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About this blog

Jeff blogs while interning with Campey's at various sports turf sites in the UK. Sponsored by The Ohio State University Global Intern Program.

Entries in this blog

 

10 countries and 1000 cups of tea later...

I have finished up my summer in Europe with trips to London and Paris with my family. In total, I traveled to ten different countries and met hundreds of turf professionals along the way. This trip was an incredible experience.   My adventure with Campey Turfcare enabled me to visit some of the world's most famous sporting venues, including Manchester United, Arsenal, Wimbledon, Wembley Stadium, and St. Andrews. On each stop, I got to pick the brain of the groundsman and learn a bit about how they are able to achieve success on each of their outstanding grounds.   With Richard Campey on my first day at work.   We carried out pitch renovations in Finland, Denmark, England, and Hungary and showed hundreds of groundsman our method of maintaining a high quality, safe playing surface.   I became familiar with all of the Campey machinery.   While I learned quite a bit about turf, my education didn't stop there. I can now say that I withstood the heat of a Finnish sauna and the immediate icy cold of the Baltic Sea, drank a pint (or more!) of Guinness in Ireland, and ran with the bulls in Spain. I also drank about a thousand cups of tea and survived driving on the left side of the road, among many other things.   I want to take the time to thank a few people, without whom this experience would not have happened.   First, thank you to Richard Campey for giving me the opportunity to work and learn all summer. Not just learning about turf either! Also thank you to Mike O'Keeffe at Ohio State. Mike put me in touch with Richard and was someone I could rely on throughout the whole process.   I also want to thank Julia Campey, who worked tirelessly to set up my whole trip and was always there to help. Another is Ian Campbell for providing me with a place to stay more than a few times! Thank you also to Brian O'Shaugnessy, Richard Heywood, Lee Morgado, David Stonier, John Campey, and Max Lomas for showing me how things are done at Campeys.   First renovated pitch of the summer - Helsinki, Finland   The last renovated pitch of the summer- Budapest, Hungary   I made memories and connections that will last a lifetime and all of those people above are to thank. It was the best summer of my life and I will never forget it! If you want to keep up with what I am doing, you can follow me on Twitter @jefflenihan. Mostly turf stuff, with some Nebraska football tweets in there as well!   One final thank you to Jon Kiger and Peter McCormick at TurfNet for giving me the opportunity to write this blog all summer. I hope some of you found it enjoyable and learned a few things as I did! Thanks for following along!

Jeff Lenihan

Jeff Lenihan

 

Final presentation, and running with the bulls at Pamplona

My last project this summer with Campeys was completed in Budapest, Hungary. It was very successful, with more than 40 turf professionals coming out to see our pitch renovation. The Hungarian Football Association was there as well.   For the first time in my short career, and hopefully not the last, I gave a presentation to those attending about why you should renovate a pitch (Poa annua, thatch, safety, etc.) and the process we use. It went as well as it could have for my first time speaking about turf.   After Budapest, I traveled alone to Barcelona, Spain, and found a nice place to stay close to Barceloneta beach. On Sunday, I boarded a train up to Pamplona, a town in the northeast of Spain. Every year from July 6-14, Pamplona holds the Running of the Bulls, where participants from all over the world come to be chased down a street by six bulls, every day of that week! One person who was there described it to me as "better than Mardi Gras in New Orleans". It turns the town into one big party for a week straight.   Runners packed in near the starting line.    The whole town shows up to watch.   Most runners end up with minor scrapes and bruises, but the possibility of serious injury and even death is there. Four people had been gored during one of the early runs. The hard part about the run is you have to have stamina, be able to watch the bulls behind you while not tripping over the runners who might fall ahead of you. During my run, I jumped over more than one person on the ground. It is also very physical, as you have to jockey for position with other people.   In the photo, I am wearing the traditional white outfit and red bandana of the runners.   Knowing when to stop running and jump out of the way is another key here. You must also be wary that the bulls don't always run together, therefore, a few might pass you, but watch out because there are more coming behind you. I knew there were six bulls running going into it, so I counted in my head as they went by. I got to a point where I thought I counted that all six flew past me, so I slowed down. It might have been the chaos or just my exhaustion from running, but I miscounted and two bulls were right behind me in an instant. I went into a dead sprint and was able to get to safety off to the side of the course. The closest they ever got to me was probably 3-4 yards, and that was plenty close enough.   Cameras line the course. It is shown live on TV every day throughout Spain.  Everyone gathers after the run to watch the replay.   Right after we finished, ambulance sirens pierced the air as we gathered around the local pub to watch a replay. Two people had been gored during my run. Luckily, paramedics were quickly on the scene, and, from what I have read, thankfully the two people survived.   A well-deserved beer after my run.   In the quickest bull run of the week (2 min. 12 sec), two were gored and many others had bruises, cuts, and headaches. It was a physically demanding run, but an experience I will never forget and hope to do again. Hopefully, next year!

