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EcoBunker enhances links feel at Golf Valley

EcoBunker enhances links feel at Golf Valley: Built between 2007-8 by architect David Krause, Golf Valley is a major development, around 35km south of Munich.

Created by developer Michael Weichselgartner with the aim of hosting major tournaments and the Ryder Cup, Golf Valley was built in a links-style, with over 3,000 sq m (32,000 sq ft) of bunker sand area and, according to Andy Matzner, the club’s first course manager, who now works there in a consulting capacity, has always struggled with the impact of rain on its bunker faces.

EcoBunker enhances links feel at Golf Valley

EcoBunker enhances links feel at Golf Valley

“With such a massive area of sand, it was always a huge workload every time there was serious rain,” says Matzner. “In Bavaria, in the early summer, there are regular lightning storms, and every time there was a rain event, the whole greenkeeping crew would be occupied pushing sand back up the faces. And then the next day, it would happen again! I had real difficulty motivating my staff to keep shifting sand, and obviously the impact on our maintenance costs was huge.”

Matzner, by then consulting at Golf Valley, met Richard Allen, founder of synthetic bunker edging solution provider EcoBunker, in 2017. “By that time, I had realised that the bad weather, and the consequent washouts, were just something we had to deal with,” he says. “Golf Valley has no trees, and the course is quite links-like in look and feel, and it occurred to me that revetted walls, sensitively installed, would fit in nicely, and would give the place a more authentic links character. Richard visited and assessed the bunkers, and agreed with me that revetting would improve both their appearance and their performance, so we commissioned EcoBunker to install its product on an initial 200 sq m of bunkerfaces.”

That project, in spring 2018, was handled by EcoBunker construction manager Llewelyn Matthews. Covering thirteen bunkers, Matzner and the Golf Valley team were impressed by the results. “A revetted wall in sunlight and shadow looks very impressive,” he says. “But the most important thing was the prevention of washouts. A flat sandy bunker never washes out. It may fill up but so long as the drain operates effectively, the bunker will always work.”

In late 2019, Golf Valley was hit by a huge rain event. Almost every bunker, apart from the ones that had been rebuilt by EcoBunker, was virtually destroyed. The EcoBunkers survived the storm completely intact. At this point, owner Weichselgartner decided that as many as possible of the course’s bunkers should be rebuilt using the EcoBunker solution. The EcoBunker team came back on site in October 2020 to build the next set of bunkers. That project was substantially completed in December, and Matzner says the results are impressive. “The course looks much more like a real links now, and the bunkers perform far better,” he explains. “And that is all down to EcoBunker.”

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New partnership benefits Leven Links

New partnership benefits Leven Links: Golfers visiting Leven Links Golf Course in Fife are often unaware that they are playing, in part, over one of the oldest pieces of golfing land in the world. This is a traditional links with rolling fairways, many of which are lined by ancient sand dunes, fast putting surfaces, burns and pot bunkers.

The club dates back to 1820 although golf only started being played here in 1846, and it is thought that the original layout became the first course that century to boast both 18 tees and 18 greens. Leven Links also lays claim to hosting the oldest open amateur strokeplay championship in the world.

New partnership benefits Leven Links

New partnership benefits Leven Links

The Standard Life Assurance Company’s Amateur Champion Gold Medal has been held here since 1870, with more recent winners including Lee Westwood and Andrew Coltart. It also hosts the historic Lindsay Shield, an interclub match between Leven, St Andrews and Carnoustie which can be traced back over 150 years.

Establishing a new heritage is the aim of course manager David Gray, who took over here in September 2018 after a period as head greenkeeper at Ladybank Golf Club, also in Fife. David, who is a BIGGA Central Section Scotland committee member, believes there is a lot of potential to bring Leven Links back to a pre-eminent position by once more hosting big events and putting its name firmly back on the golfing map.

