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Making a mark

Making a mark: Scott MacCallum meets Andy Butler, the Head of Grounds and Gardens at Repton School, a man who is fast making his mark…

For 14 years Andy Butler diligently worked his way through the ranks of the grounds team at Repton School. He studied hard to gain qualifications, but, like so many who have gone before him, when he reached the level of Deputy his progress stalled. The Head of Grounds and Gardens role was already filled and family commitments meant that moving any distance away to another school wasn’t a real option.

Making a mark

Making a mark

Then, just over a year ago, came a breakthrough. The head man moved on to another school and the job that Andy had always coveted became available.

Knowing that this was his big chance, he prepared thoroughly and when it came to his turn to face the interview panel, he aced it.

“At the interview I just wanted to be treated like any other candidate and thankfully that was the case,” he said.

“I presented them with a plan covering where I wanted to take the school over a five and a seven year period and we are now implementing that plan,” he explained.

“I split the school into three areas and planned to do a rolling programme on each, every three years. So now every area will be getting regular vertidraining, regular overseeding, regular top dressing.

“We are trying to change the soil profile as it is quite clay-based where we are so we are inputting lots of straight sand to improve that profile and the water flow through it,” said Andy, who uses Mansfield Sands, based nearby.

In the nine months since he took over, the school has been delighted with what Andy and his team have already put in place.

“We have implemented a rigid aeration programme. In fact, the guys are out there just now working on it, with the Air2G2, trying to relieve compaction and improve our root growth. The improvement in the first eight months has been pretty good,” said Andy, adding that previously there hadn’t been a particular focus on that type of remedial work.

But they have not just upped the aeration work. A new drainage project is proving to be a little more complicated than was first envisaged.

“We drained one pitch, but unfortunately, due to the fact that no compaction work had been carried out in the recent past, and with heavy tractors pulling gang mowers increasing compaction issues, the water wasn’t able to find its way to the drains.

Making a mark

Making a mark

“I think we are going to have to use the original drainage as secondary drainage and put a primary drainage scheme in on top of that. We will then roll that method out over the other three areas we have on the site.”

The work will undoubtedly improve the facilities at what is one of the very top schools, not just in Derbyshire, but the entire country. Indeed, the roll call of Old Reptonians, sporting and otherwise, would equal those of any similar establishment.

I give you Harold Abrahams, winner of the 100 metres at the Paris Olympics in 1924, and immortalised in the Oscar-winning film, Chariots of Fire; Bunny Austin, Wimbledon finalist in 1932; Adrian Newey, the Formula 1 technical genius, and a host of cricketers, including Donald Carr, who went onto run English cricket.

There is one other sporting Old Boy who needs a special mention, and that is the legendary C B Fry, who not only played cricket and football for England, and represented the Barbarians at rugby, he equalled the world long jump record at the time, and he could back flip from a standing start onto a mantlepiece!

A skill perhaps perfected in one of the Repton Houses.

If that were not enough, the education of the man who gave us Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Tales of the Unexpected was shaped at Repton – Roald Dahl.

Another pupil to go on to national fame was Jeremy Clarkson.

It is doubtful whether many of those illustrious sportsmen had the range and quality of sports surfaces that are now a feature of Repton School.

The school currently has: two water-based Astro pitches; one sand-dressed Astro pitch; the Prep school has another sand-dressed pitch which is being replaced later this year; there are 12 tennis hard courts, which switch around to host the netball season; 11 football pitches; two rugby pitches; one 11 pitch cricket square; two six pitch cricket squares; the Prep school has one six pitch cricket square and two other cut down pitches for the smaller children.

“We have roughly 27 acres of playing field at the Senior school and 20 acres of playing field at the Prep school while we also have 10 boarding houses at the Senior school all with gardens and two boarding houses at the Prep school each with a garden.”

Often pitches are shared by rugby and football and it can be a challenge to turn them around between sports, while the First team football pitch also doubles up as the cricket outfield with a four week turnaround to make it happen.

“We overseed and level up as best we can.”

Andy has a school calendar at the beginning of every term, but he gets a weekly schedule from each Director of Sport on a Sunday evening so he can plan on the Monday morning.

“It does change regularly with Cup runs etc – and they tend to do well in football as we are a big footballing school – but we work well to ensure it all comes together.

Our First team pitch generally has between 10 and 15 matches, compacted into a 10-12 week period.”

To cope with the huge workload Andy has a team of 13.

Making a mark

Making a mark

“There are two groundmen at the Prep school, with one classed as my Head Groundsman; there are two gardeners, with one classed as Head Gardener while, at the Senior school, there are four gardeners with a Team Leader and a gardener who looks after the Headmaster’s area. The remainder are grounds staff,” revealed Andy.

And while the quantity of sports turf is enormous, the quality required of it is reaching new heights.

