In today’s golfing climate, golf club members and visitors want to be able to play as much in winter as they do in summer. This has brought a new dynamic across the industry, from machinery and equipment suppliers, down to the golf course manager and the greens staff. It also has a huge impact on a golf club’s finances and course budgets. More and more of the work within the season is now to prepare the golf course for winter. Some clubs across the UK are now putting the majority of the resources they have into making sure they remain open in the winter (as much as possible), often meaning they are sacrificing the quality and basic requirements of the golfing season.
So, with that in mind, we asked our very own course manager, Adam Matthews about the work he and his team have carried out this winter, to deliver a much more playable golf course.
Over the last 12 months I have been working closely with the board and golf course architect Jonathan Gaunt. We have carried out a detailed golf course audit, and from that produced a ‘masterplan.’ This course development document gives a detailed hole by hole plan of what we believe will be required over the next 10 years to take MAGC forward. Once finalised this year, I will hopefully present this to the members.
Since taking over at Moor Allerton two and half years ago, we have made a lot of well documented changes. Not only have some of these been visual ones out on the course but many have been operational ones from within the maintenance department. One of our main focuses has been the training and education of our staff members and investment in new equipment. These now allow us to carry out the majority of larger tasks in house, that were once contracted out. This is huge advantage as we are now in a position where we can plan and produce major construction and development work.
One of the main areas that we have studied during the audit is the drainage and water management requirements here at the golf club. The programme of works that we have implemented on our greens over the last two years has been successful and many members have commented just how good our greens are now, in the winter months. The same programme will now be rolled out onto the approaches and the tees, and become a regular part of our maintenance regime, which will help these surfaces cope with the winter conditions as well as the greens now do. Our aeration programme has been stepped up and we now use a number of pieces of machinery to verti drain and shockwave most in play areas on the golf course.
The moving of the Europro Tour to July this year will allow the team more time during a better weather window to make sure these processes are carried out to full affect.
Moor Allerton has 2 large water courses that carry water through the site. We have upgraded a large part of these courses with the construction of a lake in front of the 27th green, remodelling of the ditches in front of the 1st and 10th greens and the clearing and opening of areas on the 5th, 12th, 17th and 13th. We built a stream during the 17th hole upgrade that will act as a carrier of water from the top 9 once the next phase of drainage work is done. Making sure these areas flow freely and quickly is the first part of a major plan, and it gives us a natural outlet to be able to plumb drainage works into. We have also uncovered a lot of old land drain pipes that had been sealed over with silt and muck.
We have installed new drainage systems into the 2nd and 9th Tee’s, and they are working very well. This will be replicated on the 6th, and 15th hopefully at the end of this year.
In September the team installed secondary drainage channels to many our wettest areas and fairways. This has been a huge success, and the 14th and 16th fairways have this winter been transformed from our wettest to our driest. The installations on 2, 3, 8 and 27 have also been successful, and will be extended this year. I have budgeted to increase heavily the secondary drainage installation work this year and we will roll this out early September across the course.
The club have also purchased our own mole plough, and this will allow us to link a lot of the already installed drainage together and increase water movement into the right areas. It will also allow us to penetrate the clay layer in other areas of the course, leaving behind open underground tunnels that will act as drainage runs.
The top 9 is a little more complex and as it is a lot flatter than the 1st 18, using land fall to plan drainage is difficult. This will require a number of main land drains to be installed, and also the planning of some out of play open ditches. Once this is done we will have a source to be able to run secondary drainage channels into.
There seems to be a reputation surrounding Moor Allerton and its conditioning during the winter months. Statistically we have had 3 very harsh winters in terms of rainfall since I have been here, yet members are telling me that its never been so good. This tells me we’re on the right path, and that as the work continues and the drainage work is increased, winters will become a lot more manageable. Yes, we are mainly a clay soil site, and yes this does have its disadvantages. But, it also has huge positives and it helps us do what we do best during the season and that is providing the types of surfaces that our members and visitors rave about. Were no wetter than many of our neighbouring courses, and I’m very confident that the plan of works we now have, and the commitment from the club and our staff to improve the drainage will hold us in very good stead for years to come.