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Good things come to those who wait…

Good things come to those who wait…: Scott MacCallum catches up with the most patient man in greenkeeping – Paul Larsen, who has had to wait an additional 12 months to prepare an Open Championship course.

The Open Championship at Royal St George’s Golf Club is going to be a wonderful event.

Good things come to those who wait…

Good things come to those who wait…

The course, one of the best on the Open rota, will be in immaculate condition, the weather will be superb and the golf will be exciting, irrespective of how many spectators are there to create the galleries.

How can I be so sure? Well, I’m merely following the old adage “Good things come to those who wait”, and oh how the club, and, in particular, Head Greenkeeper Paul Larsen and his team have had to wait.

At the beginning of last year everything was on track for The Open, in July. The long and medium term planning had gone well and Paul and his team were hoping for a good spell of weather in the months ahead so that the course would be fast and running, just how the R&A like it.

And then…

The decision was taken to postpone the Championship for a year on April 6, and immediately the date, which had been penned into the diary since 2017, when Royal St George’s hosting was announced, disappeared over the horizon.

“To be honest when the news about the postponement came through my mind wasn’t really on The Open. It was on the virus,” recalled Paul.

“I only had five people in, including myself, everyone else was on furlough, and we were just doing the bare essentials on the course to keep it going, as we were instructed to do. We also had the heatwave at the same time so we were hand watering everywhere and not really cutting.

“To be fair the fescue was thriving but The Open was suddenly in the background,” said Paul, who admitted that he was one of the first to take the virus seriously.

“Without going OTT we were doing all the cleaning of hands and equipment, which eventually was official advice, from the very beginning.”

With the US Open being moved from June to September, The Masters moving to November and some European Tour events being played before the original Open date, there were thoughts that a slightly shorter delay may be possible but Paul was pleased that the ultimate outcome was the end result.

“They have considered holding it later in the year but had they moved it to September there would have been light issues and it would have had to have been a reduced field, but around that time we were going into quite a severe lockdown.

“I personally think they made the right decision. There was no messing about, and everyone’s health came first,” said Paul.

The postponement was announcement before any of the huge stands or marquees had been erected but most of the underground infrastructure, TV cabling etc, was in place.

“In a way it has meant that they had a head start for this year,” reasoned Paul.

The club took the greenkeeping staff off furlough when it was deemed safe to do so and they took the opportunity to carry out work that was possible with the course devoid of golfers.

“It was great by the club that they took everyone off furlough and it meant we could get a lot of work done. We’ve done a lot of path reshaping which would have been difficult with golfers on the course and we’ve cleaned out a sand dune behind the 4th green, an area which might be in play.”

Ironically, the original Open week was an exceptionally busy one at Royal St George’s.

“We held an Open tournament for the members which was open to everyone and people could play off the Championship tees if they wanted to. We were getting 120 people playing each day and the weather was great and the course looked and played really well.

“So it would have been great for The Open if it was played.”

In fact, the week before history was made with the first ever professional ladies’ event held over the old links. The Justin Rose Series, a wonderful initiative to give ladies playing opportunities in these strange times, was played with a strong field of professional lady golfers. Gemma Dryburgh, of Scotland, was the first to have a Royal St George’s victory on her record, with a one under par round of 69.

With everything planned for, and geared up for, a particular week in the diary, having that date move by 12 months could have been deflating for Paul and his team. But not so.

“Keeping motivated, a problem?

Good things come to those who wait…

Good things come to those who wait…

Good question but ‘No’, in a word. The story goes back to when we lost a lot of grass in the drought of 2018. We hadn’t really recovered from that so when we were moved back a year we had great fairways and great playing surfaces in general, but our semi rough was quite hard to get back and contained quite a bit of soft broom.

“So the motivation has been to get that up to scratch . The guys have been hand-dressing the semi. I didn’t want top dressers over it, so we’ve done it in the old-fashioned manner.

The motivation was always there, but the extra 12 months has given us extra motivation to get it better.”

It actually made the very next question a little redundant, but being a stubborn so-and-so, I asked it anyway.