Jeff Lenihan

Jeff Lenihan

 

Hanging out with the Pope...

With my last day at Campeys on June 30, I said my goodbyes and headed off on July 1 for a mini vacation to Rome. I picked a place to stay near The Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica.   When you first see the famous dome and balcony, it is pretty surreal knowing just how much history surrounds you, from Michaelangelo's paintings to the tombs of more than 90 popes, including the tomb of St. Peter, the first pope and a disciple of Jesus.   On Thursday, there was a ceremony at The Vatican and Pope Francis was there! I was able to see him and hear him give a speech. Just don't ask me what he was talking about because it was all in Italian!   My long range attempt at a picture of the Pope. He's the one circled in the middle with the white/gold robe!   One of the best things I did on the trip was taking a tour of the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica. There was a guided tour at the museums and we got to see the Sistine Chapel at the end. Unfortunately, it is a holy place and no pictures were allowed. I would also recommend a trip up to the dome in St. Peter's where you can look out onto the city and there are some spectacular views.     View from the dome   View of the Vatican Gardens, from the dome   Getting up to the top wasn't easy. Yes that is a curved passageway, and this one was spacious compared to the rest!   My journey continued with day trips to the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Roman Forums. They were all incredible and worth the trip. Unfortunately for me, the Trevi Fountain was under renovation, so it wasn't as spectacular as you see in most pictures.   That's me at the Colosseum.   Inside the Colosseum   The Pantheon. Incredible sight outside, incredibly beautiful inside.   Trevi Fountain under renovation.   Possibly the best pizza I have ever had   After four days of fantastic sights, food, and experiences, I was ready to head off to my next adventure. Before I can go on more 'just for fun' trips, there is one more place to go with Campeys...

Jeff Lenihan

Jeff Lenihan

 

Manchester United Training Complex and Old Trafford

The official Manchester United Instagram account sent out a picture a little over a week ago that shocked a good portion of its 4.2 million followers. The picture, as you can see, features barren soil instead of grass in the Theatre of Dreams. The comments on this picture ranged from outrage to confusion, with a lot asking why they stripped the pitch that just won the joint Premier League Pitch of the Year with Arsenal. The answer can be found if we rewind back exactly one year in time.   Last year, and every year for about the past decade, the turf at Old Trafford was stripped off with the Koro Field Top Maker. Eliminated from the pitch was any thatch present, almost all the Poa annua plants and seeds, and any other surface contaminants.   This puts the head groundsman, Tony Sinclair, in almost complete control over his new pitch.  At the time of our visit -- about ten days after seeding -- the pitch was well on its way to recovery, as you can see from the photos below.         The same treatment is done to the pitches at the Aon Training Complex in Carrington as well. Here, head groundsman Joe Pemberton deals with the challenges of maintaining a facility that is used by about a dozen teams (U-11s up to the Senior team). Luckily, Manager Louis van Gaal is very supportive and understanding of the challenges the grounds staff faces and keeps an open dialogue.   Joe Pemberton (middle), head groundsman at Carrington Training Complex   Joe has been with Manchester United since 1985, when the training facility consisted of just two pitches. Instead of the 11 groundsman and two gardeners that are working at today's complex, it was just two groundsman on site. With the club's growth came a new training ground, and many more youth teams.   First team pitches at Carrington being mowed.   With Tony and Joe leading the way for Manchester United's grounds, more industry awards and trophies are sure to be on the way. Let's hope the team brings in some trophies as well!   That's me in the tunnel below the stands, the only entry point onto the pitch at Old Trafford.

Jeff Lenihan

Jeff Lenihan

 

Kilts and Bagpipes: The end of my Scotland trip

My time in Scotland has come to an end. Before I left, I got to see a traditional Scottish pipe band play. The Kilbarchan Pipe Band led a march of local school children up to the school for their end of the year dance.     One of the most supported football clubs in Scotland is the Glasgow Rangers. I got to meet their passionate head groundsman David Roxburgh. Rangers play in Ibrox Stadium which holds the unique and challenging title of the darkest stadium in Europe. It really was incredible feeling the difference in moisture and temperature when walking from a shaded part to a sunny part. Because so little light gets onto the pitch, grow lights are a necessity.   David Roxburgh and me at Ibrox Stadium.   The difference between the pitch in the sun and in shade is drastic.   David also took us around to to show us the rest of the stadium, including the trophy room and locker rooms. Rangers have won a lot of silverware over the years, as you can see from the pictures.       After our visit to Rangers, we visited Hampden, the National Stadium, as they set up for an AC/DC concert. We also got around to a couple of smaller clubs, Partick Thistle and Greenock Morton FC.   Flooring going down for an AC/DC concert at Hampden.   At Greenock Morton, their one and only groundsman, Mark Farrell, showed me some Red Thread that had invaded his pitch (photo below). Luckily, Mark really knows his turf, so dealing with that will be no problem. Mark uses his limited budget in the best ways possible to get the most out of his pitch.  