“The Liverpool FC Camps UK is basing itself here for the summer. That will be the 14 to 18-year-olds, and they will be using it for training and player trials. They will use our houses for their accommodation.

This is really big for the school, and we are delighted to be hosting them,” said Andy who added that the South African Hockey team is also basing themselves at the school for the Commonwealth Games so that they can make use of the water-based pitch.

And when it comes to cricket, they are targeting a Derbyshire County Championship match later in the season. This comes on the back of Derbyshire basing themselves with the school during Covid for training purposes, as the English women’s team were using the County Ground in Derby.

“While they were here, I was able to produce the wickets they were looking for and talk to the players and the coaching staff about what they looked for in a pitch and what they wanted from a pitch. It was a really good learning curve for me and the team and allowed us to push forward with our pitch preparation skills.”

An example of which is the fact that they have just Koroed off one cricket square, something which had not been done for a number of years.

“That has really helped to refresh the surface,” said Andy.

Director of Cricket at the school is former England Test wicketkeeper Chris Read, who is just one of a number of high class coaches employed by the school. Martin Jones who coaches hockey is an ex-Olympian, while the Director of Swimming is none other than Scott Talbot, who coached Australian swimmers at the Beijing, London and Rio Olympics and was also the New Zealand national coach.

To support Andy in achieving what he wants, and what is required from the surfaces, the school has been extremely supportive and stuck its hand in the coffers to supply the equipment needed.

“We’ve got the right kit and I’ve been fully backed on what I want to do to raise the standards here and get us to first class levels.”

In the very near future, he will be signing off on in-house grinding equipment, something which will again assist in reaching the new levels of turf preparation, while they are also moving from fixed goals to portable goals, a project which should be completed by the summer.

“We use Harrod goals, supplied by Turfix,” said Andy.

That backing is all the more welcome given the costs hikes that have been so widespread across the industry, and, indeed, all our lives.

“The red diesel change has been a real shocker. It seems really strange to me that golf clubs can continue to use red diesel but schools can’t. We used to be £880 for a delivery but it has now gone up to £1,200 and we have four or five a year, so that is a huge increase in costs just in itself.

“Fortunately, I bought all our fertiliser before Christmas so we missed the biggest hike,” he revealed, adding that he uses Agrovista for his fertiliser and chemical needs.”

It all hints are difficult times ahead but for a man who waited 14 years to be given the opportunity, Andy is relishing all that his new position has in store for him.

Nitrogen… more than a number on a bag

Nitrogen… more than a number on a bag: I recently asked someone what they would do if they wanted to feed their turf for a long period of time from one application of fertiliser? The answer given was that the higher the number of N on the analysis, the longer it will last…

So will the analysis, 21.0.0 last longer (longevity) than an 18.0.0? I’m afraid if you answered yes then, well… you aren’t right or wrong, you just don’t have enough information yet. Let’s explore the rationale behind that and why it is important.

I’m sure everyone reading this understands the cost of turf nutrition has significantly increased in the last twelve months! For that reason, I wanted to take this opportunity to bring us back to basics. I want to refresh everyone on the importance of correct selection when it comes to Nitrogen Sources (N), where we find this information and why it really is the most important thing to understand to get the maximum value and performance out of your fertiliser.

The Main Nitrogen Sources for Turfgrass

Nitrogen is, by a long way, the most important and influential input we provide to our turf. It provides the building blocks of plant growth and development. Due to surface usage and necessary but stressful maintenance practices, we often must supplement our soils with Nitrogen based fertilisers to help our turf grow and perform. These fertilisers come in many shapes and sizes. I have set out below, the basics and what to expect if we apply them. However, if you are interested in more detail, I encourage everyone to research it, in particular, the Nitrogen Cycle, and how each form of nitrogen behaves in respect to it.

Disclaimer: I have selected what I believe are the most common sources of Nitrogen used in turf. I fully accept there are others but to keep it short and simple I have chosen the majority.

  1. Soluble Plant Available Nitrogen (Synthetic/Mineral)

These are water soluble forms of nitrogen that, when applied to the turf, are immediately (or almost immediately) available to the plant. Typically, this source is most useful when soil temperatures are low as microbial activity is required for other N sources to be broken down to available forms for the plant. Nitrate, (and when conditions allow, Ammonium) are the forms of Nitrogen taken up by plants and can come in many substances such as Ammonium Sulphate or Calcium Nitrate. Each have additional affects due to their components. i.e., ammonium sulphate also contains 24% sulphur and has an acidifying effect on the soil. Nitrate won’t last long though, due to its solubility and negative charge, it quickly leaches through the profile. Expect these forms to last 2-4 weeks depending on conditions and soil type.

