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VGR TopChanger plays its part in Open preparations

VGR TopChanger plays its part in Open preparations: Preparations are well underway for the 152nd Open, taking place at Royal Troon this July. The Old Course has undergone some alterations since it last hosted the prestigious event back in 2016 including eight new tees and an overall lengthening of the course to just under 7400 yards.

Another new addition is a VGR TopChanger to the machinery shed of Course Manager Billy McLachlan and his team. He explains how the purchase of the TopChanger has significantly enhanced drainage and firmed up the playing surfaces since its delivery in September 2022.

VGR TopChanger plays its part in Open preparations

VGR TopChanger plays its part in Open preparations

Widely recognised as of the greatest links courses, Royal Troon are hosting the Open Championship for the 10th time in 2024 – the preparations for which are on track and in safe hands under Billy’s stewardship, who has been at the venue for over 40 years. In that time, he’s witnessed much in the way of technological development when it comes to maintenance equipment. “Sand injection is something that I looked at probably 12 to 15 years ago but, at the time, the machinery just didn’t deliver” he says. “More recently, effective solutions have become available bringing multiple benefits to plant health and the profile more generally. We’d been utilising the services of a contractor to conduct the operation for us, who did a good job but in wanting to increase the frequency in line with R&A recommendations, it became more economical to explore purchasing a machine of our own.”

Following an impressive demonstration, the club opted to purchase a TopChanger from VGR Equipment. The TopChanger uses high pressure waterpower to aerate the soil, with the option to simultaneously fill the channels with wet or dry sand – preventing anaerobic conditions, improving drainage and diluting organic matter throughout the profile. “Tom Peter from VGR brought the TopChanger in and we immediately thought it was brilliant. The flexibility of having our own machine, meaning we could conduct passes more frequently and, importantly, when the weather conditions were right made both financial and agronomic sense.”

“We were out in the Autumn of 2022, conducting one pass at a depth of 10” and a secondary pass at a shallower 3” before the weather turned” Billy explains. “Autumn 2023 saw us completing a further four passes on all 18 greens. Compared to other methods of aeration, the surface disruption is minimal and isn’t too much of a drain on our available labour and resources. The results are speaking for themselves, emerging from a very wet winter with the greens performing exactly as we need them to.”

He concludes, “It’s already proven to be a brilliant investment, which will also be put to good use on the Portland Course as well as the Old Course again later this year. The support from VGR throughout has also been first-class.”

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