Greenkeepers’ Question Time

Golf Equipment

We've assembled an expert panel to face up to your questions

Hand cutting greens – does the use of a hand mower and the time it takes to cut the greens outweigh the use of ride-on mowers and the resulting compaction?

Will, Leeds


Kim: This is a good question that we have looked at in the last four years. At Fulford Heath we have gone back to hand-mowing greens and tees. We purchased four Baroness greens mowers and two trailers and three Baroness Tee mowers. We decided to go back to hand mowing for better appearance and to produce a healthier sward on the greens. Both the greens and tees have improved with hand mowing. The downside that it takes more man hours to do the greens and tees is false; there is not much difference. The extra cost in man hours is off set by the running costs of hand mowers and depreciation of the two systems. We have found that we can produce good greens and tees and have an extra member of staff because of going back to hand mowers.

Why do greenkeepers on classic courses insist on doing rounded corners on tees?
Graeme, St Ives

Bear: To be honest it is all down to personal preference. Both methods look good if done properly. In my opinion golf courses should appear as natural as possible and perfectly square tees certainly do not appear too natural although do indeed give a far crisper, neater look. Some of my tees are squared and some are rounded. Horses for courses.

Why do different courses have varying grades of rough length, how many grades of rough should there be and how wide should these cuts ideally be?

Gordon, Perth

Tina: It varies from course to course, but usually there are three cuts. First cut of semi rough about 10 feet wide cut at one inch, a second cut of varying width at 2.5 inches and then tiger rough/uncut, normally an ecology area left to grow wild. However as we are a short course, and space is limited, we have a first cut and then straight to uncut rough.

When greenkeepers top dress the greens why don’t they also treat the fringes and aprons to stop the bulging and uneven transition from putting surface to fringe?

Vince, Swanage

Tina: It’s solely down to money.
Why do greenkeepers on classic courses insist on doing rounded corners on tees?
Graeme, St Ives

Bear: To be honest it is all down to personal preference. Both methods look good if done properly. In my opinion golf courses should appear as natural as possible and perfectly square tees certainly do not appear too natural although do indeed give a far crisper, neater look. Some of my tees are squared and some are rounded. Horses for courses.

Are there benefits to using a rotary mover over a cylinder mower when cutting fairways? Would using a rotary mower stop the rippling effect often caused by cutting in the same direction year on year?

Geoff, Didsbury

Kim: In my opinion there is only one advantage in using rotary mower on fairways or any other area and that is a rotary mower is cheaper to run and will stand my abuse when using it. To get a good sward on a fairway you need to cut the grass leaf

cleanly which requires a cylinder mower. Cylinder mowers will follow contours better and will cut lower then any rotary mowers that I know that are on the market. The rippling effect can be caused by several things but the way we avoid any of these problems is by mowing the fairways in different directions. We sometimes block cut half and half, strip up and down and cut at left to right, right to left. The way we cut the fairways depends on what competitions we have coming up. Cylinder mowers will do a better job if maintained and used correctly which all depends on conditions of the grass on the day of mowing.

Is it true that gorse releases nutrients into the soil which changes the ph level and results in more difficult growing conditions for heather?

Colin, Cirencester

Rob: Gorse is a legume (a member of the pea family) and so is able to ‘fix’ nitrogen from the air, converting it into nitrates in its

roots. Some of these nitrates may be leached into the soil. Heather belongs to the Ericaceae family, plants that, like gorse, can tolerate acidic, low nutrient soils. Although there is some evidence that certain Ericaceae species may be adversely affected by nitrate levels in the soil, gorse and heather live happily side by side in many areas of the United Kingdom.

About Our Panel
Meet our expert greenkeepers

Rob Davy
Club: Walmersley, Bury, Lancashire
About: Rob has been head greenkeeper at Walmersley for 14 years. He studied at Myerscough College and gained a diploma in turf science and sports ground management. Other courses he has worked at include Formby and The Belfry.

Tina Young
Club: The Palace H&GC, Torquay, Devon
About: Tina has been working at the Palace Hotel for eight years as part of a team of two, responsible for the 9-hole par-3 course along with the 25-acre estate, 1,000 roses and 2,500 bedding plants. She has an Advanced Royal Horticultural Certificate.

 

Richard ‘The Bear’ Garrard
Club: Merlin, Newquay, Cornwall
About: The Bear has been golf course manager at Merlin for over five years. Before that, he worked at The Belfry. His entire working life has been spent in the greenkeeping industry.

 

Kim Blake
Club: Fulford Heath, Birmingham, Worcestershire
About: Kim has been course manager at Fulford Heath for 24 years. He manages all budgets; from salary though to capital. Every decision is based on making long-term improvements to the course to benefit members and guests.

Previous article
Next article
Top