VGR TopChanger bij Royal Troon

TopChanger plays its part in preparations for The Open

27 June 2024

Author: Louise Challiss

Preparations are well underway for the 152nd Open, taking place at Royal Troon this July. The Old Course has undergone some alterations since it last hosted the prestigious event back in 2016 including eight new tees and an overall lengthening of the course to just under 7400 yards.

Another new addition is a VGR TopChanger to the machinery shed of Course Manager Billy McLachlan and his team. He explains how the purchase of the TopChanger has significantly enhanced drainage and firmed up the playing surfaces since its delivery in September 2022.

Royal Troon
Widely recognized as of the greatest links courses, Royal Troon are hosting the Open Championship for the 10th time in 2024 – the preparations for which are on track and in safe hands under Billy’s stewardship, who has been at the venue for over forty years. In that time, he’s witnessed much in the way of technological development when it comes to maintenance equipment.

Sand injection
“Sand injection is something that I looked at probably twelve to fifteen years ago but, at the time, the machinery just didn’t deliver”, Billy says. “More recently, effective solutions have become available, bringing multiple benefits to plant health and the profile more generally. We’d been utilizing the services of a contractor to conduct the operation for us, who did a good job but in wanting to increase the frequency in line with R&A recommendations, it became more economical to explore purchasing a machine of our own.”

High-pressure water power
Following an impressive demonstration, the club opted to purchase a TopChanger from VGR Equipment. The TopChanger uses high-pressure water power to aerate the soil, with the option to simultaneously fill the channels with wet or dry sand – preventing anaerobic conditions, improving drainage and diluting organic matter throughout the profile.

Billy: “Tom Peter from VGR brought the TopChanger in, and we immediately thought it was brilliant. The flexibility of having our own machine, meaning we could conduct passes more frequently and, importantly, when the weather conditions were right, made both financial and agronomic sense.”

Minimal surface disruption
“We were out in the Autumn of 2022, conducting one pass at a depth of ten inch and a secondary pass at a shallower three inch, before the weather turned”, Billy explains. “Autumn 2023 saw us completing a further four passes on all eighteen greens. Compared to other methods of aeration, the surface disruption is minimal and it’s a 1.5-person job so isn’t too much of a drain on our available resources. The results are speaking for themselves, emerging from a very wet winter with the greens performing exactly as we need them to.”

Brilliant investment
He concludes, “It’s already proven to be a brilliant investment, which will also be put to good use on the Portland Course as well as the Old Course again later this year. The support from VGR throughout has also been first-class.”


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