Two clubs share the course, Leven Golfing Society and Leven Thistle, and this comes with its own challenges, says David. The sheer volume of competitive golf generates a lot of work to meet the required standards and means the pressure on the small greenkeeping team is constant.

“It’s great to have the opportunity to manage my own course in the way I’d like,” says David. “Expectations are high, and we’re trying to produce the best possible conditions on a day to day basis. This has meant the introduction of more modern techniques and cultural practices, as well as investment in up to date course machinery.

“With the exception of my deputy Gary McLaren, who has spent an impressive 30 years at Leven Links, I have been able to build a fantastic new team who have adapted very well to my strategies and are loving the introduction of the new equipment. Teamwork is hugely important in our industry and with staff working independently towards the same end goal, the collective results are so rewarding.”

As part of this initial modernisation process, a ProGator utility vehicle equipped with an HD200 amenity turf sprayer was bought from local John Deere dealer Double A at Cupar. This provides more accuracy and precision plus a bigger tank capacity than the course’s previous mounted sprayer, and led to the clubs’ first John Deere machinery deal being agreed with the dealership in late 2019, as part of a new partnership approach.

The fleet now also includes 2500E hybrid electric and 2550 E-Cut triplex greens mowers, another ProGator with a Dakota top dresser, TE electric and HPX diesel Gator utility vehicles and an R Series walk-behind rotary mower plus ancillary products including a Wessex collector and a Tru-Turf greens roller, for which Double A is the official UK distributor.

“There was no structured machinery replacement strategy in place when I came to the club, so this was one of the first things we had to address to improve the overall course quality and presentation, as well as reliability of the equipment,” says David.

“I made a proposal to the Leven Links Joint Committee, and their support has been fantastic, bearing in mind we are breaking completely new ground for the clubs with this deal. Now we have an established plan and we’re always talking about what happens next, so it’s very much a continuing process.

“We opted for a John Deere Financial lease deal, which proved to be extremely flexible as not only could we defer payments due to Covid-19, we were also able to bundle in an extra machine, the HPX Gator,” says David. “We had great support too from John Bateson of Double A, and both of these aspects were key factors in making the deal happen very quickly and smoothly.

“Our cutting regimes have changed as well since bringing in the new Tru-Turf roller. John Deere cutting units are set up differently to our previous mowers and the clip rates are higher, so by using the roller we can miss out the odd cut now and again, which is a great bonus given the pressures on play.

“My past experience with Double A has been worth a lot, especially having them on the doorstep and knowing I can rely on the same level of service I’ve always received,” adds David. “They helped me to focus on exactly what I needed to fit in with my plans for the course, and we’re already benefiting from that and the great technological strides John Deere has made in recent years with its product range.”

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Irish links extends bunker longevity

Irish links extends bunker longevity: The Island GC outside Dublin, generally regarded as one of Ireland’s finest courses, has rebuilt a large proportion of its revetted bunkers using a new solution from synthetic bunker solutions provider EcoBunker.

The course, which is currently undergoing a renovation at the hands of architects Mackenzie and Ebert, has adopted a new approached created by EcoBunker inventor and CEO Richard Allen, that sees the bottom six turf layers of the revetted wall built from synthetic turf, while the rest is natural.

Irish links extends bunker longevity

“Revetted bunkers decay from the bottom up, which is only to be expected because it is the bottom of the wall that is most exposed to water,” says Allen. “When the bottom of the wall fails, wind and rain get in behind the revet and remove sand, eventually causing the wall to collapse. With synthetic turf at the base, this will not happen, and the longevity of the wall will be significantly enhanced.”

“Setting the base of a revetted bunker is the part of the build that takes the most time,” says course manager Dave Edmondson. “With the EcoBunker base in place, all we will have to do when it comes to rebuilding the wall is to remove the natural revet with a spade and replace the turf. Six layers of artificial turf is a totally solid base on which to build the rest of the wall. It’s not going to move. Our revetted bunkers normally last between three and five years – south facing ones degrade faster than others – so the improvement using this EcoBunker method could be quite substantial.”