“Was there a date in the calendar that you went back into Championship mode?”

Not too bad eh? But an obvious answer…

But I did get a little more.

“At the end of the day, without the team I’ve got here the results wouldn’t be possible. They’ve been out hand shoveling top dressing day after day, over and over.

They’ve got on with it. It’s not just the hours they’ve put in, it’s the physical energy required to do it.

“I’ve worked on many golf courses and a lot of people think that you just sit on machines in the summer and that it’s easy. We do a lot of hand cutting here and it is physically demanding. They are very fi t from it and they have been absolutely brilliant for me,” said Paul.

Like all Head men Paul is rarely happy with the weather which is dished up to him – a Greenkeeper’s Rain Dance should be up there with the likes of the Argentine Tango and Charleston as a Strictly standard – and sure enough spring didn’t cut the mustard.

“We wanted a good spring, but we didn’t get it. However, this month (May) we’ve had 68mil so that’s rejuvenated everything. Had we had gone from a dry spring to a dry hot summer we’d have got no germination and all our work would have been done and we’d have had no dividend from it. But with all this rain you can see it coming up.”

Elsewhere the delay has meant that the bunkers will be a year older than they would have been.

“We didn’t build any the year before as we didn’t want them to look brand new but with quite a hard winter with a lot of snow we are finding cracks in some of them so we will be finding a way of freshening them up. I’ve got a few techniques to get them right, but they are at the end of their five year cycle.”

For the week itself Paul has had to tweak his original plan and call on his neighbouring golf clubs for help.

Good things come to those who wait…

Good things come to those who wait…

“It will be an unusual Open because normal the team and volunteers stay on site in Bunkabins for the 10 days before and during the Championship. Now everyone has to leave the site and go home at the end of each day and I have had to get 25 local volunteers to help. Normally we have guys for the other Open rota courses but that’s not happening either.”

So 25 local greenkeepers will have the opportunity of experiencing an Open.

“We’ve got to plan what each one will be doing, and we are hoping that they will come for a day’s training beforehand.

There will always be one of my guys with them. It’s going to be interesting. I’ll let you know how it goes after The Open.”

Thinking back to the last Royal St George’s Open – Darren Clarke’s popular win in 2011 – Paul, Deputy at the time had a job he is very pleased to be relinquishing.

“I was painting the holes and I couldn’t relax until the final hole was cut and white painted. I’m glad I’m not doing it this time!”

Despite having been the greenkeeper who has had to show more patience than any other in modern times for his Open to arrive, Paul hasn’t let his mind wander to the week itself.

“I don’t live for the future. I always have a plan, but I don’t particularly think about how I’m going to be feeling. I just accept it on the day. It is what it is, otherwise you are just worrying about what it is going to be like.”

But I really don’t think Paul and his team should be worrying. As I say “Good things come to those who wait”

TriCure AD™ & Terafirm™ combo come to the rescue

TriCure AD™ & Terafirm™ combo come to the rescue: With the Jacobean-style mansion providing the backdrop to some of the courses 18 parkland holes, Warwickshire’s Welcombe Golf Club delivers undulations which are a challenge to player and greenkeeper alike.

In charge of the maintenance is Golf Course & Estates Manager Richard Sheldon who, with a rather aged fleet of equipment at his disposal, has turned to a combination of TriCure AD™ and Terafirm™ from Headland Amenity to tackle the issue of water management.

TriCure AD™ & Terafirm™ combo come to the rescue

TriCure AD™ & Terafirm™ combo come to the rescue

Richard’s first task when he joined the club in January 2020 was to assess his inherited fleet of machinery and spotted the notable absence of a deep aerator. “Our greens are constructed using rootzone and have the ability to drain well but due to the lack of deep aeration we were getting very shallow rooting caused by a pan layer, which also affected the distribution of moisture through the profile” explains Richard, who is assisted by a team of three. In addition, when Richard decided to fire up the club’s irrigation system during the first national lockdown, he found that around 90% of the tee sprinklers were broken! Thankfully, his knowledge and experience of Headland’s TriCure AD™ saved the day.

