Greens drainage

You may notice over the next week or so a few drainage channels on a few greens. This is vital work that will ensure the survival of the turf with all the wet weather we have been having.
Early summer was wet with August our best month and a total contrast to the dry 2018 we had, the middle of September onwards has been a constant barrage of Atlantic low pressure systems dumping way too much rain and well above average (see graph). We actually over took our yearly total average in the second week of October and we haven’t hit winter yet, great!.
All this rain means one thing for turf, lack of oxygen. Most people think that turf grows in soil, and while that’s correct in one way it’s actually wrong. The soil is literally an anchor for roots and supply’s vital nutrients, but the roots of the grass plant actually grows in the gaps in the soil and there for grows in an oxygen rich environment. When we have excessive rain this forces the oxygen out of the soil, the roots begin to retreat toward the plant and if this environment doesn’t improve the plant will die. Any compaction from the golfer and our machinery makes this matter worse forcing more oxygen out and deconstructing the soil pushing the fine particles of clay upward where we have spent money and time topdressing with sand to aid drainage.

That’s the basic soil science out of the way now onto the projects. We have several areas of turf that are anaerobic from all the rain and are weeks away from death and a loss of turf. Two of these areas are rear of the 6th green and rear of the 13th green our plan is to hand dig trenches to these areas, place a pipe and hole cup with an AstroTurf top. This method is literally like a plug hole, carrying the water away from the big bath that forms.

The most important area that will receive drainage is the rear of the 5th green. This green was never done right to begin with, less said about that the better!, Basically all that was built last year was a big pond. The clay hole was dug out and filled with sand, this sand hole was always going to fill with water once it’s own mini water table reached saturation. We basically made a mini artisan well. Now it is time to lay drainage there to open up that well and drain the pond.

Firstly we will lay about 100m worth of drainage, 5 trenches in all. The first trench is a main and will carry the water away, plus catch water to the rear running off the bank, we think this is a broken clay pipe leaking under the soil. The other 4 are laterals and are physically emptying the pond and any excess water that falls from the sky afterwards. We drain this into the bunker drain, because we know this runs perfect and copes with a lot of water, so should be no problem for this. As part of the project a raised area in front of the bunker is going to be added to stop water running off the green and in to the bunker washing all the sand down. All turf will be stripped the dead turf to the rear replaced with new turf and the drainage lines will have the existing turf rolled up and then replaced.

We can’t stand looking at these problem areas and when you see us digging you may think, god what  are they doing to our greens. But I promise you this is for improvement purposes and you can’t make a tasty omelette with out cracking a few eggs.

I’m hoping that as part of our next 3 years winter projects, we can drain fully a green every year. The main ones being 5, 7, 10 and 17. Look forward to finishing the project and seeing these green improve over time. The sandcat work we had done will work perfect with this drainage as they will link up to the lateral drains feeding all the water into them.


  1. Thanks mark for the update. Great to have your insight on some.of our more problematic greens๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘⛳⛳

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