When the golf courses at the Northern Netherlands Golf & Country Club (NNG&CC) were extended in 1986, a gravel layer was laid at a depth of 25 to 30 centimeters. Combined with heather compost, this created a very moist soil. For several years, a different soil treatment has been chosen, using the TopChanger.
Scottish-born Allan Salmond has been Head of Greenkeeping at the NNG&CC in Glimmen, Groningen, for 17 years. He talks passionately about the maintenance of ‘his’ golf courses, and the clearly visible improvements in recent years.
Soil improvement is a challenge
“From a government perspective, the use of chemicals for soil maintenance is being increasingly reduced,” says Allan. “For golf courses, where the grass is cut unnaturally short, combined with the sandy soil here, soil improvement is a solid challenge.” The aim of Allan and his colleagues is to provide the best possible greens for members throughout the year.
Drier greens and deeper roots
That’s why the NNG&CC has been using the TopChanger for three years now. An obvious choice for Allan. “I have known VGR Verschoor for many years. In the past, we have used their smaller machines. With the TopChanger, everything seems to be falling into place.” The result: drier strips and deeper-rooted grass plants. Allan: “Because the moisture sinks deeper into the soil, the roots have to reach deeper, which makes for firmer soil!”
Maximum playable courts
And that with minimal loss of playing time. “After using the TopChanger, the courts are playable the same afternoon. That's a big difference from other methods.” Allan and his team spend minimal time getting the greens ready to play again. “The VGR Verschoor employee spends three days working with the TopChanger. Six courses are treated per day. The other courses are just open at that time.”
Allan: “Because of the gravel under the top layer, the courts dry up quickly after heavy rainfall. In all other situations, the court remained far too wet after rainfall. Now that the TopChanger injects a significant amount of sand twice a year, this has improved. In October, it will be done for the sixth time and since spring 2022, we have seen clear changes in the top layer. Even after last winter! There was more grass on the greens, due to the drier topsoil. This year, players are very satisfied with our dry greens, with lots of grass. And the quality of the greens continues to improve visibly!”
Ruud de Deugd of VGR Verschoor is present on the first day of a session. He assists in setting up the TopChanger and arranges peripheral matters. “A few weeks later, Ruud comes again, and we evaluate,” says Allan. “In my opinion, that is one of the strengths of VGR Verschoor. They are keen to know what we see as areas for improvement! So far, in our opinion, the cooperation is going fine: in response to our experiences, adjustments have only been made at the detail level.” The TopChanger is already VGR Verschoor’s fourth generation of machines used by the NNG&CC. Allan: “VGR Verschoor keeps developing continuously, for us that is ideal.”
The good results and the substantive and pleasant cooperation are reason for Allan to look beyond the agreed five-year period. “After five treatments in recent years, the results are demonstrably positive. We inject large quantities of sand into the soil, and this causes only minor game disruption.” Allan, concluding, “In addition, Arwin Verschoor is very enthusiastic and has a clear vision. A partner with a lot of experience is important for us. It is good to exchange thoughts about soil maintenance! We are absolutely satisfied!”