Urea in its pure form, is a water-soluble form of N that, in warmer conditions, is very quickly made plant available as it requires the activity of soil microbes to convert it to plant available ammonium N. For this reason, it can be unpredictable in spring, and it is commonly used in summer/autumn fertilisers. Therefore, although volatilisation (loss of nitrogen as ammonium gas to the atmosphere) is slower in cold temperatures, if urea cannot be quickly converted to ammonium carbonate a significant portion can be lost to the atmosphere, an expensive mistake in the current economic climate. Urea is also popular as it makes a fantastic tank mix partner due to its extensive hydrogen bonding (highly soluble). Expect 4-6 weeks longevity from urea (depending on conditions) with it taking slightly longer to show a turf response than say, ammonium sulphate. It is rarely applied to turf in uncoated granular form due to its high salt index increasing the likelihood of scorch/salt stress.

The problem occurs on labels (if detailed), where any urea, regardless of the form, is referred to as “UREIC”. As we will find out, this can mean many different things.

  1. Synthetic Nitrogen (Slow Release)

Methylene Urea. A similar story to regular urea by which it requires the action of soil microorganisms. However, the production process creates a variety of longer chain molecules. This provides a predictable, slow, longer-term conversion to plant available N thus giving an even growth pattern. This makes them very popular in turfgrass environments where predictable growth patterns are important for performance, such as golf greens and sports pitches. Depending on the formulation and amount of MU, expect anywhere between 4-12 weeks longevity from these fertilisers. It is a very safe, low salt N source, available in both liquid and granular forms.

Thanks to its advanced production process, AGS Growth Products Smart Nitrogen™ contains more longer carbon chain molecules than other methylene urea molecules meaning it provides superior growth predictability and longevity (figure 1). Growth Products also pride themselves on providing end users with every piece of information they need by producing some of the most detailed labels on the market. This helps to ensure turf managers achieve the desired outcome with their fertiliser application (figure 2). Labels are not always this clear, they can be very vague, only stating the analysis. If this is the case, speak to your supplier and find out exactly what is in your fertiliser, be it granular or liquid.

Figure 1: The release curve of Growth Products Smart MU vs standard Urea based products. It provides a longer, more predictable release of N than regular Urea.

Figure 1: The release curve of Growth Products Smart MU vs standard Urea based products. It provides a longer, more predictable release of N than regular Urea.

Figure 2: An excerpt from Growth Products Nitro-28. This is just a small amount of the detail printed on our labels. Many other products will not provide this information, but it is important you know it.

Figure 2: An excerpt from Growth Products Nitro-28. This is just a small amount of the detail printed on our labels. Many other products will not provide this information, but it is important you know it.

  1. Organic Nitrogen (Slow Release)

In a fairway situation, where clippings are not removed, organic matter provides most of the nitrogen for turf growth. Mineralisation takes care of excess organic matter, converting it to plant available N. However, in managed turf, particularly where clippings are removed, we may wish to provide supplemental organic nitrogen.

Organic fertilisers should be from materials derived from a living (or previously living) source, such as plants and animals. Be careful, this is a common place where cheaper mineral fertilisers can be passed on as more expensive organics by including small amounts of organic nutrients. The E.U. has some fairly lose rules when it comes to classification of organics. For example, to be classified as an Organic Solid, the product must contain a minimum of 15% Organic Carbon. To be classified as Organo-Mineral Fertilisers, Organic Carbon should be a minimum of 7.5% and Organic Nitrogen greater than 0.5%. Very easy to see how many so-called “organics” are not what they seem on the surface.

Granular organic nitrogen sources, such as Sustane, generally take between 4-8 weeks to breakdown leaving behind valuable soil building organic materials among other benefits that are extensively documented. They are also available in liquid forms. However, organic liquids are water soluble nutrients derived from organic sources (such as animal waste), therefore you extract the nutrients and leave the other valuable organic materials behind. They do not require the level of breakdown via microbial activity and have less beneficial effects on soil health.

When it comes to organic fertiliser, make sure you read your labels, with any luck they will clearly state the percentage of Water Insoluble Nitrogen (WIN: This is your true organic part) and provide the organic source. For example, Sustane, contains mainly anaerobically composted turkey litter to supply the organic nutrition to the turf. The percentage of these are always clearly stated on our labels (Figure 3). Don’t be fooled here. Read your label and make sure you are happy with the amount of actual organic you are applying. If it’s not on the label, ask your supplier.

Figure 3: Guaranteed Analysis of Sustane 5-2-4. Detailed information is so important when it comes to Organic Fertiliser.

Figure 3: Guaranteed Analysis of Sustane 5-2-4. Detailed information is so important when it comes to Organic Fertiliser.