“It was a really hot period and we were seeing a loss of coverage on both the greens and the tees very quickly. We began using TriCure AD™ on the greens, which helped to retain any moisture near the surface, and in turn the roots, but this also penetrated through the pan layer and in just twelve months, the pan effect has gone. Our recent soil samples showed new deeper rooting through the profile. We also used TriCure AD™ on the tees and, alongside getting the sprinklers replaced, this undoubtedly saved the tees.”

TriCure AD™ multi-molecular soil surfactant improves soil surface dry-down and prevents hydrophobic conditions. Its three different active surfactant chemistries mean that it can treat all types of rootzone particles and can be applied at much lower rates (like for like) than competitor surfactants. “We are now applying TriCure AD™ on a monthly basis throughout the summer, on all greens, tees and approaches. In the winter we switch over to monthly applications of Terafirm™ advanced soil penetrant which has been really impressive.”

“Because we try and keep inputs to a minimum as part of our organic matter control, you can just begin to tell when the Terafirm™ is reaching the end of its field longevity and then, after spraying, the difference is quickly noticeable – the greens are firm, dry and free-from puddling. We had some lovely feedback from local Course Managers on the condition of our greens, even following the heavy rainfall we saw in January of this year.”

Richard concludes, “I used Headland products at my previous club and have always been impressed with the results. This is the first time I’ve been responsible for pricing up supplies and, having seen that the Headland products were competitive, we have converted our entire nutritional programme over to Headland over the last 15 months with fantastic results course-wide.”

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Good things come in small packages

Good things come in small packages: ‘Good things come in small packages’ has never been truer than when discussing the TYM T194 compact utility tractor. Packed with all the key features and functions of a larger tractor but in a neat and compact package, the T194 truly offers the best of both worlds.  

Delivering power, productivity, versatility and efficiency, the T194 has been designed with simplicity and practically in mind. The 19hp Yanmar three-cylinder engine packs a punch and gives you all the power you need, while its 650kg weight means it’s light enough to avoid damaging turf.

Good things come in small packages

Good things come in small packages

Its powerful HST transmission includes the fatigue busting ‘auto throttle’ system which conveniently links the HST pedal to the engine throttle. Equipped as standard with a 54-inch mid-mounted deck, with cutting heights from one to four inches, mowing heights can be adjusted from the operator’s seat via the onboard height-of-cut lever which is easy and intuitive to set. Plus, the T194 can also be specified with a front loader, further enhancing the uses for this small but powerful machine.

For customers looking to do more, the tractor comes with category one three-point linkage and 540 rpm rear PTO which allows for numerous rear-mounted attachments to be fitted and enabling it to be used for other tasks such as sweeping and aerating.

This is all topped off with a simple and easy to understand dash panel that gives the operator an overview of all the tractor’s functions, in addition to the overall control layout which has been designed with user operation in mind, for seamless and easy control.

The customer reviews for the T194 speak for themselves. The T194 was recently praised as being “instrumental” in the management of Douglas and Alex Chalmers’ Nags Head Farm in Cumbria.

“We use the tractor around three times a week, and it’s been instrumental in getting jobs done around the farm; we would have really struggled without it,” says Douglas.

“It’s a bit like Goldilocks. Not too big, not too small, but just right. Any bigger and it would be impractical as it wouldn’t be able to manoeuvre between the trees we have. Any smaller and it wouldn’t have the power to work on our hilly and boggy areas. It’s also very user-friendly and easy to operate, which is great.”

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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Good things come to those who wait

Good things come to those who wait: It was a deal a couple of years in the making for Hainault Golf Club in Chigwell, Essex, as it changed machinery brands and settled on a large fleet with Toro and Reesink, and it was worth the wait according to course manager Paul Selbie.

Choosing a new machinery brand and partnering with a new distributor are two big decisions, requiring research and demonstrations, and it can take time to be sure it’s the right move for the future of the club. But actually, Paul says, the decision to commit to Toro and Reesink Turfcare was a straight-forward one, made with no hesitation: “This was my first machinery fleet deal at Hainault. I appreciate it’s a big thing to step away from what the club and team have known and relied on for a long time, but with the previous machines well-overdue an upgrade, it was the right time to present all the options to the team.

