Q&A with Dale Housden

Alistair
By Alistair September 22, 2020 07:05 Updated

You’ve been head greenkeeper at Drayton Park for 18 months now, what challenges were you faced with on arrival, which direction are you taking the course in, what have you already implemented and improved and what is it that you enjoy most about your job?

The course had gone through many changes over the recent years with a good turnover of staff and directorship with different ideas on which direction the course should go in. The course needed continuity and consistency. I instantly wanted to return the course to a classic James Braid parkland set up and return the surfaces to its former glory.

Generally and throughout most areas, the course had struggled to retain coverage thus membership numbers began to dwindle as the condition deteriorated. I dont recall any ‘honeymoon’ period as the both internally and externally we had a clean slate given to us with no time to waste. I had full support from the board and membership whom trusted me to deliver. Many standard processes were implemented and the greenkeeping staff instantly understood the levels of expectation that we need to achieve on a daily basis. The membership have noticed improved playing surfaces throughout with a keen eye for detail. The drive and passion that I ask from every member of the team is there, which reflects hugely in their performance. I most enjoy seeing the course improve week on week and month to month.

We have made huge strides in 2019 /2020 yet we have only just begun.

You’ve recently purchased a new Tru Turf greens roller to work across the course. What were the particular features that appealed to you about this model when comparing it to the previous model you used?

This model exceeds the previous model by far. Before this model came out and when we were due to replace, I did consider other brands yet this R50 model was head and shoulders above the others. The quality of performance, the simplicity and how user friendly it was is the most eye catching attributes when choosing a machine. A turf iron is such a basic machine yet from experience it is surprising how many try to complicate it. It is easy to attach the iron to a UTV with the quick link and the upgrade to the Sarell roll spikes from the slit spikes beneath allows me to perform two actions at the same time. I favour the Sarell roll process over the slit tine so I personally was pleased to add this machine to our fleet.

What do the team members think of and like about the new Tru Turf greens roller and how quickly did they become acquainted with the features and operating of the machine?

The lads love using this machine as it is such a nice ride plus is easy to maintain as the seat lifts freely with spacious access to the engine. I have even managed to convert a few team members who have not been keen on sitting on turf irons in previous years.

What are the ways in which you choose to use the Tru Turf roller and how do you integrate it into a course maintenance programme?

For us, the turf iron allows us to keep the greens of good pace and skip mow when we require. The Sarell roller underneath allows us to spike and iron in one movement with minimal disruption to play. Like most good things – you can get too much of it so we cannot overuse the iron due to the obvious compaction issues, which we then alleviate with aeration soon after prolonged periods of stress. On average we would iron the greens once maybe twice twice a week yet can be up to three / max four times a week during the major season.

Have the members noticed the improved speed of the playing surfaces and are they happy with the quality you and the team are delivering?

Absolutely. The turf iron has played a huge part in the golfers’ satisfaction when playing our course. We manage a members-only group which is there for daily updates and course information and when the iron is photographed on the course early morning, you can nearly hear the members’ excitement as they prepare to visit the course. We have USGA greens here at Drayton Park and an iron really transforms the pace of the green. It is great that with this model in particular, we can iron all of our greens in two and a half hours. A piece of equipment that I simply would not be without.

 

Alistair
By Alistair September 22, 2020 07:05 Updated

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