Edmondson says it is hard to see a downside of this new method. “We have to buy in my revetting turf, so putting in a synthetic base will actually make rebuilding cheaper in the future,” he explains. “And there is absolutely zero aesthetic impact. When the sand is ready for play, the synthetic turf is all below the sand line. Everything you can see is natural; it looks just like a normal revetted bunker.”

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Bruntsfield Links’ New Toro Fleet

Bruntsfield Links’ New Toro Fleet: A £1.2 million investment in the 18-hole course at one of the world’s oldest golf clubs, Bruntsfield Links Golfing Society in Edinburgh, has concluded with the arrival of a brand new Toro fleet of machinery to safeguard the investment.

As course manager Neil Hogg says, you don’t create something of this quality if you don’t have the machinery to keep it at its best: “This is our first package deal and the timing coincides with the conclusion of the extensive revamp of the course by golf course architects Mackenzie and Ebert. The course has been designed around a very modern spec and reflects the way golf is played in the 21st Century. We knew we needed a package deal to take care of the course and deliver the results it deserves.”

Bruntsfield Links' New Toro Fleet

The main objective of the redesign was to keep the original Dr Mackenzie shapes and feel but bring it up-to-date. Mackenzie and Ebert follow in the footprints of past course work completed by Willie Park Jnr, Dr Alister Mackenzie, James Braid and Fred Hawtree.

“Despite being an Open qualifying venue since 2011, there hadn’t been any changes to the course since the early 1970s,” Neil says.

There are now eight new holes and more than 80 bunkers which have been redesigned and repositioned to reflect the distances club golfers are now striking the ball, plus the course has been restored to a par 71 to create longer play. The 12th & 13th holes were combined to create a challenging dog leg par five into a prevailing wind and a new signature par three hole at the 16th over a pond has been introduced.

And already Neil notes the improvements are making a big difference for the club: “The course improvements were designed to elevate Bruntsfield to be one of the top parkland courses in Scotland. The works have only recently finished, but have made such a difference and been so well received, we’ve surged up the Top 100 Golf Courses list by 69 places. Plus, we’ve seen an increase in membership too and now have an extensive waiting list in place.”

However, the equipment in the shed wasn’t quite so shiny and new, as Neil explains: “The shed was previously a mixed bag of machines. Some were getting on for 30 years old and the machinery that made up the fleet as a whole hadn’t really been considered. With Dougie, our CEO’s guidance, plus that of Reesink’s Stuart Tait and David Raitt, we looked at how we could streamline things and ensure the best for the future of the course.”

Dougie Cleeton enjoyed a successful tenure as managing secretary of Blairgowrie Golf Club before joining Bruntsfield and bringing with him sound knowledge of what to expect with the redesign of a course, says Neil: “We were lucky to get Dougie, he’d been involved in similar projects before and brought with him a wealth of experience. Together we went through the machines in the shed and planned the new fleet.”

Included in the deal are two Reelmaster 3575-D fairway mowers, two Reelmaster 3100-D mowers with Sidewinders, five Greensmaster 1000 pedestrian mowers, two Greensmaster 3250-D ride-on greens mowers, a Workman MDX utility vehicle and a TYM 503 heavy-duty tractor.

“The new fleet is delivering on our expectations. All the staff love using the machines, the fairway mowers are so nimble and light, and the pedestrian mowers in particular are a big hit. Plus, maintenance and servicing are a lot easier.”

Neil finishes by saying: “It’s the perfect end to a successful project. We started out with quality and longevity in mind and we conclude with it too. The machines will respect the course and bring out its best for years to come.”

For more information, visit: reesinkturfcare.co.uk

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John Deere Key At Dumbarnie Links

John Deere Key At Dumbarnie Links: A brand new 18-hole golf course development on the south coast of Fife is coming, with Dumbarnie Links set to be open for play by spring 2020. The 165ha development reflects the historical location of a links course and sports club at Dumbarnie dating back to the 1830s.

