being held next month for local residents and businesses to discuss the proposed plans in more detail.
As part of the proposed masterplan, KMBC is leading on proposals to provide new and improved football pitches and sports facilities to the area, working closely with local football teams, including Kirkby AFC.

The much-needed upgrade to the pitches will be able to support the highest level of amateur football matches with new changing facilities and car park.
The surrounding area will also see improvements which include new dog-walking and cycling paths, new lighting and improved security with a CCTV system.
To enable the proposals to go ahead, LFC will need to purchase additional land immediately adjacent to the Academy site and close part of Moss Lane between Simonswood Lane and Arbour Lane.

As part of the wider plans, LFC is also proposing a redevelopment of the club’s existing first-team training ground at Melwood.
This proposed development could provide around 160 family homes in West Derby and newsletters have been posted to local residents to seek their feedback on the proposals.

Andy Hughes, chief operating officer at Liverpool FC, said:
Our proposed plans to bring the first team and young players together in one location is a really exciting proposition. The scheme includes state-of-the-art facilities which will be used to support the development of our players and provides all-weather training options.
We are also working closely with Knowsley Council on plans to make substantial improvements for the local community. These include new and improved football pitches and sports facilities to support grass roots and amateur football teams, and developments to the surrounding areas for local residents.
We recognise that Melwood has played a significant role in the club’s success and forms an important part of our history. However, the Melwood site is limited in space and is unable to accommodate our longer-term ambitions, which is why we are exploring options on the Academy site.
We are encouraging our neighbours and local residents in Kirkby to attend to a public consultation to see the proposals first hand.

BunkerMaster saves the day

The bunker is all dressed and the preparation completed just before the competition and then down comes the rain. At this time of year it can be anything from heavy showers to a hard, rain-driving storm and where does that leave you at the end of the day? With a bunker that needs a lot of work. One of the most useful tools for the golf course and greenkeepers is the BunkerMaster. Light in weight, and easy to carry around in a buggy or ATV, it’s the ideal solution for dressing a bunker in about a quarter of the time it takes with conventional tools. Those greenkeepers who use one swear by it. Even if bunker preparation is last minute it pays to have a BunkerMaster handy for sand trap restoration, working tight edges and banks. It will also deal with thick moss, thatch, overgrown grass and ingrained sand. The BunkerMaster aerates the top 36mm/1½” of sand but never aggressively digs in and it’s designed to work away from the operator for maximum control.

So you have a fast route after the rains to getting the bunker back into shape and ready for play. You have a choice of powerful commercial grade engines in the 4-stroke Honda 25cc or Subaru 35cc, and a powertrain that’s virtually indestructible. The speed and efficiency of the BunkerMaster translates into less effort required by staff and an improvement in productivity. Set that alongside the low initial outlay for the machine and it soon becomes clear there is a real financial benefit. While bunkers cover approximately only one or two percent of the course their upkeep can take as much as twenty-five percent of the greenkeeper’s resources.

There is no doubt the BunkerMaster will give you a fast return on your investment and make considerable savings in the long-term. It also comes with a five-year warranty in commercial use, which is an added benefit for additional peace of mind.

The countdown to the Rugby World Cup has begun!

With under 1,000 days to go until Japan host the 2019 Rugby World Cup Finals for the first time, Harrod UK made a special trip over to the land of the rising sun to visit 2 of 12 venues that have been confirmed to stage the tournament matches.
Harrod UK’s Sales Development Manager, John Robinson made the 13 hour flight to Tokyo to soak up some of the anticipated atmosphere that has already been generated by this fantastic tournament. John commented “This fascinating country and her wonderful people are starting to embrace the tournament already, and we’re still 2 years away! It’s going to be phenomenal place to be once the tournament commences”.

The Shizuoka Ecopa Stadium in Fukuroi is the first stadium to install a new set of Harrod UK’s, 17m Millennium rugby posts. When quality equipment is required for major events, the UK’s leading sports post manufacturer were once again, the first port of call. John goes on to say “We have a very proud history of supplying and more importantly, delivering to many major sporting events across the UK and around the world. Overseeing the installation of this first set of rugby posts into the Ecopa Stadium was a special moment, especially when I was invited to kick the first goal through their new posts. It was an invitation I couldn’t refuse despite having a half dozen film crews zooming in on my technique!”

Kofu Field Co. are Harrod UK’s official distributors in Japan. They are now busily putting together proposals for the remaining stadia over the coming months. The Sapporo and Kumamoto Stadiums will bring its challenges for their rugby post installation because of their retractable (floating) pitch. A challenge that Harrod UK will thrive on to execute!

Mount Lawley GC Impress After Switching To Jacobsen

Ipswich, Suffolk (February 24, 2017) Mount Lawley Golf Club, located in Perth, Western Australia, has taken delivery of a fleet of machinery from renowned turf equipment manufacturer Jacobsen. Local dealer McIntosh & Son made the delivery.