Jeff Lenihan

Jeff Lenihan

 

St. Andrews and the 2015 British Open

I recently had the unique opportunity to visit the famous St. Andrews Links golf course, the home of the 2015 British Open on July 16-19. Preparations were well under way to welcome the world's best golfers to one of the world's best known and oldest courses.     The spectator stands were being constructed as we walked the fairways of the Old Course. Because the course is so flat, wind here is a major challenge for the golfers, and we certainly felt its power as it swirled around us on our walk.         Many people don't realize that the St. Andrews courses are basically open to the public. As we were there, kids were riding bikes through, couples were taking a midday stroll, and people were free to walk the course, as long as they stayed off the greens and tees. Keep in mind, this is about three weeks until the start of The Open! The "home of golf" looked like a neighborhood park, but there was still that awe factor and that feeling that you're standing on hallowed ground.     We got a bonus to the day as well, as the claret jug was out and being photographed on the Swilcan Burn Bridge, the iconic small bridge that connects the 1st and 18th fairways.    

Jeff Lenihan

Jeff Lenihan

 

Edinburgh Castle

Today, I visited the famous Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. It was built in medieval times, around the 12th century and sits on Castle Rock overlooking the city. Edinburgh Castle was involved in the War of Scottish Independence (yes, the one with William Wallace!) and withstood numerous sieges, including one that lasted two years. The architecture in the castle and the rest of this city is incredible. It is best described through pictures, from both the castle and the surrounding area:         Overlooking the city   Cannon ready to fire down on the city   Statue outside the Scottish National War Museum located in the castle     Scottish bagpiper playing on the street     Inside the Royal Palace

Jeff Lenihan

Jeff Lenihan

 

Chambers Bay feel at seaside Irish links course

Portmarnock is a small coastal town right outside Dublin in the southeast of Ireland. It is home to the Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links, a seaside resort that includes a spa, a 4 star hotel which is my home for the week, and an 18 hole Championship Links Course designed by Bernhard Langer.   View out of my hotel room window at Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links   Ocean view from the golf course...   With the U.S. Open being this week at Chambers Bay, you can imagine my surprise at walking onto a course that looked very similar to the pictures and videos I've seen this week from the Washington state course, with primarily fescue grasses (along with some bent grass and annual meadow grasses).   Fairway on the Portmarnock Golf Links course   While Chambers Bay is not a true links course, it tries to deliver the feel of one, like the Portmarnock Golf Links has achieved. The rolling fairways, deep bunkers, and almost indiscernible greens make this a unique challenge for golfers who come from all over the world to play this seaside course.   Fintan Brennan is the head groundsman here, and he has really become an expert in what it takes to prepare this course for play day-in and day-out. He has also used some new products to help maintain the course, including using the Recycling Dresser on one of his struggling fairways with great success.   Fintan Brennan and me   One product is of his own invention. The Greenstester is a hole-out tester much like the Stimpmeter. However, he has put in a curved pathway for the ball to roll on and into the cup, instead of the straight one that the Stimp provides. This allows the ball to get a true roll off the tester and onto the green, unlike the Stimp, where the ball bounces and doesn't provide a totally accurate reading. The Greenstester can really help a course manager pinpoint which individual greens need help and how. It is a really simple, very affordable device that can make a difference on any putting surface. More information, including a video, about this new product can be found at www.greenstester.com.     Another product Fintan has found useful is a new type of hybrid turf mat (below) that allows natural turf, such as ryegrass, to grow through it. He has used this for some of his walking paths to provide added strength and durability.    

Jeff Lenihan

Jeff Lenihan

 

Lots of Guinness... And some innovative equipment as well!