  1. Controlled Release Nitrogen

There is then a whole host of controlled release Nitrogen sources. Only available in granular form, meaning they are usually not feasible for fine turf, they consist of materials such as resin or polymer coated urea prills which rely on moisture, temperature and/or microbial activity for release. The most useful characteristic of these fertilisers is that release patterns can be long-term and predictable depending on the type and thickness of coating used. This is a popular choice for areas of turf that need regular nutrition without the ability/necessity to be applying regularly. Products range from 2-6 months in longevity and should come with a guide from your supplier on how long you can expect it last. Again, with urea-based products, the label is unlikely to help as it may all be stated as “UREIC”. This does not give us an accurate picture, there should be multiple grades of coated urea that help provide a smooth nitrogen release curve over the specified time. This is where supplier information is essential, make sure to ask them how the controlled release urea is formulated, as often a timescale in a catalogue can be misleading. This will ensure you meet your goals when it comes to long term, minimal application, turf nutrition.


I hope you can all see the importance of knowing your nitrogen source. Depending on your turf nutrition goals, we quickly start to see where proper selection fits in. Understanding how the source of nitrogen used will interact with the soil and therefore, the plant, is extremely important. If you are looking for a fertiliser that will last 2-3 months, then understanding that a product containing mainly ammonium sulphate won’t do the job. Similarly, if you are looking to give your turf a kick in spring then it would be a good idea to avoid anything containing too much urea or organic nitrogen. Whilst we can normally rely on suppliers to guide us, it is an essential piece of information that all turf managers should be aware of and regularly reviewing. Keep in mind that most fertilisers contain a blend, or formulation, of multiple N sources depending on the desired outcome.

A little on the underlying agronomics

I could go on about the intricacies of turf nutrition all day! I won’t. However, I would like to leave you with a parting piece of advice when it comes to your soils and nutrition. Get your pH tested! pH, or the acidity or alkalinity of your soil, plays a huge part the efficacy/availability of your nutrition and in turn the grass species that will grow favourably. Because of the way we maintain turf (particularly the use of fertilisers containing ammonium salts), we slowly (sometimes quickly) lower our pH. If acidity increases too much, availability of nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, potassium and magnesium decreases. This also increases availability of toxic elements such as aluminium and manganese. Below pH 5-5.5, our desired grass species may start to show increased levels of stress. pH monitoring is important to all turf surfaces but is particularly important in sandy rootzones where pH changes quickly due to low CEC. Low pH also has a negative effect on our soil microbial activity thus further decreasing the efficacy of our nutrients that rely on them to breakdown nitrogen sources not immediately available to the plant.

So, absolutely, study your fertiliser labels/information and make sure that what you are buying matches your required outcome. But ultimately, if pH is not in the correct range, you could be missing a big piece of the puzzle. AGS believe in providing the very best customer service. We are happy to provide soil samples, including pH, free of charge. Contact us today if you would like a visit from our in-field technical team.

In conclusion, to go back to the question I asked at the start, we still don’t know if a 21-0-0 will last longer than a 18-0-0. The analysis (N-P-K) is a necessary piece of information when it comes to calculating the number of units applied, still an important exercise, but not the full picture. What we should be doing is reading our labels and asking our suppliers for more information. Then we can sit down and work out exactly what we want, and expect, from our Nitrogen inputs. This will help us make informed, agronomic, and economical decisions about the nutrition we apply to our turf, and hopefully squeezing every penny (Unit of N) as far as it will go.

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Is there a crisis in golf greenkeeping?

Is there a crisis in golf greenkeeping?: The British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) has launched an industry-wide survey that will quantify information relating to a perceived ‘crisis’ within the greenkeeping and wider golfing sector.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that golf clubs are struggling to fill available vacancies, particularly in the greenkeeping department. Reasons generally put forward for this include the requirement to work anti-social hours, lack of appreciation and a relatively low entry salary. However, for those who do embark upon a career in greenkeeping, the positives are many.

Is there a crisis in golf greenkeeping?

Is there a crisis in golf greenkeeping?

This survey is crucial as it is vital the scale of the challenge is quantified, as well as the key drivers for the issues. Effective golf club staff are critical to the health and growth of the sport as they strongly influence the experience of golfers on a day-to-day basis.

As BIGGA seeks to fulfil its overarching ambition of creating a more positive working environment for the UK’s greenkeepers, BIGGA hopes the hard data from the survey will enable the association to positively guide the broader golf industry.

Head greenkeepers, course managers and other members of the turf management team at golf clubs are invited to complete the survey. Only one response is required per golf club. The survey can be completed online at: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/2VZ52PH

BIGGA has requested the support of partner organisations with regards this research and will publish the results in full when the periods for submissions has closed.

BIGGA Chief Executive Officer Jim Croxton said: “With the ongoing cost of living crisis at the forefront of our minds and the COVID-19 pandemic having caused many people to consider their priorities, the golf industry faces a very real challenge to engage sufficient staff at club level, to effectively deliver the sport to the nation’s five million regular golfers. Participation in the sport is booming at just the time that recruiting and retaining greenkeeping staff is at its most challenging. It is vital the golf industry – utilising real data – considers positive solutions to the ongoing labour issues.