The Golf Club decided to invest in brand new machinery to improve the playing surface of the golf course for the members of the club. The machinery leased through Jacobsen included two Eclipse 322 ride-on greens mowers, two LF570 light fairway mowers, one LF1880 super-light fairway mower, one AR722 rotary mower, one GP400 greens mower and four Eclipse2 walking greens mowers.

Rohan Farrow, Interim Course Superintendent at Mount Lawley Golf Club commented on the new additions to the shed:
“I carried out a lot of research before committing to Jacobsen machinery. I looked at our capital expenditure and took things into account, such as reliability, running costs and back-up support, before putting a case forward to the club. Jacobsen came out on top in all of the criteria and the demos that we had on the course, so it was an easy decision in the end.

“I am particularly impressed with the quality of cut that the Eclipse 322 and the Eclipse2 mowers produce. The members have noticed the difference on the greens, and the team really enjoys using the machines; they are easy to use and in my opinion, they are the best cutting machines in the industry.”

The Eclipse2 walking greens mower also features a unique password-protected LCD menu which allows users to set the frequency of clip, mow speed and other settings to customise the mower to course conditions. There is a range of models available in both Hybrid or Electric.

“I also spoke to other Jacobsen customers before purchasing any machinery, and their feedback was very positive. Everyone spoke very highly of the machines; especially about the quality of cut and improvements they have seen on their respective courses,” Rohan added. “I am particularly excited about the LF1880 fairway mower; I believe it will transform the course here and double our efficiency when cutting surrounds.”

Mike Foskett, Regional Sales Manager at Jacobsen commented on the new fleet at Mount Lawley,
“This is a significant deal for us; Mount Lawley is a top-end club and has been using competitor equipment for a long time. We are pleased that they are seeing results on the golf course with the new Jacobsen equipment, and we look forward to building upon our relationship with Rohan and his team in the years to come.”

Mount Lawley Golf Club is located just 10 minutes from the centre of Perth city and is one of Western Australia’s premier sporting clubs. Since its formation in 1928, the Club and has hosted numerous State and National Amateur golf events and hosted the Western Australian Open Championships in 2013. The course measures 6,234 metres (Par 72) with a USGA Scratch Rating of 73 and is consistently ranked in Australia’s top 100 courses.

National Campaign Saves Harpenden Park

A recreation ground in Harpenden which is used by hundreds of people in the town each year has been granted legal protection from any future development, thanks to a national campaign to find and protect green spaces throughout the country.

Westfield Recreation Ground in Harpenden, is one of more than 100 sites identified by members of the public as part of the search launched by the Carnegie UK Trust and Fields in Trust to find and protect over 900 ‘lost’ playing fields and it’s new status was marked by a plaque unveiling at the site on 16th February by the Town Mayor of Harpenden, Councillor Mrs Nicola Linacre.

The fields were set up with the aid of a grant of £200,000, the equivalent of £10m in today’s money, from the Carnegie UK Trust between 1927 and 1935.

As part of the nationwide #FieldFinders search, Fields in Trust has analysed the submissions and shortlisted 20 sites which have already begun to make significant progress in improving legal protections associated with their site to protect them from future development.

Alongside the Westfield Recreation Ground, which was identified as an historic Carnegie field by local historian, Councillor Teresa Heritage, other successful sites have also been discovered in Adlington in Lancashire, Lossiemouth in Scotland, Lydbrook in Gloucestershire, and Stalham in Norfolk.

Douglas White, Head of Advocacy at Carnegie UK Trust, said: “A requirement of the original grant made by the Carnegie UK Trust more than 80 years ago to establish playing fields throughout the country was that these green spaces would remain public areas for the community in perpetuity. The aim of the new #FieldFinders campaign was to ensure that this legacy lived on.

“We were absolutely inundated with requests from members of the public upon launching the search last year and we are delighted with the result of being able to identify so many. Filtering through the entries and pairing them with the original 900 Carnegie fields sites is no mean feat and we thank the Fields in Trusts team for all of their efforts.”

The sites shortlisted by Fields in Trust were also invited to apply for two improvement grants worth up to £5k as part of the campaign and the Westfield Recreation Ground was successful in winning one of these. Following local consultation the Carnegie improvement grant contributed to a major redesign project including additional fitness trail elements and repositioning the multi-use games area. Alongside the enhanced sport facilities, new play equipment and increased seating were added.

The Town Mayor of Harpenden, Councillor Mrs Nicola Linacre, said: “Now that Westfield Recreation Ground has been granted legal protection from any future re-development, local residents are reassured that the park will be there to be enjoyed for generations to come.

“We are so pleased to have received funding from the Trust. This has allowed us to make the site more attractive to local residents; improve play equipment, install a fitness trail and offer more seating so people can sit and enjoy the open space. We’re delighted with the improvements!”

