Chipping green

The chipping green at Ponteland is a fantastic facility and is an area of the course that the green keepers are very proud of. It was built using left over soil/top dressing with no drainage installed and was turfed with the same turf used on tee boxes. In 2011 it was cut no more than 3 times a week with a height of cut (HOC) of 12mm.

We realised that this wasn’t good enough to replicate chipping onto a main green out on the course, so we set about creating a maintenance regime to bring the chipping green to the same standard as the main greens. In the winter of 2012 Craig the deputy course manager realised that we now had the perfect place to try out different methods that were yet to be widely practiced and proven.

During the winter of 2012 we hit the books! Using the internet and many forms of social networking we began bringing together new ideas or slightly modified existing practices to the table. We discovered that a lot of other green keepers from all over the world were doing the same and with their help we have created a maintenance plan at the cutting edge of our industry.

ITS NOT WHAT YOU KNOW, ITS WHAT YOU DO WITH IT!!!!!!!

This is where our club comes into it’s own. It’s all very well and good having this information but having the finance and more importantly the support from the committee to carry out this intensive work is where I personally feel we as a club are in quite a rare position. The final ingredient to this years success has been the weather it has simply been outstanding!

Below is a link to a video showcasing some of the methods used this year in maintaining the chipping green.

http://youtu.be/Lh_EY5DDaw0

Cutting: this year we have maintained a cutting height of 2mm throughout the summer rising to 3mm in the winter.

Tractor mounted sprayer: this is used to apply a number of different treatments to the turf. It’s a subject that could be talked about all day so I will keep it simple and say that in the video Paddy is applying potassium nitrate, trinexapac-ethyl and ferrous sulphate. This is a trial to see if we can maintain a better quality of turf throughout the winter and also to help the grass utilise it’s stored energy better come spring.

Top dressing: we apply weekly applications of straight sand at a rate of 5tonnes per hectare in the summer. We change to monthly apps during the winter or change the amount of sand to match predicted growth potential of the grass.

Aeration: since this a trial area of the course aeration has been kept to a minimum to gauge the negative side affects. We all know members hate aeration.

Rolling: with a tighter HOC than the main greens and a reduction in aeration we also reduced rolling. This is to help maintain a balance with compaction and also to see if the speed of the main greens can be matched.

It sounds great in theory but not only have we gone from maintaining 19 greens to 20 but this new regime has been very labour intensive and with no irrigation to the chipping green simply keeping it alive this summer has been a challenge especially over the weekends. I think the results speak for themselves and I would consider the chipping green one of, if not the best on the course.

Jack Hetherington

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