“We encourage all our members to respond to this survey, which we believe will benefit all greenkeepers and golf club staff.”

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DLF Seeds a top 20 ‘Climate Friendly Company’

DLF Seeds a top 20 ‘Climate Friendly Company’: DLF Seeds have been recognised as one of the top 20 most ‘Climate Friendly Companies’ of 2021 in a recent list compiled by European Seed Magazine.

Particular mention was given to DLF’s RadiMax facility in Denmark – the world’s largest open-field root screening facility – that is leading the way in the research and development of sustainable varieties to tackle one of the most pertinent climate threats, drought.

DLF Seeds a top 20 ‘Climate Friendly Company’

DLF Seeds a top 20 ‘Climate Friendly Company’

Years before the climate agenda hit the breeding companies, DLF took the bold move of assembling breeders and scientists from across the public and private sectors in the pursuit of advancing seed breeding to suit future climates. Through this consortium DLF built their RadiMax facility, which can test up to 600 plant lines simultaneously in four V-shaped pits, each equipped with a unique irrigation system designed to simulate specific conditions and, in turn, identify the deepest rooting varieties.

With more than five years of research now under their belts, DLF have been able to supply turf and amenity customers with varieties with verified deep rooting and drought stress tolerance. A deeper rooting plant is not only better placed to withstand extended periods without water, it delivers a stronger and more stable sward with lower reliance on inputs. This is because the significant root growth enables the grass to better utilise the water and nutrients naturally found in the soil profile, improving overall nutrient and Nitrogen efficiency.

Of specific interest to the amenity market is the notable developments with key Fescue and Perennial Ryegrass species which have led to the introduction of more sustainable and drought tolerant mixtures such as Johnsons Sports Seed J Fescue mix for golf. The unique combination of cultivars in this 100% fine fescue blend have been chosen specifically to provide high drought and salt tolerance, resistance to disease and a sward that requires lower inputs of water and fertilisers.

The trials at RadiMax also demonstrated how DLF’s 4turf® tetraploid perennial ryegrass roots faster and deeper when compared to traditional diploid ryegrass. Its rapid root growth and larger root mass makes for a more resilient plant, suited to a wide range of sports turf applications. 4turf® varieties are incorporated into a number of Johnsons mixtures, including the new Johnson’s J Premier 4Turf, combining 4turf® tetraploids with traditional perennial ryegrass to create the ultimate winter sport renovation mixture.

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No better finish than a Dennis

No better finish than a Dennis: Jay Berkhauer, Head Groundsman for Dartford FC, says that the Dennis G860 cylinder mower is hugely versatile and offers an unrivalled finish.

Jay, who is employed by Jordans Sports Ground Solutions, has been working at Dartford FC’s Princes Park Stadium for three seasons. As an experienced grounds manager, Jay has worked on many sports surfaces including football, rugby and cricket.

No better finish than a Dennis

No better finish than a Dennis

It’s safe to say that he knows his mowers and there’s one that he has used regularly throughout his career.

“I first started using Dennis G860’s when I worked at Crystal Palace FC – and I absolutely love them,” he said. “From all the mowers I have used in my career I am of the opinion that you just can’t get a better finish than a Dennis.”

Therefore, when Jay started working for Jordans Sports Grounds Solutions, he was pleased to be given a Dennis G860 to use at Dartford FC: “Everyone who works on the maintenance side for the company has a G860,” he added.

Relied upon at world class stadia and major tournaments, the Dennis G860 is one of the most renowned cylinder mowers in the grounds management industry. Lightweight at just 166kg it is incredibly easy to manoeuvre and comfortable to operate. The handlebar console houses the controls for the throttle, parking brake, roller drive and cutting cylinder drive.

The mower features a large diameter front roller with an adjustable scraper which has been designed for a precise height of cut control, giving an excellent finish on every occasion. The Dennis G860 also features an interchangeable cassette system to assist with a wide range of tasks such as including scarifying, verticutting, brushing, spiking, and slitting.

Jay claims that this versatility is one of the G860’s best features.

“We have the verticutting cassette, the brush and the cutting cylinder,” he said. “In the summer months when the grass needs thinning out, I’ll use the verticutting cassette. I’ll also use it during renovations, just to give it a thorough clean and to remove any thatch.

“In winter, I’ll use the brush cassette after a game to give the pitch a tidy-up and to remove any debris. If I used a small rotary mower to do this after a game, I would be doing it all night, so the brush has certainly helped me to save time.

“Then of course, we have the cutting cylinder which provides an excellent finish every time.

“For clubs at all levels, including grass roots level, there is no better machine,” continued Jay. “The G860 has everything you need in one mower. It is a 3-in-1 for me and therefore works out to be very cost-effective.