Luke Beardmore of OB Sports Golf Management – the US firm hired to manage Dumbarnie – and John Deere dealer Sandy Armit of Double A signed a partnership deal last year for the supply of grow-in and maintenance equipment for this exciting £11 million project, which is supported by the local landowner Lord Balniel of Balcarres.

John Deere Key At Dumbarnie Links

Designed by former Walker Cup and Ryder Cup player Clive Clark, Dumbarnie Links is notable for featuring sea views on all 18 holes. The course manager is local man Grahame Taylor, who grew up in Leven and came from the Old Course at nearby St Andrews.

“The vision for Dumbarnie Links has been to provide a first class, true links style golf experience of international quality for all to enjoy,” said Luke Beardmore. “The golf course will be operated as a pay-and-play facility, with no members’ club or fees, and will be open to the public for a daily green fee. It has been designed and laid out to the highest standard while also respecting the coastal setting and environmental designations within the vicinity.”

Largo Bay to the south of the site forms part of a wider designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Protection Area (SPA) and Wetland of International Importance (RAMSAR Site). The Fife Coastal Path and Dumbarnie Links Scottish Wildlife Trust Reserve are also adjacent to the site boundaries.

“Due to extremely favourable weather conditions last year the golf course construction work took just six months to complete, which is extremely fast,” said Luke. “The contractor, Landscapes Unlimited from the US, assembled a team of first class sub-contractors to build the course so quickly. The course will still need to mature throughout 2019, but so far the project has truly exceeded everyone’s expectations.”

John Deere Key At Dumbarnie Links

Luke Beardmore feels that John Deere has been at the forefront of the project’s success so far, adding: “Our initial success has largely been based on our strong working relationship with John Deere, and specifically the dealer Double A. The ability for Dumbarnie to work with the dealership team allowed us to keep the preliminary costs down while still focusing on the highest quality standards every day. This partnership has truly been a win-win for everyone.”

Sandy Armit of Double A added: “This is a very exciting project and we are very pleased to have been chosen to be involved with the initial loan and supply of John Deere equipment, including hire tractors and a ProGator utility vehicle with mounted sprayer and spreader. We look forward to phasing in a full fleet of course maintenance equipment through the grow-in period this year, in preparation for the course’s official opening in 2020.”

For more information, visit: www.JohnDeere.co.uk

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EcoBunker Starts Work On Dumbarnie Links

EcoBunker Starts Work On Dumbarnie Links: The new Dumbarnie Links course at Lower Largo on the south coast of Fife in Scotland – just a little more than ten miles from St Andrews – is now under construction, and EcoBunkerʼs project team has moved onto site to begin the installation of its synthetic edging product in all of the courseʼs formal bunkers.

The course has been designed by Clive Clark, formerly a Walker and Ryder Cup player, and a long-time BBC Television golf commentator, but now an established golf course architect based in the United States. The golf course is being built by American contractor Landscapes Unlimited.

EcoBunker Starts Work On Dumbarnie Links

Fife Council granted planning consent for the project in April 2018, and the construction team moved onto the site in May. Shaping of the golf holes and bunkers is already underway, and the EcoBunker team is gearing-up to finish constructing the bunkers.

Where bunkers are hard against greens, or surrounded by short grass, they will be fully revetted using EcoBunkerʼs synthetic solution. However, where bunkers are positioned to be a transition between maintained grass and native rough, they will be constructed in a hybrid fashion, with elements of chunked, rough edge and also of revetment. Some of these natural bunkers will be quite large and are sure to be a dominant feature of this very special golf course.

EcoBunker global installation specialist Llewelyn Matthews – like architect Clark a former Walker Cup player – will lead a five-strong construction crew to build the bunkers. Matthews will be on site full time during construction, which is scheduled to last sixteen weeks and come to a conclusion in September. Project manager Paul Kimber and the team from Landscapes Unlimited will work closely with the team on the very important bunker construction.

