Natural and Economical Turf Management

The way in which we build and maintain golf courses has gone off the rails over the last 4 decades. We have become obsessed with symptoms management, completely forgetting the importance of turf/soil ecology in the process.

I offer a consulting service to golf clubs that helps to turn that around and get things back on an even keel for the long term.

Most golf clubs have problems at some time with the condition of their greens and this is largely due to following the herd when it comes to maintenance procedures.

Greenkeepers are increasingly worried that they will lose their jobs if they don’t seem to be following the commonly acknowledged wisdom of the industry.

This “wisdom” insists that sand is the ultimate growing medium for fine turf and that its continued use (abuse) will guarantee fast, smooth and easily drained greens.

Well if you’ve been a member of a golf club for any time you will know that this actually results in extensive problems with inconsistency in green playability, is increasingly expensive and promotes disruptive maintenance practices which unfortunately just perpetuate the problems they seek to solve.

We have lost sight of the fine balance that is turf/soil ecology and many of our golf greens now suffer from disease, disorders and a multitude of playability dis-functions such as flooding, spongy turf and even green closure for large parts of the year…usually always blamed on climate change and crazy weather patterns.

I can’t deny that the weather has a very big part to play here, but if that is the case we need to be taking note and not just marching out the same old maintenance routines that have failed us.

Modern greenkeeping has become a system whereby we think we can manage nature and simply react to symptoms of problems which is of course not feasible as more and more clubs are now finding out to their cost.

So many clubs, guided by sand and symptoms enthusiasts are now in the second or third round of green re-construction having been convinced that their greens have reached their sell by date, despite having been lavished with expensive maintenance practices costing hundreds of thousands of pounds over the last few decades!

Its time to  take stock; many clubs are now in a precarious financial position due in part to unsustainable, mis-guided and highly inappropriate golf course maintenance. In many parts of the UK supply of golf far outstrips demand and clubs have to offer something special to golfers in order to win their business.

Fine, firm turf in an interesting and stimulating natural environment is all most golfers are looking for; why have we become so distracted from providing this simple list of features?

Many clubs have greens that are suffering from the continued downward cycle that I call the circle of decline. Greens in the later stages of this problem are routinely condemned and re-built at great expense. This causes disruption to play, a loss of the finer points of the original design concept of some historically important courses and of course depletes the club coffers to a dangerous level in many cases.

I use a simple, hands on approach to golf course rejuvenation that is based on a thorough understanding of turfgrass/soil ecology and pays heed to the original design concepts of your course and greens.

There is quite often no need to re-build greens and quite often also a vast improvement in playability, a reduction in course closure and a general uplift in mood among staff and members when improvements are experienced within the first year of following a more ecologically aware maintenance regime.

Of course, the largely unmentioned bonus is that there is much less financial pressure on the club by following such a plan.

Every golf course is different of course, so the best way to find out what I can do for you is simply to contact me for an informal chat in the first instance.

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