Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Future of Golf Architecture in Canada – Part 5 - British Style Maintenance





St. Andrew's











Eventually Canadian golf will be forced to accept "brown" through changes in legislation, why not do something about it now.

At the Calgary Golf Course Superintendents Conference I was able to ask a number of superintendents about the possibility of going to a British style approach to maintenance - which meant fewer inputs, lower fertility and less water – with a new course. Most loved the idea until I asked about existing courses. The certain saw the benefits and would like to do it but many feared the membership’s reaction the first time the turf went a little brown.


Crystal Down 5th












In reading a recent article by Mike Miller – superintendent of Crystal Downs – He outlined the process and timelines it would take to have a more British approach to turf at Crystal Downs. His feelings were that without re-seeding it would take 10 years to change the turf to accept lower water demand and reduce the need for inputs. The article can be found here: http://www.gcsaa.org/gcm/2008/feb/feature6.asp


Brora's 6th - no fairway irrigation












It will be hard for existing courses to convert, but it is a lot easier to plan for it with new designs since there is no existing turf to convert and we start with a blank slate. Why wouldn’t we create a new course ready for a different approach to maintenance and get ahead of the curve.

The only way to make this goal realistic is to provide ideal growing conditions. The reason that British courses require so little input is that they are generally out in the open and on sandy soils. When greens receive full sun they are able to use photosynthesis to make lots of food which makes them less likely to be susceptible to disease and pests. This tells us that if architects want to help make this change in maintenance styles we will need to spend time finding green sites that are excellent places to grow turf. We need to make sure the site is well drained and take down enough trees. This is where we need the authorities to recognize the goal. Since trees are the greatest threat to healthy turf, clearings around greens need to be wide. The authorities will have to support more tree removal on new projects – understanding this is for the greater good.

Alwoody - how we will eventually look












Canadians will need to change their current expectations of wall to wall green because is not sustainable. They will have to understand that turf can be green or brown and still be healthy.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

We will be moving in that direction for economic reasons as well. Note: in your picture of St. A's, I notice that there are 6 - count them 6 - fairway mowers on one hole. If this is the "British Style of Maintenance" I don't know if many courses could afford it (that's $200k of mowers alone).

Anonymous said...

If you notice in the same picture there are grandstands implying they are preparing the course for the British Open.

Anonymous said...

Here in Thailand a course is being built to take advantage of the waste water from a nearby Brewery. I wonder if there are similar opportunities to use waste water in Canada. Is the Cutten Club not doing something similar?

Anonymous said...

As a golfer in Canada's Niagara Region, I'd love to see this happen. Aside from the obvious environmental/ budgetary benefits, I think it would also make the golf experience much more interesting. In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with a golf course that changes with the weather conditions. I'm a member at a moderately priced semi-private course and am often frustrated with the lush fairways & greens vs the bone dry rough we tend to have in July & August. To me, it would make more sense to match (at least) the fairway conditions to the rough and have it all play firm and fast. Moreover, it just feels excessive to have lush fairways and greens while the rest of the region is in near-drought conditions.

There's a links style course here formerly known as Hunter's Pointe. It would be amazing to see that place with this British style maintenance. It would be interesting to play a ground game there, but's always so lush that it seems impossible. My course is more parkland style, but I'd still love the chance to play it under the firm and fast conditions that less watering would bring.

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