Richard Allen, EcoBunker inventor and CEO, said: “New links courses are extremely rare, and we are very proud and happy to be playing a major role in the construction of Dumbarnie, which promises to be an outstanding golf course that will attract play from all over the world. This is one of our largest ever projects, and we are very pleased to be working so closely with Paul Kimber and the Landscapes Unlimited team to make Dumbarnie a true destination links.”

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Wiedenmann For Machrie Links

Wiedenmann For Machrie Links: Islay’s Machrie Links, one of the UK’s most westerly and spectacular golfing venues boasts outstanding coastline vistas in a natural setting.

A change of ownership in 2011 and significant investment has hastened a remarkable transition.  European Ryder Cup Vice Captain, D J Russell was commissioned to modernise major areas while not detracting from the original 1891 design by Willie Campbell.

Wiedenmann For Machrie Links

Course Manager, Dean Muir, joined from Muirfield three years ago and he and his team of seven are seamlessly blending the old with the new. A six hole par three course has been added, along with a 300 m driving range and 4 500 m² practice putting surface. The Championship course re-opened in summer 2017 and in a few months’ time a new 50 bedroom hotel and club facilities complete on this Hebridean island.

As the project evolves three separate Wiedenmann UK purchases have contributed to re-establishment works across the course. First to arrive was a Super 600 to launch their rough management programme.

“I’d had one at Muirfield so it was my first purchase. For purpose, nothing comes close to it.  Reconstruction meant we were going into huge areas of fearsome rough never previously renovated, only by sheep and cattle. In 2016 we started to cut and collect those roughs and they grew rapidly again. Rain held us back at the end of last year but we will be principally flail mowing and collecting. In time we will scarify it but for now the priority is to keep cutting it down to a manageable height.

With its 4500 litre tank the Super 600 collects and packs arisings tightly, increasing productivity,  the high dump facility able to tip into tall sided trailers.

“Our dunes and situation make it a bit of an issue getting from A to B. There aren’t that many travel routes round the course so its capacity really helps.”

Next on Dean’s list was a new Wiedenmann Terra Spike GXi8 HD arriving in October 2016.

The GXi8 runs through all fairways annually once during the winter months. Greens are spiked every other year as being built essentially on sand dunes gives rise to few compaction issues. With its low centre of gravity and close coupling to the tractor, the aerator is fully equipped for the challenge. The Advance Tine Control feature makes sure the tines’ incision into the ground is always precise leaving a neat finish. Dean’s team takes advantage of the best weather windows.

“Our undulations look spectacular but are straightforward for the GXi8. We don’t do anything special just follow the contours.  The shape of the undulations help … they are formed in big long rolls so we just follow the line.

“We do vary depth.  In 2016 we went for 250 mm, this season we’ve opted for 200 mm running 15° of heave.  The course is relatively new in parts and because of some changes there are more stones about.  Heave helps us glance stones rather than hitting them full on.

“For me the biggest benefit of the Wiedenmann is its smoothness.  Just no vibration.  With other machines sitting in the cab up to eight hours in the day, you’d really know about it. But the Wiedenmann is smooth. It’s got several absorption systems that dampen any vibration. You get no shock transfer to the driver or the tractor.”

Finally Machrie Links purchased a 1.7m Terra Rake in October to work in tandem with the Super 600 and other kit for the course.

“We’ve yet to get the full benefit of the Terra Rake, the wet summer held us back.  It will work hard in the season ahead especially as we work to get areas of rough to manageable height and more golfer friendly.  The 1.7m width is the right size to deal with our dunes and undulations.  The Super 600 will cut the rough down gradually with the Terra Rake going through it. Down the line we’ll use it to scarify.”

Wiedenmann UK’s Scottish dealer, Fairways GM have supplied Machrie Links with their Wiedenmann equipment.

For more information, visit: www.wiedenmann.co.uk

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