The tutorial was held by Ben Taylor, Bernhard Limited's Technical Training Manager, as a demonstration of their Express Dual and Anglemaster grinders.
Starting with a Toro fairway mower, the Bernhard representative set the mower units up to 'Greenkeeper' specifications. This meant adjusting the units until contact was made between reel and bedknife, as this is how countless greenkeepers believe units should be set to get the best results. We also measured how much diesel was in the tank prior to cutting.
We used the mower to cut half a football pitch on the site, and timed the operation. As we observed the cutting it began to rain which, we would later find out, would have an effect on the amount of grass that was cut. We used boxes throughout the cutting so that we could empty them into a sack and weigh them to record how much grass was taken off.
After the first half was finished, we headed back into the shed to record the results;
We then removed the units and bottom blades and put them in their respective grinders. The Bernhard representative then ran us through how to set up each machine to get optimum results when cutting.
He began by telling us about the different 'faces' on a bottom blade and the desired angles. The top face angle, or 'ejection angle', should be set at 8°. This is to ensure that, after the grass is cut, it is 'ejected' out of the reel to leave a clean surface for oncoming blades of grass.
The second angle mentioned was the front face angle and its importance to stand the grass up straight, and in position, as the reel spins and cuts the grass.
We talked about how surgically shard blades and reels can improve the quality of cut and general health of the turf. This is because sharp mowers employ a scythe action when cutting, not a tearing action which would leave an open wound in the turf and create an environment susceptible to disease. Using a macroscope, we confirmed the suspicions that a poorly set up mower would shred the grass.
As we went to lunch, the rest of the reels were ground and set up the correct way, with light/no contact. We re-filled the fuel tank to match the level of the first run and cut the second half of the pitch in exactly the same way, and using the same driver. However, on this run, the rain had stopped and the grass dried out a little.
*It may seem as though we cut less grass when the reels were sharp but this is because the grass was dry on the second run. When carried out on a dry day I would expect to see more grass removed when reels are sharp.
It is obvious to see that sharp units not only reduce the amount of time taken to do a job but also the amount of diesel used and, in today's current economic climate, can your golf club afford NOT to grind reels regularly?
In summary, the tutorial was interesting and eye opening and, if you still have any doubts on the benefit of reel grinding, I urge you to attend a tutorial near you.