Find out what our greenkeepers for both courses get up to in the lead up to Club Championship week.
How to get the course Club Championship ready
Preparation for the Club Championships start for us as soon as the dates are set during the winter months. We can then work backwards from that date to plan for the biggest week of the year.
We first look at nutrition and colour as they need to be as near to the perfect colour and condition as possible. Therefore, we will apply a foliar feed with iron on the green a week before the competition, so plant health and colour is at its optimum. A week before we will reduce the height of the cut by half a millimetre to increase speed slightly. A sand dusting will be applied two weeks before as well to improve trueness and speed. Our maintenance windows are designed around the club championships, therefore our maintenance will be light before the event.
Attention to detail is critical in our role, albeit this is related to manpower. Jobs such as trimming our 650 sprinkler heads, cleaning the course signage and tunnel areas, de-stoning, weeding and adjusting bunker levels are all completed leading up to the event. Bunker maintenance takes up many work hours, therefore during the week, we increase our casual staff levels to help us with this.
On the evening previous, the team will come in while the course is shut to change holes, cut surrounds and semi-rough. This gives us a chance to cut in the dry therefore leaving less debris. Doing this allows us to cut the main playing surfaces in the morning including the Greens (which will be brushed and hand cut, then ironed), Aprons, Tees and Fairways. Doing all this on the same day dramatically improves the aesthetics of the course.
Pin positions are set out the month before, and this is done so we can keep the area clear of plugs around the hole and keep the surface around the hole pristine. The other thing we take into consideration is wind direction. We can’t predict the wind direction on the day, but we do think about playability. For example, the 16th on The Downs Course won’t be placed too tight on the right in case the wind is too strong, and the shot becomes extremely hard.
In the days leading up, we make sure there is enough moisture in the soil for the plant to stay healthy for a few days and then the night before the irrigation on the greens is turned off. We do this to firm the green up slightly, so it is somewhat more responsive to the ball. We also have a contingency plan in case we get a sprinkler stuck up during the night, causing a green to flood, which can happen although unlikely.
We look forward to seeing you on the course!
Rob Dyer, Head Greenkeeper of The Downs Course, and Simon Berry, Head Greenkeeper of The Park Course.