Ireland is an incredible place, with beautiful scenery and friendly people. And great beer. Specifically, Guinness. It is a thick and creamy beer that goes down smooth, and a heavenly pint of this dark and savory drink will have you wanting more of this delicious... But I digress. Back to turf!   Demonstration days give groundsmen the opportunity to see first hand equipment they believe can benefit them. With today's technology, you can see videos of new innovations at the push of a button. However, until you are actually there up close, seeing the results and benefits, it can be tough to totally buy in to new products. Until you are actually seeing (and feeling), for example, an Air2G2 lifting the ground, you might not be totally convinced just from the videos.   A part of the reason I came to Ireland was to help with demonstration days, in order to get as much exposure for Campey's products as possible. This week, I have visited three different sites in the north of Ireland.   A good variety of equipment on display gives groundsman different options to potentially add to their arsenal   Air2G2 on demonstration.   Imants Rotoknife   Many of the attendees were in charge of multiple pitches at different facilities that are used frequently. Compaction becomes a problem with frequent use. We demonstrated both the Shockwave and Recycle Dresser and got great feedback from the attendees.   Shockwave: aeration with little surface disruption   Watching the ground move side to side inside the Shockwave   For the first time, I got to see the Imants Sandcat in action. This machine cuts slits into the ground and funnels dry sand into them, all in one pass. It is ideal for improving drainage and soil structure in golf greens.   Imants Sandcat in action   Capable of injecting sand up to almost 5 inches deep (120mm)  

Jeff Lenihan

Jeff Lenihan

 

Dublin, Republic of Ireland: Croke Park

Today was the first day of two weeks I get to spend in Ireland. We got off the ferry at 5 am this morning loaded down with Campey equipment to show.   The visit today was to the center of Dublin and Croke Park, the home of the Gaelic Athletic Association. This massive stadium seats 80,000+, making it the third largest stadium in Europe behind Barcelona's Camp Nou and Wembley Stadium.       Croke Park is home to traditional Gaelic games like hurling, camogie (a game like hurling typically played by women), Gaelic football, handball and rounders (I had to Google these to see what they all were!). While we were there, a community event was held where thousands of kids got the chance to play hurling and camogie on the pitch.   Kids playing camogie at Croke Park.   We demonstrated some equipment for the groundsman, Stuart Wilson, and got a look around the park.The surface of the pitch looked immaculate today at the end of the season.   They will Koro a portion of it off next week for a concert and then take off another portion in July for an Ed Sheeran concert. After that, the bare areas will be sodded and Gaelic football will be played just five short days later.   Hollow-tining the sidelines with a Toro ProCore...   ... and sweeping up with an Imants Rotosweep.   The finished product after hollow-tining and sweeping.   Stuart faces the challenges of a multi functional facility. As you have read, it isn't just Gaelic games that are played here. Croke Park has seen football matches, concerts, and even American football games. Stuart and his team successfully handle this variety of events and keep the pitch looking mint all year round.

Jeff Lenihan

Jeff Lenihan

 

Imants Visit in Holland, and Staffordshire FA

After the pitch renovation in Denmark, I left with Lee in the truck to drive it home to Macclesfield. We went down into Germany and across into the Netherlands to get a ferry from Rotterdam to Hull.   On the way across Holland, we stopped in to the small town of Reusel, which is just outside of Eindhoven. This is where the Imants offices and manufacturing plant is located. I met the owner of Imants, Felix Peters, who showed us around.   The Imants factory   Imants Spader for agriculture   Shockwaves almost ready to go out   Imants run a very efficient operation and have many new ideas for products. They are known for cutting edge technology and it shows through the machinery they make.   Waiting for the ferry from Rotterdam, Netherlands to Hull, England   There was a bar, movie theater, and live shows on the boat   On Saturday, we were back in England at a pitch belonging to the Stafford Rangers, a lower league football team. They agreed to let a local company, Fine Turf Services, and us renovate their pitch and invite people to see it.   Staffordshire FA presentation   The Staffordshire FA was there too. They are a regional "arm" of the Football Association and are trying to promote youth grassroots football. Gareth Thomas, a football development officer, organized the whole thing and is really invested in helping out local groundsman. Andrew Jackson from Stoke City FC was also on hand and helped answer many questions.   Different method of leveling a goalmouth using the Koro Field Top Maker   Pitch has no irrigation so they tried a walking sprinkler. Might need to get a couple more!   The event attracted many groundsmen who run sites with low budgets and are looking for help to know how to properly maintain their pitch with the money they have. It was a really good day, and hopefully will lead to improvement in local football pitches.

Jeff Lenihan

Jeff Lenihan

 

Pitch renovation and demonstration day in Denmark...

