Pilot project offers clubs access to labour and machinery within 20 mile radius

By Alistair July 2, 2018 12:18 Updated

Sports administrators are closely watching a revolutionary greenkeeping project in Yorkshire which, if it takes off, has the potential to be rolled out country wide.

An innovative pilot scheme offering sports clubs access to affordable quality pitch maintenance advice, labour and machinery is up and running in north Yorkshire.

The ‘machinery bank’ with eight pieces of maintenance equipment will potentially assist hundreds of eligible sports clubs in a 20-mile radius of Thirsk. Qualified greens staff will carry out the work at affordable rates.

The joint project between the IOG and Sport England has been co-ordinated by Ian Powell, Grounds and Natural Turf Improvement Plan (GaNTIP) regional pitch advisor for Yorkshire & North East.

“Essentially it’s a mechanism to help least resourced club teams play on a better surface for more of the playing season. But it’s not just for golf; football, rugby and cricket can all get a boost,” confirmed Ian Powell.

“It’s radical because conventional thinking has been turned on its head. It’s not one contractor or a club that’s behind it. Guided by consultants, Sporting Assets, who have considerable expertise in the area of community  sports funding, they advised a company limited by guarantee was set up to run the scheme separately from the golf course. The new company is called Hambleton Sports Improvements after the district where it operates. The solution is a win-win for everyone playing on natural turf locally.”

Purchased equipment concentrates on essential processes which coincide with the tried and tested GaNTIP programme reports.

“Decompaction, over-seeding, spraying, scarification and fertiliser applications are what’s most required to rejuvenate an existing surface,“ continued Ian Powell. “It’s about getting versatile kit, suitable for routine maintenance at different levels of sports clubs which also withstands the rigours of golf course duties.”

“With this in mind the equipment purchased includes a John Deere 4066R, a Charterhouse Verti Quake, a Star Green sprayer from Vale Engineering and from Wiedenmann a GXi8 HD Terra Spike, a 2.1m Terra Rake, a Super 500 towed flail mower / collector, Terra Float over seeder and a double sized Terra Brush with folding wings.

“At the heart of the scheme is the greenkeeping team of Thirsk and Northallerton Golf Club, led by course manager, Roger Mackerell and his deputy, Simon Todd. They are the the project champions if you like. A formal service level agreement is in place which will be reviewed regularly to enable the club to use the equipment on its own course. Initially from October through to March when grass growth slows down, their focus shifts to general maintenance and renovations with an element of down time compared to the hectic golf season. So initially in Autumn the roles and skill set of a small group of their team is being expanded to also work on winter pitches and become the labour force for the machinery bank, with potentially more staff added.”

Machines are stored and maintained at the golf club.

“Not only do they access a wider fleet of machines year round but their turf knowledge and experience will be significantly enhanced. I’m hopeful that as more work is commissioned then we’ll be able to offer additional greenkeeper apprenticeships,” said Roger Mackerell.

“Any interested party just needs to go on to the Hambleton machinery bank website and fill out an enquiry form, send it back and we will do the rest,” said Ian Powell.



By Alistair July 2, 2018 12:18 Updated

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