First tee and putting green revamp for the Castle

Practice facilities are an important part of any golf complex and over the years the putting green adjacent to the first tee has only been suitable for around half a dozen golfers to practice on at a time. This was highlighted during the Women’s Open Qualifier in 2017 when 25 players were all practicing before the evening shoot out for the final few places. As part of the plans to improve this, we thought it was a good opportunity to enlarge and level the 1st tee also.

Putting green and 1st tee prior to reconstruction

The first task involved stripping all the turf from the site.

Turf being removed

The Castle is built on farmland; the soil is quite heavy clay compared to links ground. Whenever a new tee or green at the Castle is built, we need to remove the rootzone material (sand and soil mixture that grass grows in) to reach the heavy clay. This is then shaped to the final contours of the finished green/tee and we build back up in layers.

Scraping the rootzone

Shaping the clay layer

Once the sub base is shaped to the correct levels, drainage is dug into this layer to help remove excess moisture. Any irrigation requirements are also installed.

Drainage being installed into the shaped base layer

Once drainage is installed we need to start building up. To improve drainage and percolation rates, a gravel carpet is put in over the base layer to a depth of 100mm following the contours. The gravel is tested against the rootzone material to see if it’s compatible to prevent the greens from holding too much moisture. It’s important to make sure this depth is consistent across the whole area.

Gravel carpet with first loads of new rootzone going over the top

Next is the rootzone layer, and like the gravel, must be laid to a consistent depth this time 300mm. This needs to be firmed up using water and machines to roll the surface. Adding water also allows us to confirm the drainage is working correctly.

Rootzone being added

Constant watering to firm up the surface

When we are happy it’s roughly at 300mm, we will start to dip the green. This involves pushing a metal bar with tape at the required length on it into the ground listening for the crunch of gravel. We then add or remove material to achieve the correct height. This is the most important part of the whole job. Consistency is important for the rootzone and gravel carpet to work correctly. You need strong arms to do this all day!

Dipping and raking the final level

Once everyone is happy with the depth and it’s checked and re-checked, turf can finally be re-laid.

Turf laying… a big operation

Now finished, the putting green should be able to have nine hole locations which is a massive improvement on the original four. The green still has one big slope which will allow you to practice some of the putts you may face on the golf course.

Words by Jon Wood, Course Manager – The Castle Course

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