We traveled to Denmark on Sunday to a town called Randers, near Aarhus. The pitch to be renovated belonged to Randers FC, a Danish Superliga team who will be competing in next year's Europa League.     Immediately after arriving at the pitch we saw that it was full of Poa annua, which grew well in the summer but checked out in November and December.   The Sporting Director for Randers FC, Peter Christiansen saw they had a problem and, along with the city council of Randers, decided to take action and let us come in and improve their pitch with a Koro renovation.   Before we could do that, a couple areas had to be removed with an excavator due to petroleum contamination. A couple years ago, overexcited fans threw oil onto the pitch and lit it on fire. It had never really fully recovered from that, so it was dug out and new soil was brought in.   Excavating and removing contaminated soil.   We completed the renovation in two days, using the Field Top Maker, Imants Rotosweep, Speedresser, and Recycle Dresser. There has been rain in the area for the past few days, so seeding will start once it is a bit drier.   Had to drive a short distance down the road to fill up first.   The renovation in progress.       All ready for seed once the weather clears and the soil dries up a bit.   There was also a demonstration day at the stadium and various council members and groundskeepers from around Denmark came. A good crowd of about 60 showed up to see the machines in action. We even made the news here in Randers as many people were wondering what we were doing to their pitch. Many of them were impressed with what they saw and let us know that.   Demonstration of the Koro Field Top Maker   ...and some classroom time.   Creating a quality pitch requires the willingness of people in power, like Peter from Randers FC, to take action, and knowledgeable groundsman to maintain the pitch after the renovation. The often-accepted way of "As long as it's green, we're good..." needs to become a thing of the past.   All loaded and ready for the drive back to England.

Jeff Lenihan

Jeff Lenihan

 

England FA National Football Centre- St. George's Park

St. George's Park is located in the middle of England and is the national training centre for all 24 of the England Football Association's teams, ranging from under-16s to the senior team. It was opened in 2012 and contains 14 (soon to be 15) pitches, one indoor artificial pitch, a rehabilitation and workout facility, a restaurant and bar, and a hotel.   We had the opportunity to stay a night at St. George's and get a tour from head groundsman Alan Ferguson. He and his staff of only 14 tend to the pitches and landscaping around St. George's Park.   Me with head groundsman Alan Ferguson   Over head view of St. George's Park (from huffingtonpost.com)   There are two Desso pitches on site at St. George's with more hybrid grass pitches planned in the near future. The senior team's training pitch is meant to be an exact replica of Wembley Stadium and is reserved for them alone. It is in outstanding condition year round.   While serving the England National Teams takes up a lot of his time, Alan also has to deal with other teams coming to use his grounds. From squads like Barcelona to the Qatari National Team, to rugby teams and women's football, these pitches are played on year round with very little time to rest.   Because of the busy schedule, it is tough to find time to renovate the pitches properly. His job is unique in that way, as there really is no off-season for him like other groundsman get normally. So, he must renovate a couple of pitches at a time in order to keep the others available for use.   Alan still finds a way to renovate and also uses the Koro Field Top Maker on his pitches. He employs the use of verti cutting to really encourage the spread of his desired grass (Lolium perrene) and help slow down Poa annua, which invades these pitches from the surrounding prairie and forest. This practice also helps him to grow in pitches quickly in tight windows of time.   Four weeks post renovation. Two more weeks and it will be fully recovered.   Senior Team pitch - replica of Wembley Stadium   Much like many of the top groundsman I have met this week, Alan is always willing to try something new and adapts to the challenges that managing this complex creates.

Jeff Lenihan

Jeff Lenihan

 

Wembley, Tottenham Hotspur, and the Emirates Stadium

Over the last couple days in London, I've been able to see some of the best pitches Europe has to offer. It started at the Arsenal Training Center on Tuesday and continued with the famous Wembley Stadium on Wednesday.   Wembley is the National Stadium in the UK and plays host to Championship games from all competitions, as well as being the home of the England National Football Team. It holds 90,000 people and can be recognized by the white arch sticking out of the London skyline.   Wembley Stadium with the distinctive white arch   On the pitch at Wembley.   While there, we met with head groundsman Tony Stones and delivered the Air2G2 he had ordered. While demonstrating that, we also showed a new product, called the Air Spike, which works by hand delivering air into the ground (used for around irrigation heads).   Tony and his assistant using the Air Spike probe connected to the Air2G2   On Thursday, we went to Tottenham Hotspur Training Centre and got a tour around the grounds with groundsman Paul Jones. As you can see below, there was hardly a blade of grass out of line. They were in the process of Koro'ing their pitches and Paul explained to me that they use glyphosate first to kill the grass and weaken the hold the roots have on the Desso fibers in the pitch. This makes the job easier on the Koro Field Top Maker and helps achieve a clean finish on the surface.   Tottenham Hotspur Training Facility   Glyphosate being applied to a pitch at the training centre. It will be Koro'd off in about 12 days.   Clean finish from glyphosate and Koro Field Top Maker   Our last stop on Thursday took us to Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal FC. The stadium pitch was being used for corporate events and hadn't been taken care of in over a week, so that is why it was very worn out. It will be Koro'd out on Monday.   View from Suite level of the Emirates pitch   We got to look at the pitch, the workshop, and the under-soil heating system they use at the Emirates. Head groundsman Paul Ashcroft and his assistant Reece Watson are very proactive in looking after the pitch, always looking for new ways to do things more efficiently. They have started experimenting with zeolite in an attempt to hold more nutrients in the sandy soil beneath the pitch. They are constantly trying new ideas and techniques to improve on an already top notch pitch. Everything must be perfect at a place like this, and that has shown, as they were the co-winners of the Premier League Pitch of the Year with Manchester United.   Workshop at Arsenal   Controls for the soil heating system at Emirates Stadium.

