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Marty Richardson: Interning at The Island Golf Club


Chemical Rescue...

Posted in On the course 29 September 2017 · 446 views

Golfers today have grown accustomed to playing on quality turf and are willing to pay higher greens fees to play on tour-quality greens. Chemical Rescue is one method widely used by greenkeepers and golf course managers in the UK and Ireland on links, heathland and parkland courses. 

 

Rescue is a selective herbicide from Syngenta that attacks ryegrass in greens, tees, fairways, approaches, and roughs. In the past turf managers would have to remove ryegrass through hand-weeding or re-turfing areas. Rescue attacks the ryegrass and other coarse grass weeds like Yorkshire Fog and Purple Moor-grass but leaves the finer grasses unaffected.

 

The main reason greenkeepers want to remove ryegrass from their course is to achieve the most uniform turf surface possible. Using Rescue helps to achieve this creating a more consistent ball roll. It also gives a cleaner finish when mowed.  Removing unwanted ryegrass from out-of-play areas allows wildflowers and biodiversity to thrive.

 

The way Rescue herbicide works is that when sprayed the chemical pinoxaden targets specific enzymes within ryegrass that are responsible for cell division and shuts those down to instantly stop growth.

 

The Island Golf Club uses this product approximately twice a year -- once in the early spring months to minimize summer growth and again in the late summer, early fall months. Our last spray was at the beginning of August. The Island uses about 1 liter per hectare on their greens and the same amount for their approaches.

 

The Island has been using this Rescue regimen for about 3 years now in alignment with industry approved codes and practices. The final product on the greens is a smoother surface improving the playability and the appearance of the course.




Irish Rock and Roll Museum

Posted in Excursions 15 September 2017 · 575 views

On one of my first ventures into Dublin, I noticed the rich influence of music throughout the city. There were musical references such as mosaics of Bono from the group U2, bar and street names, Irish music pub crawls, and even hotels with a musical inspiration The Gibson Hotel, for one.  To further explore the music scene, I was fortunate enough to get a tour of the Irish Rock and Roll Museum Experience.

 

 

The museum is located in the Temple Bar District and its hard to miss. Its a big red building with not just music memorabilia on the inside, but also painted walls and musician photos on the outside. The museum has a plethora of artifacts, photos, legendary concert stages, backstage areas, and some wax figures of Irish international musicians.

 

Candid shots of many of the Irish legends line the walls of the halls throughout the building.

 

I loved the U2 room and seeing the 1987 Cardiff Arms Park poster for the Joshua Tree tour (I wish I could have been there). They even had a jacket on display from Michael Jackson for reasons given in the tour. The exhibits that included ticket stubs, original records, clothing and more from the older rock and rollers like Thin Lizzy, Van Morrison, David Bowie, Phil Lynott, and Rory Gallagher to the newer groups like Sinead OConnor, The Script or Gavin James.

 

U2 memorabilia.

 

I enjoyed the hour-long tour with our guide, Dave, who was very knowledgeable on the way rock and roll started in Ireland. It also included a cool short movie about the significant Irish musicians. We even got to dress up and play drums and guitars which was good fun.

 

One of the best parts of the museum which adds to its tangible history, is that it still houses functioning rehearsal spaces and a nightclub. The Button Factory offers the Crowbar with craft beer and a musical venue for bands and artist to play in front of a live audience. Temple Lane Recording Studios are also available for tour if they aren't being used at the time. Many records were produced here where artists like Rihanna and The Script have recorded in the past.

 

 

This tour was a great way to start my adventures in Ireland and is definitely a stop for every rock fan, musician or music lover visiting Dublin.




Activity keeps the inevitable homesickness at bay...

Posted in Excursions, Reflections 25 August 2017 · 921 views

My time in Ireland started this past May and while the people, experiences, and culture have been amazing, there are times where it gets a little difficult and I miss my family and friends. Sometimes seeing status updates from my friends and events I'm unable to attend makes me homesick. Up until recently I haven't had much time to think about this too much because I've kept busy with my job at The Island; working different golf tournaments; and attending the ultimate: the 146th Open Championship. But now that things have slowed down a bit, I need to have something to look forward to and take my mind off of home. Recently that was meeting up with my cousin, Ali, in Dublin.

 

Sometimes seeing status updates from my friends and events I'm unable to attend makes me homesick...

 

Ali has been traveling around Europe for almost a month and came into town on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday the weather was, again, a typical day -- sunny, cloudy, little rainy, and then sunny again. For an adventure, we decided on the Bray Head cliff walk. Its a 7 km (4.35 miles) mile hike from Bray to Greystones in County Wicklow.  It is a stunning coastal path that is well maintained and features plenty of wildlife and once-in-a-lifetime views of the Irish Sea. Once you arrive and admire the amazing scenery, if you are too tired to return the way you came, you can take the DART from Greystones all the way to the City Centre. The public transportation in Ireland is fantastic. The DART (which is what the city light rail system is called) runs almost everywhere and includes beautiful views.

 

Bray Head cliff walk in Co.Wicklow.

 

On Sunday, we decided to visit the remarkable Gaiety Theatre in downtown Dublin for one of the biggest shows to come out of Ireland: Riverdance. It is unlike anything I have ever seen before. It was an exciting mix of traditional Irish dance and fantastic music, which intertwined the Irish folk band Planxty with a rock rhythm section of electric bass and drums and a four-piece horn section.

 

Riverdance at the Gaiety Theatre in downtown Dublin

 

Riverdance was first performed during the seven-minute interval of the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest at the Point Theatre in Dublin on April 30th 1994. The performance was transmitted to an estimated 300 million viewers worldwide and earned a standing ovation from the packed theatre of 4,000 people. The performance is often considered the most well known interval act in Eurovision Song Contest history.

