Since my appointment at Course Manager, the Greens team has worked hard to ensure that the Club has become sustainable in the face of on-going changes to legislation which increasingly restricts the use of chemicals and pesticides on the course.
I personally invest time in personal development to ensure I am fully conversant with current legislation and best practice and this knowledge is continually shared with the team. Working practice aligns to R&A guidelines, the basic principles for sustainable golf being:
Finer grasses (such as Bents and Fescues) thrive in soil conditions of much lower fertility than required by weed grasses which dominate many courses due to poor management. It is of utmost importance that excess fertiliser is not applied to ‘force’ growth and lush, green conditions in the UK often demonstrate overfeeding and will result in future problems. Remember, when did you last see the Open played on a ‘green’ golf course?
Where Clubs elect to re-build greens this will only deliver long term benefit if the practice that resulted in such actions being needed actually change, sadly this is often not the case.
Many courses rely heavily on the use of pesticides to control turf pests and diseases. Many of these disease outbreaks are due to poor course management practice such as the application of excessive fertilisers in order to promote growth and colour (often this is driven by Member pressure for a course that looks like Augusta!). Creating an environment that favours weed grasses, that are more susceptible to many turf diseases, is neither good practice or indeed desireable.
Not much we can do about the weather in the West of Scotland!
Having said that, great care must be taken to apply sufficient water to enable the desires grasses to survive. Soft damp greens might make them ‘hold’ but they are also create the optimal environment for weed grasses to thrive.
Creating an environment for Bent and Fescues to become the dominant species is key. frequent top-dressing and frequent aeration are vital for the creation of greens where fine grasses will dominate.
We will top-dress and aereate our greens throughout the year and have significantly improved our greens, and enhanced the putting surfaces, by following this practice.
In a word, yes!
– we have minimal spending on pesticides
– outbreaks of disease are, thankfully, few and are always promptly addressed
– our greens are now c72% Bent grass, 8% Fescue and only 20% Pao (weed grass)
– 2004 STRI survey commended MGC and stated “It is pleasing to report that the work you have done is amongst the best we have seen, keep up the good work”
– spruce tree removal programme is on-going
– carbon footprint reduced, fertilisers, sands, grass seed and all golf course consumables are sourced from companies based in Scotland
We should all feel proud that we are Members of a Club which is striving to ensure its future in a sustainable way. We are well placed to deal with further legislative changes and can be confident that we will continue to enjoy a course that is in harmony with the local environment.