“It’s also very light and easy to operate. It never breaks down and reliability is so important for me.”

For further information or a no obligation demonstration, please contact Dennis 01332 824 777 or visit www.dennisuk.com

For more news, reviews and insightful views, you can follow Dennis on Twitter and Instagram @DennisMowers and like the company’s Facebook page – www.facebook.com/DennisMowersUK.You can also view the latest Dennis videos by visiting www.youtube.com/DennisMowers

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Presenting a picture-perfect course

Presenting a picture-perfect course: At Killarney Golf and Fishing Club, presentation is everything.

With breathtaking views out over Lough Leane and the undulating Killarney National Park beyond, players come from all over the world to experience the two, 18-hole Killeen and Mahony’s Point courses.

Presenting a picture-perfect course

Presenting a picture-perfect course

It’s a club steeped in 129 years of history which includes hosting the Irish Open four times, with Nick Faldo winning in 1991 and 1992, Ross Fisher in 2010, and Simon Dyson in 2011.

With such rich heritage and high expectations, the greenkeeping team has to maintain the highest possible standards to satisfy the 500-plus golfers who could arrive to play at the complex during its busiest days of the year.

Enda Murphy is in charge of the 18-strong team responsible for presenting the course. He’s in his 30th year working at the club after joining as an apprentice from school.

“I completed a four-year apprenticeship in Killarney and then worked a year at Wayzata Country Club near Minneapolis in the States,” he explained.

“It was wealthy club with 28 greenkeepers for one 18-hole course, but what struck me was how neat and tidy the whole place was. The machinery sheds were immaculate – everything was organised and every machine had its place with a back-up machine in reserve too.

“I thought the whole attention to detail was amazing and something I wanted to bring back to Killarney.”

Enda became head greenkeeper in 2013 and takes immense pride in setting up a course which will live up to members’ and visitors’ expectations.

“It’s all about the location here – when you’re out on the course on a beautiful spring morning there is no better place,” he said. “When every hole is neat, tidy and looking sharp, that’s what it all about and what we strive to achieve.”

Being such a popular destination for visiting players while keeping the large playing membership happy is not without its challenges.

Enda says he has 1.7 metres of annual rainfall, a herd of 40 Irish Red Deer, and a constant procession of players to contend with, plus the environmental responsibility of maintaining a course so close to the iconic Irish lakes.

“We have a high level of play which creates compaction, wear and tear, he said. “Having lots of rain on a busy course is also a challenge but we have to keep golfers happy – we have strong competition from the other fantastic courses in Ireland.”


Last year Killarney’s members’ council – with the support of the membership – put pen to paper on a new fleet deal to replace its aging mowers and other course machinery.

“It came to a point last summer when greens mowers were breaking down on the morning of a competition, and the back-up machines were cutting tees because the tees mowers had broken,” Enda said.

“We were working on fairway mowers that were 10 or 15 years old and the repairs were starting to cost more than what the machines were worth, so a change was definitely needed.”

Enda and his team are familiar with a number of brands and researched prices and specifications as part of the purchasing process, but decided to stay loyal to John Deere as their mowers and utility vehicles had served the course well for a long time.

For cutting they purchased two new 7700A fairway mowers with rear roller power brushes, two 2750E hybrid greens mowers with tender conditioners and 14-blade reels, and two 2750PC mowers for tees and surrounds. The club also took a new 1570 front rotary mower with 72-inch deck and a 9009A for tackling the rough.

For full course maintenance the new fleet also included a 2030A with ARC HD200 sprayer, three TS Gators and a 4066R compact tractor.

“A big factor in the decision was that we have a dealer on the doorstep in Seamus Weldon so parts, sales and servicing is right here which is really convenient,” Enda said.

“They are good machines but if something goes wrong I can get a new part in 10 mins and get the machine back up and running in no time. That’s really important for us here on a busy course where we need to get the job done and be out of the way so golfers can enjoy their game.”

So far Enda is delighted with the new fleet – purchased using John Deere Finance – and so is his team.

“When you’re going out and everything is working it’s just a pleasure to do the job. The team gets frustrated when something takes too long and things break down – we’re just trying to get everything done to a high standard and then move on as quickly as possible.

“You can really notice the difference in the quality of cut and the reliability of the new machines. We now want to get into a rhythm of replacing them every five years, ideally.

“Bookings for the summer are looking really strong so it’s going to be another busy year as we, hopefully, come out of covid and look forward to welcoming players to Killarney.”

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BIGGA launches ‘Plant a Tree for BTME’

BIGGA launches ‘Plant a Tree for BTME’: The British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) has launched a new scheme that will see exhibitors at its annual trade show and education conference encouraged to ‘Plant a Tree for BTME’.

