England’s finest links, Royal Cinque Ports, has found the final piece of their aeration puzzle by using the Air2G2 336 on their greens and fairways.
Course Manager, James Bledge, has been in charge of the Kent based links for nine years, and for a majority of that time, has hired an Air2G2 for use on the club’s large greens. Brilliant results over that time and a desire to work freely between tournaments and trial ideas led the club to purchase their own machine in August 2021, from Campey Turf Care Systems and put it straight to work to do what it does best.
James explains: “It’s one of these machines that’s hard to quantify because you don’t see instant results, but it’s part of the jigsaw puzzle that comes together with everything else. We maintain really nice surfaces here, and I believe that to be part of it – we’ve had far less disease than we’ve ever had, and our greens have been firmer than ever.
“We had four big back to back competitions in this last month. First, we’ve had the Boys Amateur Championship, which is one of the biggest R&A events, then we had a week off before Deal Week, the South East Links Championship and the Halford Hewitt, which is the world’s largest amateur golf competition at the end of that with 640 competitors. So this week, we managed to get out and aerate everything, and it’s been well-timed because we got heavy rain at the end of that week, which could have seen the greens puddle up, but instead, they were fine.
“Not one single person could tell we’d been out with the Air2G2 the Monday following the Boys Amateur, and that’s a seven-day competition with all your practice days and qualifying. These greens were cut and rolled every single day, which could potentially bake them or form a hardpan near the top because it’s such intensive work, but the Air2G2 after that was the ideal thing to do, and they haven’t seemed stressed out since.”
With their own Air2G2, James can now deploy it as and when needed, which includes working on fairways. In the past, the club hired the smaller model, but with the 336, they are able to cover all of their greens in less than three days and build in time to aerate the new 0.8 hectares of fairway extensions.
“We’ve got it back out this morning on fairways which is probably a first, and I don’t think many people would do that, but with the crane fly and leather jacket activity high just now, and it probably will be for the rest of the year, I’m intent I want to watch when putting holes in the ground. The Air2G2 is a fantastic tool for that if you can explain to your team when they’re being sent out to do bits of fairways here and there.
“Our two new fairways are a lot firmer than the rest so you really need to get that into it to break up the soil, create some air and pore space and get the roots and moisture going through it. You can see there are some places where it’s pulling up a little bit, but I’m trying to explain to the staff that this will only be for a certain amount of time. The more we can get the Air2G2 into it, the more space there will be for the roots to dive down, and the fairway will get better.”