Toronto Golf Club Greens Drainage Interview
I had the chance to stop by the Toronto Golf Club recently to observe how the finished product looks from the Colt restoration completed in December 2009 by TDIGolf http://www.tdigolf.com/ , along with Martin Hawtree Golf Design http://www.hawtree.co.uk/ from the UK, whose grandfather worked with original TGC architect Harry Shapland Colt. Along with taking a few pictures to show you, I will also share a few tidbits of my discussion with Toronto Golf Club Greens Manager, Al Schwemler later here. The pictures above are hole # 16, a 492 yard par 5 to a mighty undulating greens surface with numerous bentgrass runouts. As you can tell the second shot is truly menacing from atop the ravine. Also, in the pic with Al the discerning eye may pick up on some slightly noticeable XGD subsurface drainage laterals.
ML: In your own words please describe any measurable difference in your greens since XGD has been installed on them?
Al: Well, in a nutshell, I would say that general turf vigor has been significantly increased. After heavy precipitation events the greens certainly dry out and recover much quicker than before as they stayed slightly wetter for longer without the greens drainage.
ML: What about the visibility of the XGD greens drainage laterals? I see they can be spotted easily today.
Al: Sure they are at times slightly visible to our staff, but not to the members. This will get better shortly with a little time, but they certainly haven’t dried out or gotten crispy on us. In that sense they have been easy to manage. I believe that is absolutely due to my stance on native greens dirt backfill on the XGD laterals and not your usual heavy greens mix that you used on of your first installs for me when I was at York Downs G&CC.
ML: What kind of cultural practices are you employing on your greens that may have helped with the healing time after the XGD installation?
Al: I wouldn’t say anything out of the ordinary. Our soil compaction tests revealed that your crew’s compaction efforts achieved the same proctor density as our existing greens soil profile which is a really good thing, however, some minor settling has occurred as you said it might because of the softness of the native backfill material vs. your usual greensmix backfill. So we did perform a lot of topdressing efforts over the XGD laterals, as well as our regularly scheduled greens topdressings. In this way, this kept up with any settling issues, but we will be quite vigilant on the topdressing moving forward until the settling completely ceases.
We have also completed two deep tining operations, one in the fall, and one this spring to a depth of 8-9 inches. we used 5/16″ Verti Drain with no kick. We are going to incorporate this in to our regular greens management program and complete this operation twice yearly moving forward. This gets some air movement down in to the lower soil profile to help XGD aerate the soil more efficiently.
ML: Does XGD help you in any way achieving firm and fast conditions for the membership at http://www.torontogolfclub.com/ ?
Al: Well, we really don’t go after crazy fast green speeds here because these original HS Colt greens have plenty of movement and we have to be careful we don’t get them too fast for daily member play.
ML: The course looks really great, how have the critics comments been?
Al: Everybody is really thrilled despite all the controversy over the restoration from outside the club. To be honest, the club does not all care about outside opinions, and focuses on our member’s opinions only. It was an honour to be a part of this historic club’s restoration, and in the upcoming years grow-in the fescue and the other course accents so we can really show of this golf masterpiece at its finest.
Stay tuned as other discussions will be shared with TGC Greens Manager Al Schwemler.
Bye for now,
Poor Old Dirt & Grass Farmer