Helen Griffiths, Chief Executive at Fields in Trust, said: “Our public green spaces are places to relax, play sports or hold community events. Ensuring they are around for years to come is a top priority so we are delighted that we have been able to protect these valuable assets for the long-term and to fund the improvements with Carnegie Trust Grants.”

A plaque has now been erected in the Westfield Recreation Ground to recognise it as a protected Carnegie-Fields in Trust site.

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Olympic Park Turns Into Cutting-Edge Tech Testbed

Future Cities Catapult has today announced the winners of £40,000 funding for UK SMEs to develop, test and showcase innovative technology solutions in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Drawing on the legacy of the Olympic Games, the Government-supported centre for urban innovation invited SMEs to submit applications to encourage healthy and sustainable behaviours through technology.

Together with the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), four successful proposals have been selected, each receiving £10,000 to trial their solutions to residents and visitors within the park and surrounding areas. Technologies tackling social isolation, increasing health and eco-friendly activities, plus navigating the park with real-time data, will be deployed till the end of September 2017.

The winning SMEs are:

  • Betterpoints: A behaviour change incentivisation scheme encouraging the local community to undertake health, wellbeing and eco-friendly activities, for which they are rewarded with points that can be exchanged for high street rewards
  • OpenPlay: A sports marketplace that connects sporting facilities to individuals, encourages people to be more actice and enables people to make new connections
  • Living Map: A data platform and digital map that could enable the community and visitors to navigate, locate and move around the Park with greater ease
  • The Ecological Sequestration Trust and Groundwork London: A digital social-feed encouraging active lifestyles to local people who may be at risk of social isolation
    The competition is part of the Capstone project, a collaboration between Future Cities Catapult, Intel Labs Europe, Imperial College and University College London. The aim of the project is to demonstrate the ability of the Internet of Things interventions to solve real urban challenges in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Scott Cain, Chief Business Officer at Future Cities Catapult, said:

“Quite rightly, our health and wellbeing in our cities is a hot topic at the moment, and it’s about more than sport. People want to feel good and that’s why we’re working with startups and entrepreneurs to encourage healthy behaviour and human interaction.

“The 2012 Games positioned London centre-stage as a sporting and pro-active nation and in terms of legacy and urban renewal. Our work in the Olympic Park will build on this legacy, by making the park a hotbed for innovation and tech and positioning the UK as a leader in next generation connectivity.

“Here at Future Cities Catapult we work closely with startups and SMEs to develop and test disruptive technologies, creating happy, healthy and more sustainable cities”.

Sam Parton, co-founder and CEO at OpenPlay, said:
“OpenPlay are delighted to be working with Future Cities Catapult and LLDC to get more people active in and around the Olympic Park.

“The park is the home of the Olympic Legacy and we’re working to make better use of existing assets in the area and to unearth activities taking place within them.

“The Open Call is a great way of showcasing how we can encourage people to adopt healthier behaviours and make new human connections”.

Mab Groundcare Appointed Ventrac Dealer

Price Turfcare, the newly established business founded by Ransomes Jacobsen’s former International Sales Director, Rupert Price, has appointed MAB Groundscare, based at Goudhurst in Kent as a Ventrac dealer for the area.

At a recent training day at a private school in the Tenterden area, the MAB team were able to get an in-depth insight into the product and some of the various attachments that make the Ventrac a versatile workhorse for groundscare contractors, golf courses and establishments with large areas of grounds to manage.

As an added bonus, at the end of the training, the school were able to see a comprehensive demonstration of the machine’s capabilities.

Commenting at the end of the training and demonstration, Rupert Price said,
“I’m delighted that MAB have come on board and I’m sure they will provide the Ventrac product with a very professional presence in the area. The training went really well and I think it has proved to everyone that we have a viable and unique product for this industry sector.”

Mark Brown, Managing Director of MAB Groundcare added,
“The training day and subsequent product demonstration proved that we have made the correct decision to become distributors of the Ventrac compact tractor. It’s a great piece of kit and very versatile; just one power unit and range of accessories makes it an ideal choice for estate management and landscape contracting applications.”

About Ventrac
The Steiner family has always been about the business of making life simpler through practical engineering, design ingenuity and good old-fashioned common sense. Those early values passed on by the founder, Marvin Steiner continues to be the driving force that pushes the company to design and manufacture the highest quality equipment available, surpassing the needs of our ever-changing world. In 1998 his sons introduced the brand name VENTRAC and the Steiner brothers focused their energies on the new “next generation” all-wheel-drive compact tractor.

Ventrac’s versatility offers over 30 different attachments and combined with their patented Mount System (which takes less than a minute to attach or detach attachments) provides a compact power pack with maximum performance and versatility for many different sectors within the groundscare industry.