The 2022 edition of the BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition (BTME) was held from 22 to 24 March at the Harrogate Convention Centre, but is anticipated to return to its regular January date in 2023. Exhibitors who sign up to attend the 2023 event will be given the option of purchasing a tree, to be planted at a nominated golf course.

BIGGA launches ‘Plant a Tree for BTME’

BIGGA launches ‘Plant a Tree for BTME’

It is hoped that over the years sufficient trees will be planted to create a network of ‘BTME community woodlands’ around the UK, with Harrogate Golf Club the first club to participate in the scheme.

With individual trees capturing up to 1 tonne of carbon dioxide from our air over its lifetime, the scheme will raise awareness of the carbon footprint generated by major events such as BTME and be a flagship initiative as BIGGA seeks to improve its sustainable practices, as is echoed at forward-thinking golf facilities everywhere.

BIGGA Membership Services Manager for Sustainability James Hutchinson said: “The idea of planting trees as a means of offsetting carbon generated by people travelling to attend BTME was first proposed by a BIGGA member a couple of months ago and it is something that struck me as making a lot of sense. Those who know me know that I’m a dendrophile – I love trees – and as we explored the possibility further we uncovered schemes such as the National Trust’s pledge to plant 20 million trees by 2030, so it just made a lot of sense to get involved.

“It is always important to take great care when selecting what trees to plant on a golf course as not all species are appropriate or will generate the desired result, but by working with courses that are eager to create areas of woodland for the wider community, we believe this scheme will help to raise awareness of the good work that golf courses are doing to protect the natural environment.”

Harrogate Golf Club’s course manager, Ken Ward, said: “An old employer of mine once told me, ‘we’re just custodians of this land’. That rang true with me. We’re not here for that long but we want to leave it in a better place than we found it. This is an opportunity to get our members and two local primary schools involved with a project on the golf course, which is a fantastic thing.”

Plant a Tree for BTME is just one of a number of initiatives that BIGGA has undertaken to reduce the carbon footprint of BTME. BTME returns from 24 to 26 January 2023 at the Harrogate Convention Centre. The event is free to attend and for more information visit www.btme.org.uk

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Collier Turf Care seminars back with a bang

Collier Turf Care seminars back with a bang: After a pandemic-enforced two-and-a-half-year break, Collier Turf Care were delighted to resume their ever-popular bowls seminars. Hosted alongside Robert Jack and Andy Walker of Dennis and SISIS, over 40 attendees across two days were able to listen to talks on industry relevant issues, see some excellent machinery demonstrations and take part in thorough Q&A’s.

John Noyce & Chris Humphrey of Collier Turf Care led the presentations covering all things bowls! Turf disease, pests and future methods of prevention were top of the agenda. After a very informative morning the attendees were led outside to watch a very interactive demonstration of Dennis and SISIS’s latest equipment – after being fuelled by a hearty lunch of course.

Collier Turf Care seminars back with a bang

Collier Turf Care seminars back with a bang

The day was enjoyed by all and we would like to thank both Horley Bowls Club and Newick Bowls Club for being excellent hosts and also providing the brilliant weather!


We were so blessed with a perfect spring day for the Seminar jointly hosted by our friends from Collier Turf Care in association with Dennis and SISIS.

After morning coffees, we were treated to a talk on Disease Management from Chris Humphrey followed by another very interesting insight into Earthworm Management by John Noyce, both representing Colliers.

After lunch, the Fine Turf Management talk and Machine demonstrations by Rob Jack and Andy Walker from Dennis/SISIS showed off some very nice machines.

All in all, we had a very informative and enjoyable day and everyone who attended got a great deal out of it.

Brian Wilson – Greenkeeper (Horley Bowls Club)

Just wanted to say thank you to you and all your team at Horley Bowls club, yesterday, for an excellent day.

Found all the talks and demonstration very interesting and informative. All in all, we had a very informative and enjoyable day and everyone who attended got a great deal out of it.

Philip Waterman – Tandridge District Council

The events also saw the launch of our new Bowling Green Groundsman’s Maintenance Guide. This booklet is full of excellent tips and advice on keeping your bowls green looking its best. To get your copy please get in touch with your local Collier Turf Care representative or call our offices on 01328 700600.

If you are interested in updates of future seminars or think that your club would be interested in hosting such an event, please get in touch by emailing benb@collier-turf-care.co.uk

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Mastenbroek enjoys a resurgence

Mastenbroek enjoys a resurgence: The UK’s leading designer of drainage trenchers has reported an unexpected resurgence of interest in its specialist sports field machine.

Last month, Mastenbroek received its first order for one of its 10/12D trenchers in over a decade.

Mastenbroek enjoys a resurgence

Mastenbroek enjoys a resurgence

The machine, which has recently been upgraded to feature the latest low-emission engine and improved operator controls, has been bought by AgriPower.

