Thursday, 1 December 2016

Leaf Clearance

During the main leafing period, the process of keeping the main playing areas clear takes priority over any other tasks. The leafing policy follows a set procedure. The first part of the policy is to identify the main playing surfaces and list them in priority order.

1.       Greens
2.       Aprons
3.       Around Greens
4.       Tees
5.       Fairways
6.       Rough

Leaves are either blown straight into woodland areas, or blown into areas of rough and piled for collection. The leaves are collected in two ways. One is a machine with a giant hose for collecting static piles, and the other is a sweeper machine used more on fairway edges/rough. The direction and place the leaves are blown to for collection is dependent on many factors such as ground conditions, wind direction, machinery used and machinery access, etc. This may involve blowing leaves across a whole fairway, green, tee, or through a bunker. The leaves become more difficult to move when wet and even more so when they build up in quantity. Heavy rainfall, wet and soft ground conditions restrict what machinery can be taken onto the course. Frozen conditions also restrict efficiency with potential damage to the grass plant from machinery and leaves being frozen to the surface. The nature of each specific task on each hole when leafing, and the time taken means that the piles of leaves are not collected as quickly as they are created. A large area like a fairway can sometimes take several hours to blow, so it is therefore impossible to clear all fairways on a daily basis. Clearing all fairways can take several days and can appear untouched within hours of completion.  During periods of high leaf fall the Greenstaff will spend eight hours a day trying to deal with the leaves, on windy days this process can be immensely challenging.  

Due to Vibration white finger (VWF), also known as hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), the exposure to using hand blowers also needs to be limited to prevent HAV occurring. This comes under The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005, created under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

At weekends we are not permitted to use machinery until after 7am, due to noise issues with neighbouring houses, leaving us only a very small window to clear leaves using leaf blowers. This unfortunately means that only greens and aprons can be cleared before play begins.

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