Jeff Lenihan

Jeff Lenihan

 

Arsenal FC and Wimbledon (All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club)

London is the location this week. Yesterday was a morning trip to Arsenal FC's Training Centre to meet with head groundsman Steve Braddock.   With us, we brought an Air2g2 and a Koro with a Universe rotor. The staff there tested out the Air2 on a patchy area of grass and used the Koro to clean out one of their Desso Grassmaster pitches.   The Air2G2 on demonstration at Arsenal FC's Training Centre.   The Universe rotor on the Koro did a fantastic job of removing the unwanted grasses and leaving the Desso fibers in the ground. Steve is very knowledgeable about his natural grass, and was even kind enough to show me their artificial turf as well. You can see it below in the picture being used as storage for their equipment and tractors!   Koro on a Desso Grassmaster pitch   Left was before and right is after the Koro (they had raked and broken up the turf before on the left)   Artificial pitch being put to good use at the training centre   First team pitch. It's the end of the season and it looks fantastic   Steve, me, and Andy from Arsenal   In the afternoon, we took a trip to Wimbledon and the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC), the home of the Wimbledon tennis tournament.   Neil Stubley, the head groundsman, is just the eighth head groundsman at the AELTC since it was founded in 1868. Neil took us to see most of the courts, including Court #1, #2 and the famous Centre Court. They keep the Centre Court and Court 1 under guard 24/7 and that security is tightened further when tournament time comes around.   Me with Neil Stubley, head groundsman at AELTC   Neil explained to us that they try to keep all 41 courts there up to Championship standard as many days out of the year as possible. One of the ways they do this is by using a Koro on every court after the tournament, even the hallowed grass of Centre Court. Neil has been Koro'ing for ten years and has seen the benefits of Poa annua control that it provides.   #2 Court. Drainage is handled by underground pumps because this court was built 5 meters below the water table   Centre Court at Wimbledon   Overhead roof is adjusted during the day to let light get to certain areas. Weighs 1,400 tons.     No. 18 Court   No. 1 Court is covered to give it some extra growth in time for the tournament in 5 weeks   Tennis ball made completely out of succulent plants

Jeff Lenihan

Jeff Lenihan

 

Manchester United vs Hull City

Today, I went to a Barclays Premier League game between Hull City and Manchester United. United is my favorite club in the Premier League, so I chose to travel to Hull in northeast England because Monday is a bank holiday in the UK so there is no work.   KC Stadium, home of Hull City FC Tigers   It was the last day of the season today and Hull City were on the edge of relegation to the Championship (lower division). They needed a win, so there was extra excitement in the air this weekend. I made the mistake of wearing some United gear while walking around town Saturday and got more than a few dirty looks. My tickets for the game were in the Hull supporters section, so I didn't wear any red to the game just to be safe.   Pregame with United warming up behind me   The atmosphere inside the stadium was electric. The home fans tried their very best to will their team to a win (it was so loud I could barely hear myself think at some points through the match). The Tigers played well, but the match ended a 0-0 draw and Hull City were relegated. However, the response from the fans was tremendous. They gave great support to the team and continued cheering until every last player had left the pitch.   All in all, it was a dream day. I experienced my first Premier League match and I got to see my favorite team and players. I stayed a bit late and watched the players come out of the locker room and onto the bus. Below are some great pictures of that, as well as some before and during the match.   Pitch gets some pregame water   Wayne Rooney, Angel Di Maria, and other Manchester United players warm up before the match   View from my seat of a Hull City corner kick   Halftime water/divot fixing. The green line in the lower left is a marking for rugby, as this stadium is used for multiple sports.   United Assistant Manager/former player Ryan Giggs signing autographs

Jeff Lenihan

Jeff Lenihan

 