Good things come to those who wait

Good things come to those who wait

“Everyone was involved and while I had used Toro previously, no one else had,” Paul continues.” The feedback was really interesting from the demos and it brought everything to the table, not just the performance of the machines, but the bigger picture. For example, was Reesink the right distributor, was Richard Freeman the right contact and would the support and back-up be there?

“The Reesink team was really involved in demoing the Toro machines with us and you could clearly see this was important to them. Richard made it feel like the beginning of a long-term relationship, it certainly wasn’t just a deal to him.”

Paul says the machines ability to cope with the two courses which are both hilly, parkland and tree-lined, led the team to unanimously conclude that Toro suited the lay of the land and performed very well. And while there could have been better machines out there for certain aspects of course maintenance, what couldn’t be bettered was the whole package and the deal was done in 2018.

So why the delay in the process? Well, that comes down to factors out of Paul’s control such as renegotiating the lease of the land, Paul says: “We had to press pause and while it was frustrating, it was worth the wait to receive them in 2020 of all years. We’ve had the time to get to know the machines, their capabilities and can confirm that Toro really does exceed in terms of efficiency. That counted and meant that despite a reduced work force the course was in excellent shape when we opened back up again after lockdown.”

Included in the order are two Toro Greensmaster TriFlex 3400 mowers, two Greensmaster 3250-D mowers, two Reelmaster 5610-D mowers, a Groundsmaster 3500-D mower, the Groundsmaster 1200 towed rotary mower, a Workman GTX utility vehicle and a GreensPro 1260 greens roller.

Paul says: “It is a fleet predominantly focused on frontline machines, but with further investment plans in place for the next couple of years, that won’t be the case for long. Business is good, the course is presenting really well and we’re planning on putting Toro through its paces with some improvement projects over the winter months too so we’re in a positive place with some exciting things to look forward to.”

To talk to someone about the finance options available and how the Toro range would suit your course, call 01480 226800.

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Bonding artificial grass, come rain or shine

Bonding artificial grass, come rain or shine: With the temperamental British weather we have, attempting to bond in damp conditions is the bane of many artificial grass installers lives.  Wasted days, hours and even weeks waiting for the optimum conditions to bond the carpet are costing the industry time, money and even penalty clauses as the job gets delayed and pushed back.

One of the most common adhesive systems used for bonding artificial grass to seam tape is a two-component polyurethane adhesive.  These systems give an excellent bond and there are many products, from well known brands, which are available.

Bonding artificial grass, come rain or shine

Bonding artificial grass, come rain or shine

But there is a universal problem with these commonly available products.  They can’t cope with bonding in damp conditions.

This issue has been apparent for many years but now there is a solution to this problem – Henko R300

Henko R300 is a two-component polyurethane adhesive which has been developed by Dutch company, Henko A&T, which specifically overcomes this issue.

This unique formulation allows the adhesive to be bonded in damp conditions, so when the day is wet you can continue doing what you are best at doing – getting the job done

One new client of Ureka said “My colleague told me that Henko R300 would bond in we conditions unlike your competition.  I didn’t believe him and told him to prove it by bonding some grass which was in a puddle fully submerged.  So he did and it cured – I couldn’t believe it!”

Bonding artificial grass, come rain or shine

Bonding artificial grass, come rain or shine

Packed in either a 6.85kg or 13.7kg kit, R300 is easy to mix, easy to spread and gives an excellent strength when fully cured.

Used widely in high performance applications like football and rugby fields, R300 is rapidly becoming the preferred choice for grass bonding adhesive.  Equally, R300 performs well in domestic, leisure and other sports field applications

Henko products are available in UK through their dedicated stockist and distributor Ureka Global Ltd, who also have the full range of adhesives, tools and maintenance equipment in stock

For further details, please contact Ureka Global Ltd on 0117 971 1364, email sales@thenamethatsticks.com, or visit our website, www.thenamethatsticks.com

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