John Lockyer is a qualified agronomist with more than 30 years of international experience in turf care management and a cv that includes spells at golf courses around the world as well as time with the Sports Turf Research Institute as a senior consultant. So when he talks about the immense value of rolling and recommends specific rollers, others tend to take notice.
It was during a spell in the United States that John first came across Salsco rollers. He was so impressed that, when he took his current role as Director of Greenkeeping at The Wisley in Surrey, he went to a lot of trouble to source Salsco at a time when the brand wasn’t widely available in the UK. Seven years later, he is on the point of investing in them again but this time via Lister Wilder, which has recently become sole UK importer.
“It was in the US in the mid-1990s that I had my first experience of ride-on greens rollers and of Salsco,” John recalls. “I learned the benefits of regular rolling for greens performance, smoothness, trueness, firmness and speed and also in helping the greens recover after hollow coring and any disruptive work that we needed to do but which members hate.
“When back in the UK I found there were various rollers available, but they weren’t of the same build quality and they certainly weren’t heavy enough for me. There were all lightweight rollers at best because everyone was very afraid of soil compaction. Rightly so maybe because we weren’t at that time doing as much regular aeration as we do now to undo the effects of foot traffic and rolling.”
Watching the 2013 US Open at Merion in Pennsylvania on television, John spotted Salsco fairway rollers hard at work tackling fairway flooding. On arrival at The Wisley the following year he decided he needed Salscos in his armoury and, in the absence of a UK agent, decided to import them himself.
The club initially purchased two Tranz-Former rollers for the fairways and two (two-roller) HP11-II greens rollers. But when the three-unit HP11-III was launched three years later it offered a much greater (73-inch) rolling width and with it a significant increase in productivity.
“I was really encouraged because I already knew the build quality was fantastic,” says John. “We had been using the fairway rollers on the greens because they were heavier, wider and got the job done more quickly. But they were too heavy to put on the greens in winter, so the new HP11-III had a real advantage in maintaining the productivity while reducing the weight, but still with the option of adding water to the rolls as ballast when it was right to do so.” The machine offers 7psi ground pressure without water and 9.2psi with.
John invested in three HP11-IIIs – one for each of Wisley’s three nine-hole courses. His team incorporates a double roll of each green and a single roll of the surrounds into their 6am daily set-up routine throughout the year.
“We have seen an increase in playing performance because our greens are firmer, smoother and faster,” says John. “We also roll directly after hollow coring or aeration to settle the surface more quickly.
He adds: “The Salscos are reliable, easy to use and fuel-efficient. We have some very steep, undulating greens but they never struggle to get traction. We have the optional roller brushes, and while you might see a little bit of drop-off, it’s generally dealt with as it comes off the roller.”
John is delighted that his next machines will be imported not by him but by Lister Wilder. “We have dealt with them for years and they are a reliable company – very good on the sales support front but also on after sales and service. Their involvement gives us great confidence in buying Salsco again.”