Finland Pitch Renovation #2

Pitch renovation #1 was completed and we demonstrated all the equipment to local grounds managers. The field was seeded and then dragged with a drag mat to complete the renovation. The representative for NH-Koneet Oy, a machinery dealer we partnered with, informed us that the Finnish National Football Team would be training on the pitch once it was grown in.   Pitch renovation #2 took place at a popular community field called Pirkkola Pitch. This pitch was uneven and had some issues with compaction, but was properly constructed when you dug into the soil. We set to work and used the Koro, Speedresser, Recycling Dresser, Speedharrow, and seeders to renovate the pitch as explained in my last post.   One side of the pitch had some bad compaction; the Imants Shockwave was used with tremendous results. Immediately after we used it, the compaction was gone. The pictures below show the Penetrometer readings before and after the Shockwave.   Penetrometer readings before and after the Imants Shockwave was used on compacted ground.   Koro FIELDTOPMAKER in action at demonstration #2 in Finland.   The Vredo SuperCompact seeder ready to be demonstrated.   Barenbrug RPR Regenerating Perennial Ryegrass was used for the pitch renovation.   The Campey crew with the head groundsman of the pitch we renovated.   Another demonstration day was held, this time in the rain. Then, the truck was loaded and ready to be taken to Oslo, Norway. I will be going back to Manchester, however, for a busy week and a trip to London.   Loaded and locked down, headed to Norway.

Jeff Lenihan

Jeff Lenihan

 

Koro Pitch Renovations in Finland

I traveled to Finland on Saturday and met up with Lee Morgado and David Stonier, two of Campey's employees. They had just driven from Sweden and taken a ferry over to Finland with all of Campey's equipment on a truck for the renovation and demo days.   After a weekend doing a bit of sightseeing around Helsinki, we got started on Sunday with a Koro pitch renovation at a local community pitch which has had problems with drainage and winterkill.   When we dug into the pitch with a spade, we could see why. About 10 centimeters of hard soil ran into a black layer, followed by some good quality sandy soil. The groundsman said that they usually aerate using 15cm tines, but they would only go down to 10cm because the soil was so hard. That is where the black layer came from. Air must be introduced below that black layer and the good sandy soil below must be brought to the top.   It is dangerous for groundskeepers to keep thinking that things can be done the way they have always been done. The Koro method is a somewhat new way of doing things in the turf industry, but it has been proven to work. With big clubs using it (Real Madrid and Manchester United) to other less known ones (Malmö F.C in Sweden), Koro renovations have received outstanding reviews from groundskeepers and managers all around.   First, we used the Koro Field Top Maker (FTM) fitted with a Terraplane rotor to take off approximately the top 1 inch of turf. This also eliminates any thatch, as well as a majority of Poa annua.  The first three photos below show the FLM in action, and the amount of material taken off.           Next, we brushed off the pitch with an Imants Rotosweep. This got rid of any lingering dirt and debris. We then topdressed with sand using a Raycam Speedresser seen below. We used enough sand to replace what we took off with the FTM.       After speedressing, it was time to use the Koro Recycling Dresser. This machine tills down to about 20cm and brings up all the good material and mixes it in with the soil on top as well as the sand from topdressing. Then, the pitch is raked/dragged with a Raycam Sportsfield Harrow.           We left a part of the pitch undone for a demo day tomorrow.     About 50-60 groundsmen from around Helsinki are expected to come and see the Koro and all the other machines in action.

Jeff Lenihan

Jeff Lenihan

 

The Old Traffords and Leigh Sports Village

I was on the road with Ian again today and we drove into Manchester and to Old Trafford, the cricket grounds that is, not football just yet. There we met Matthew Merchant, the head groundskeeper. They had just finished up with a four day long cricket match, and Matthew was doing some work on the pitch.   Old Trafford cricket grounds   If you have never seen a cricket match before, they have a different way of managing their pitch than at a football or rugby stadium. Instead of growing on a primarily sandy soil, they grow on a mostly clay soil, and roll it constantly. This allows them to have a hard pitch, which is what the players want.   Another interesting thing about cricket pitches is the area where the bowler (like a pitcher in baseball) delivers the ball to the batsman --- it's called the pitch area. For this area, the grounds crew scalps the grass down to almost nothing. We got to see them repairing holes in this area using a clay mixture to fill in the spaces at Old Trafford.   Maintaining a cricket pitch really goes against everything you learn about normal turf management, but it is what must be done in order to have the field playing correctly for this particular sport.   Maintaining a cricket pitch really goes against everything you learn about normal turf management...   After visiting the Old Trafford cricket grounds, we visited the football grounds that Manchester United plays their games on. We didn't go on the pitch, however, because the head groundsman, Tony, was busy. So, we took some pictures outside, visited the store, and grabbed some sausage and chips with gravy at a cafe on Sir Matt Busby Way.     Next up was a visit to Leigh Sports Village, a multi-sport complex that is home to five different clubs including a rugby team, Manchester United and Blackpool's under-21 football teams. The head groundskeeper, Keith Porter, works there along with his son Martin. Keith was the head man at Manchester United's training grounds at Carrington, before going into business for himself doing contract work.   Leigh Sports Village pitch   The rugby/football pitch at Leigh was made with Desso Grassmaster hybrid grass, which was my first time seeing a Desso pitch in person. Desso is a Netherlands based company who have supplied these hybrid grass fields to just about all the top clubs in Europe.   Installing a Desso pitch takes about two weeks. About two million individual strands of Desso artificial grass are sewn into the ground about 17cm down. As the natural grass grows, it's roots wrap themselves around the artificial strands, giving the pitch a lot of strength.   Instead of normal divoting you would usually see on a field, where the whole plant comes out, there is scarring with only slight lines taken out of the turf. This is a big benefit both aesthetically and for the smooth roll of the ball.   When looking at a Desso pitch, it is hard to tell that it is one, unless there is an area that is torn up. Only then can you see the artificial strands poking through.   "Scarring" of the Desso pitch. This is a lot less damage than divots in a regular pitch   "Scarring" of the Desso pitch. This is a lot less damage than divots in a regular pitch

