This winter we have been working on an improvement project for the right side of 1 green and 2 tee complex. Historically this is an area of the property that often struggles due to poor drainage, lack of sunlight, and poor airflow. This is one of the most difficult micro-climates at Kinloch to maintain healthy turf throughout the season.
Our approach to tree management at Kinloch is very unique. We must consider the functionality of every tree i.e. is it a hazard, does it frame the hole, or is it a reference point for the golfer. Our process for removing trees starts with identifying the specimens that we must keep. Then we do a walk through with the golf course architect and select the trees that can be removed. This is a very selective process and every tree is scrutinized to ensure that we don’t change the character of the hole, but also put ourselves in the best position for agronomic success.
We recently applied this strategy to the right of 1 green and 2 tees. This area experienced a lack of morning sunlight and poor airflow that often resulted in turf decline. Much of the underbrush was thinned out during the project but we left the focal specimen trees that frame the area. This also opened up vistas that allow you to better view this portion of the property.
The subsurface of 2 tees and the surrounding rough were also in need of attention. During construction a silica based sand was used to cap the tees. Silica sands hold more moisture than river or rock based sands. While this method has worked great for most of the tees at Kinloch, it holds too much water on 2 due to the aforementioned microclimate. This coupled with there being no internal drainage in these tees meant our team had to take necessary steps to remedy the problem.
We installed a herringbone drainage pattern in these tees. This is very similar to the drainage design of a USGA green and is the most efficient way to catch water and move it off a site.
The process begins by stripping the sod in the pattern that we want to place the drain tile. These trenches are excavated to a depth of 16 inches to provide ample space for the necessary gravel, pipe, and sand. While the trenches are being excavated we are continually checking the slope of the trench floor to ensure we have a minimum of 2 percent fall throughout the drainage network using a surveying tool known as a transit. Once we have sufficient slope to move water we cover the trench floor with 2 inches of pea gravel. Corrugated drain tile is then placed on top of the gravel and covered up with 4 more inches of gravel. Six inches of sand similar to the silica sand found in the tees is used to cap the project and is heavily compacted to ensure that we do not have any future settling. Sod is then put back and rolled for a smooth finish.
Moisture management often extends beyond our irrigation system and how much water we apply. Thought must be given to the ability to move excess moisture from playing surfaces along with the sunlight and airflow needs of the turf. These projects will help us better manage moisture and provide the world class conditioning Kinloch is known for.