18 RA IN B I RD Slottsbanan 2.0 GCA Green Pages hears from the team involved in renovating Ålands Golf Club in Finland, which includes new irrigation technology from Rain Bird T he Åland Islands are located at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia in the Baltic Sea. Here, in the most spectacular location, is one of Finland’s finest golf courses, Ålands Golf Club. The club is famed for its two magnificent 18-hole courses, Kings and Castle course, a fine parkland track known as the Slottsbanan designed by Jan Sederholm and built in 1983. A bold €2 million renovation of the Castle course redesigning holes and rerouting greens over water and capitalising on the stunning scenery started in August 2018. When complete in May 2020, golfers will enjoy sublime views across water wherever they play. Åsa Nordström has been Ålands Golf Club course director for eight years and explains the background to the decision to renovate the Castle course. “We have a very unique and historically important site. The Slottsbanan 2.0 project will upgrade the visual appeal of the course and take advantage of all the natural features we have around us including the bay and mediaeval castle. We want to enhance the player experience and make the course more fun so that every golfer at every level enjoys success and gets a real sense of achievement. “In terms of renovating the irrigation system, it was an easy decision because we’ve had Rain Bird systems on both courses for some time with very good support from our local Rain Bird distributor, Schetelig OY. With the new system we can be more accurate, use less water and achieve a better result which will help us achieve our targets, including being able to improve the quality of greens at the start of the season. We should use less resource in terms of staff hours compared to the existing system so there will be cost savings. Hopefully we can extend our season too. Most years, helped by the warm sea, we can often play on well into October.” Rain Bird’s European golf specification manager Stuart Tate explains: “The existing Rain Bird systems are being upgraded and will run as a hybrid system running 18 holes on the decoder system in parallel with a new IC system from a single computer. The original PVC pipes are being replaced with 19,500 metres of new HDPE polyethylene piping and 23,000 metres of two-core control cabling. Rain Bird 751 and 950 valve-in-head ICS rotors are being installed on greens, surrounds and approaches, with 950 and 900 rotors in double rows on fairways with tail nozzles where required, with smaller 550 block control rotors and PEB-IC Valve c/w PRS-Dial Pressure regulators installed on tees.