Jeff Lenihan

Jeff Lenihan

 

On the Road: Baroness and Air2G2 demonstrations

Today was a busy day, as I was out on the road with Ian Campbell, Campey's UK and Ireland Sales Manager. We first went to a new client of Ian's at nearby golf course to demonstrate a rough mower made by Baroness. The picture below shows Ian on the mower with the grounds manager and a Baroness sales rep watching the demo.       After that, we traveled to Stamford Golf Cub (established 1901, about 12 miles from Manchester city center) where I got to see one of the newest innovations in turf put through its paces. The Air2G2 (or GT Air Inject) is a self propelled three probe air injection machine that injects compressed air up to 12 inches deep into the soil, causing a fracturing effect in the compacted rootzone. The amazing thing about this machine is that it aerates the soil with no interruption to play. As it rolled along, I could see the green raising up slightly with each injection of air. After it was done, you could hardly tell that it had been aerated.   The Air2G2 on demo at Stamford Golf Club.   The three probes insert into the soil or greensmix and inject air to fracture the soil.   Aeration pattern of the Air2G2... no interruption in play.   Closeup of the aeration hole left by the Air2G2

Jeff Lenihan

Jeff Lenihan

 

First Day at Campey

Today was my first day at Campey Turfcare Systems. They have a great office building as well as a spare parts building, lots of storage for equipment, and a workshop. After meeting almost everyone, the rest of my day was spent in the workshop with Charlie, the head of maintenance. Charlie put me to work on a lot of odd jobs, some of which included some general maintenance and cleaning of their equipment.   I also got to see a Koro Field Top Maker, one of Campey's main products, being assembled.   The universal shaft rotor on a Koro Field Top Maker.   The afternoon was spent cleaning out and getting a Vredo SuperCompact Seeder ready for use tomorrow morning at a nearby golf course. Mr. Campey and I will travel there in the morning for that job.   The Vredo SuperCompact Seeder ready to go on the trailer

Jeff Lenihan

Jeff Lenihan

 

In the UK

After 5,300 miles of traveling in 24 hours, I am finally in the UK, more specifically, Manchester, England. Mr. Campey was waiting to provide a ride back to his house, where I will be staying for a few days. On the way back, we glimpsed a view of some nearby famous soccer players' houses, including Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney's upscale house.   After a delicious meal of quiche, boiled ham and potatoes, we took a ride around the town, looking at the rolling hills and beautiful scenery. Macclesfield, the area where I am staying currently, is big into raising sheep, and you can even see some in the distance out of my bedroom window in the picture.   Tomorrow, I start work at Campey's, so I will provide an update after my first day.

Jeff Lenihan

Jeff Lenihan

 

Here We Go...

After two sleepless nights studying earlier this week, final exams at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are behind me and I am getting ready to fly to the UK tomorrow. I just finished up my sophomore year at Lincoln, where I am majoring in Turfgrass Management with a minor in Business Administration.   I completed an internship last summer at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, OH, where I was fortunate enough to be connected to Mr. Mike O'Keeffe, the Program Manager for the Ohio State University's Global Intern Program. He informed me of an internship available in the UK with Campey Turfcare Systems, and I jumped at the chance.   Getting ready to go to Europe isn't the easiest thing, but Mike, Richard Campey and his daughter, Julia, have made the preparation easy with all of the help they have given me. The program Mr. Campey has designed for me will take me to six different countries over the next two months! While over there, I hope to learn more about Campey's Koro "fraise mowing" football renovation methods as well as learn a bit about the sales and business side of the company.   I will provide updates on this page on what I am doing for Campey, as well as a couple of posts about some fun things that I do around Europe!   Fraise mowing renovation

Jeff Lenihan

Jeff Lenihan

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