In November we will celebrate our 20th anniversary. That is why we will be highlighting various parts of the green business in the near future. This time, VGR's most famous machine takes center stage: the TopChanger.
Author: Nino Stuivenberg (NWST)
The TopChanger is the showpiece of VGR Equipment, the department within VGR Groep where new machines are developed. The TopChanger injects water into the soil under high pressure, creating holes for inserting sand or soil-improving products. The machine does this in one pass. While driving, the container is continuously replenished via a conveyor belt, so that you do not have to stop to refill.
Water permeability and structure
In 2016, Golf Course Wouwse Plantage was the first in the Netherlands to purchase the TopChanger. Head greenkeeper René Deelen: 'At the time, the board came up with the proposal to renew the greens. Actually, the quality was good, but the water permeability and structure could be better. After contact with Arwin Verschoor, we tested the TopChanger and decided to purchase the machine.' There was also a new tractor, because the TopChanger requires 50HP on the PTO/PTO shaft.
Deelen has now been running the machine for about five years and can assess it like no other. According to the head greenkeeper, a major advantage is that the machine can use not only dry sand, but also wet sand. 'This allows us to use our normal dress sand. In the beginning we used the machine in both spring and autumn. We then introduce about 60 cubic meters of sand onto 20 greens. That sand is then really in the ground, otherwise you would never get that in. Our greens are now significantly better.' Deelen now chooses to aerate with hollow pins in the spring and uses the TopChanger in the autumn, so that the greens do not become too lean.
Deelen thinks that the TopChanger can certainly be an added value for an 18-hole golf course. 'Of course there is a price tag. But if you have to build new greens for higher quality, you also lose a lot of money. We can no longer do without the TopChanger.' Deelen, himself a real machine operator, does recommend putting a driver on the tractor with a feel for the machine. 'Because, for example, one green is a bit wetter than the other, you have to have a feel for that. You do have to spend time on that, especially in the beginning.' Practice makes perfect, so!