The Pile Up Green?

The Pile Up Green or is it the Pileup green, or my favourite the Pushup green?

I was talking to a prospective client of mine in NJ, and did a double take, as he twice referred to his clubs old greens as pile ups. So, I had to interrupt and ask if I heard him correctly. He said I did, and that terminology was what the club referred to their original greens construction in their old archives and historical notes.

In 25 years in the business, I had never heard of the term applied to pre-automatic irrigation greens designed to hold rainwater. But, I love it because it just refers to the simplistic approach that was adhered to by all early era golf architects. By using the word "simplistic", I need to quantify that by also adding extremely ingenious as well, as evidenced by this green below at Shinnecock Hills GC:

The tilted tub is one of the most difficult "Redans" in the world, #7 @Shinnecock Hills GC NY
I find this shot of the piled up green as an obvious example at the beginning of the 20th century, of the construction savvy of these early golf architects. One could quickly opine that they built them this way to shed surface water off the green cavity. That is surely a big part of their intention here, but other factors were in play here as well. The first being the single yard earth scrapers used, which were dragged by horses. Back then, moving  the above amount of dirt a long distance wasn't even considered, so they basically worked within the confines of the area where the green site was chosen, and carved up as much as dirt as possible, as close to the green site as possible and "piled it up". Smartly, before doing so, they would have scraped off the existing topsoil in the area, and "piled it up" adjacent to the proposed green cavity.

Once the desired amount of fill was achieved, the green cavity was usually cut in about 4-6 inches deep, and usually without any internal greens drainage, so as to create a bathtub which would hold rainwater in the greens cavity during the spring rains, so they didn't have to drag water to the green during the heat of the summer.

They then filled the greens cavity with the saved topsoil, and mixed in some sheep and horse manure, and voila, you had a greensmix that stood the test of time, or at least until golfer expectations demanded that all greens have PGA tournament conditions throughout the playing season?

Many clubs have come to the realization that in order to provide modern conditions on these old Pileups or Pushup Greens, they have to pull the plug on the aforementioned "bathtub", so as to avoid extreme summer soil temperatures caused by the high gravitational groundwater table installed by the original architect. This is when XGD Systems generally gets a phone call to come out and review the issues to see if our internal subsurface greens drainage process might be a good fit at their club. If it is a good fit, another perfect compliment is to possibly utilize XGD's re-grassing services, and you have basically rebuilt the green, without really rebuilding it, and keeping intact the original architects contours and intent.

Ahh, the pileup green, a new take to me anyways, on the timeless golf architecture classic of the pushup green.

Cheers, Poor Old Dirt & Grass Farmer

1 Comments so far

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