Established in 1964 as an agricultural drainage contractor, AgriPower entered the sports turf industry in 1978. The company has won several large contracts in the last six months, creating the need for a new machine.

The 2022 10/12D will work alongside AgriPower’s other Mastenbroek machines: a 30/20, 20/15 and CT12.

“We have never retired the 10/12D,” says Mastenbroek’s commercial director, Christopher Pett. “It’s always been available, but for some unknown reason, we haven’t sold one since 2009. That changed late last year when Graham Longdin at AgriPower contacted us. Since then, it’s been a bit like the saying about London buses and, following Graham’s order, we sold another 10/12D and received four other enquiries about it!”

AgriPower, which is based in Buckinghamshire but operates across the country, secured several large contracts at the back end of 2021, including work at the Webb Ellis Fields for Rugby school, several other public schools, local authorities and golf courses.

“We have enjoyed a buoyant period recently, with a significant number of organisations wanting to install new sports fields or improve the drainage of existing playing fields and golf courses, which is great news for us,” says Mr Longdin, director at AgriPower.

“With the new contracts coming on top of a very successful recent trading period, we’ve decided to update our front line machines to remain ahead of the game.

“The Mastenbroek 10/12D was the ideal choice. We could use a spinning disc type trencher behind a tractor, which would be fine on graded pitch work, but when faced with undulating ground, deep or wide trenching, the disc trenchers cannot cope, and fail to give the required accuracy. The 10/12D handles this type of terrain effortlessly.

“The 10/12D offers exceptional comfort for the driver, and its controls make it easy to oversee tracking and chain speed. It offers an attractive cost of ownership, especially as it now features the latest stage five emission engines.”

For further information about the 10/12D and the wider Mastenbroek range, please visit www.mastenbroek.com, email info@mastenbroek.com or call +44 1205 311 313.

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A gentle touch from TYM

A gentle touch from TYM: The Ashley Wood Golf Club in Dorset has returned to Reesink Turfcare and TYM after experiencing what its compact utility tractor line has to offer in terms of gentle and productive operation for its historically significant and environmentally protected site.

Open all year round, the 18-hole course was built in 1896, right over the Iron Age hillfort Buzbury Rings, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, which has part of the course protected under Historic England regulations. All of this means extreme care is required with day-to-day maintenance as well as the machines used in the process.

A gentle touch from TYM

A gentle touch from TYM

This important job falls upon the greenkeeping team, comprised of five members including head greenkeeper Mark Sherwood, who has been at the club since 1992 and thus has amassed an incredible amount of knowledge, vital for the protection of the site.

“Because The Ashley Wood Golf Club sits in a protected zone, we need light machines that don’t compact the ground or cause any damage with the tyres,” Mark explains. “It’s a woodland area on top of the hills so it’s always windy, cold and dry, and requires quite a bit of aeration work. We use the tractors for this and they’re really productive and have been very handy cutting down some of the work for us.

“However, two years ago, we had an issue with the tractors we had at the time from a different brand – the lift capacity just wasn’t enough and the machines were straining under the weight of the aerator. This was, of course, very worrying from a safety and efficiency point of view, so we decided we needed to upgrade.

“We made contact with people with experience of using TYM and who were happy with their performance,” he recalls. “We had a demo with the T433, a 43hp machine with a loader, and it impressed us. The performance and reliability were unbeatable and made such a difference when compared to our old tractors; the hydraulic lift was remarkable for such a small machine and made quick work around the course.”

Mark was so pleased with his purchase that he recently went back to TYM distributor Reesink for another order: this time not only acquiring a second tractor, the T395, but also a TYM BY85 backhoe for use on the T433 helping with construction and maintenance work around the club, while the T395 is now being used primarily for greens aeration.

“Both the T433 and the T395 are very uncomplicated and easy to use,” he says. “Nothing much ever goes wrong with them and if and when it does, the servicing is very straight-forward. With four to five different operators, some of them not fully experienced at driving a tractor, knowing they wouldn’t struggle with operating the machines and could get them on the course and running quickly was a big selling point for us.

“Due to the weather, we also required cabbed tractors that would protect us from the elements and provide enough comfort for the six to seven hours we spend outside,” Mark continues. “TYM accomplishes that – we even got ourselves a heater to help keep us warm while we ride, and it’s made the lads want to use the machines all the time now!”

As for his experience with Reesink, Mark has only good things to say: “The fact that there were major supply delays going around due to the pandemic still, yet we were able to receive our order within three months of buying even though the models weren’t even in the country at the time, was amazing,” Mark points out. “We’re very happy with our dealer; they’re there when we need them and their products are exactly as described. I’m over the moon with the service and cannot praise them enough.”

To find out more about the TYM range and the tractor attachments available from Reesink call 01480 226800, email info@reesinkturfcare.co.uk, or visit reesinkturfcare.co.uk

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