 

Following phenomenal success in Dublin and London in 1995, Riverdance traveled to the United States for the first time in March 1996. On March 13th the show opened at the legendary Radio City Music Hall for the first of eight sold-out performances over five days. Riverdance continues to be performed all over the world, in a diminished format and in smaller venues. Current productions are geared towards smaller theatres, whereas past productions have been performed in large theatres and arenas.

 

I know that missing home is normal, and traveling has pushed me out of my comfort zone...

 

I know that missing home is normal, and traveling has pushed me out of my comfort zone.. Some days I feel lonely, sad, and overwhelmed but knowing this and expecting it has helped. Ive been lucky to keep busy with work thus far and have learned that during my down times to plan something fun, tour around and visit the local venues. But I have to say seeing my cousin Ali was a lot of fun and has renewed my excitement of being over here. Thanks Ali! It was great spending time with you. I now look forward to my parents, sister and her fiancé coming at the end of August. We have tours planned and a drive up the coast. I cant wait.




Pot-seeding the greens

Posted in On the course 18 August 2017 · 686 views

Over the past week we have started the annual seeding process in conjunction with fall aerifying to get our greens in tip-top shape to prepare the course for the winter months to come. To do this, we have been pot seeding our greens for the past few days. The process of "pot seeding" involves needle tining, seeding, a drag mat, and a lot of sand.  

 

To begin, this process starts with needle tining, producing precisely cut aeration holes for maintaining outstanding greens. Normally the tines on the ProCore aerator look like needles but in the pot seeding process we flip the tines over so they are flat headed when turned onto the greens surface. This creates a bigger hole, with an exact depth making it easier for the seed to actually get into the hole. 

 

...in the pot seeding process we flip the tines over so they are flat headed when turned onto the greens surface.

 

The next step is to use a walk-behind spreader to fold the Barenbrug fescue seed on the greens. 220kg (about 440 lbs) of seed was applied to 1.1 hectares (2.8 acres) of green surface. These seeds have the Yellow Jacket seed coating with a special wetting agent. It is like having a sponge around each and every seed that absorbs and holds moisture and other nutrients. This helps the seeds to germinate and establish. 

 

The reversed needle-tine holes ready for seeding.

 

The next step is the use of an Astroturf mat on the back of a greens mower to gently drag the seeds into the holes.  After this, around 36 tons of sand go on top of the greens. Each green gets a heavy coating of sand to fill in the small holes and cover the seed. Then we wait until the sand is dry. Since it was a little wet the first day (after the that day we had 50 mm (~2 inches) of rain the sand took some time to dry. When it was time, we went back to the Astroturf mat to drag the sand into the holes again. 

 

After a few days, all 18 holes were finished. These little pot-spike holes are excellent growing pots and once the seed starts to germinate, we start the watering process. Coming up later this week we are going to do another light top dress on the greens and a top dress on the aprons and surrounds of the greens. 

 

Sanding in-process.

 

By applying these basic techniques, the whole process of aeration-to-cleanup is quick and efficient. This allows us to get our course back to playing condition as soon as possible and the golfers can resume play. 

 

Fescue seed germinating in the pot-seeding holes.




The Irish Open at Portstewart: An experience to remember...

Posted in Excursions 27 July 2017 · 682 views

My recent experience at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open 2017 was one to remember! This tournament was the start of three weeks of top-class links golf in Europe, followed by the Scottish Open in Dundonald and The Open at Royal Birkdale. Portstewart Golf Club was the host for this year's event.

 

Upon arriving I could clearly understand why Rory McIlroy said, "Portstewart is an excellent links course and one of Northern Ireland's hidden gems." Additionally, when tour officials visited the course, they too dubbed it has having one of the most spectacular front-nines in Great Britain and Ireland -- on the north coast of Northern Ireland. Imagine how thrilled I was to be a part of maintaining this amazing course.

 

One of the first tee box complexes at Portstewart.

 

Once settled in, John O'Brien, our group leader, showed us around the entire course. I could see that the Course Team of Portstewart had already completed so much hard work. Everything was ready for the pros to play. Many people don't understand the many months, sometimes years, of preparation it takes to get a course ready for tournament play, way before the first ball is even hit in practice rounds. The Course Team works diligently to maintain, protect and develop the course which can include plastic mats for protection, roping off certain areas of the course, use of forward tees and, on occasion, topdressing of greens.

 

Sunrise at Portstewart.

 

When you work a major tournament like this, workdays for the Course Team typically begin about 4:30am and ends around 8pm. There is preparation before play in the morning and then after play later in the day; and every day has pretty much the same schedule. My main duty for the week was mowing the tees on the eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and fourteenth holes. Unlike many courses that use riding mowers to manicure their course, at Portstewart we used Baroness walk-behind mowers. To give you an idea of how big the course is, I walked 43 miles in three days mowing these five tees!

 

This was my mower for the week, labeled PM (for Pedestrian Mower) #29.

 

Overall the days were long but my stamina came from so many sources of gratitude:

  1. that TurfNet provided me this opportunity of internship in Ireland;
  2. that Portstewart offered me a position for the week to work the DDF Irish Open and I worked side-by-side with an amazing leader John OBrien and Course Team;
  3. that I had the chance to help maintain one of the most beautiful courses in the country; and
  4. that my time at Hazeltine National Golf Club working the 2016 Ryder Cup through the guidance of Chris Tritabaugh provided me the experience and expectations to work a tournament of this magnitude.

By the end of my adventure at Portstewart Golf Club, I was able to say that I had valuable experiences that I will be able to apply to my future career in this field. I am thankful that they regarded me as one of their teammates. 

 

Early morning view of one of the tee boxes I mowed each day at Portstewart.

 

The 18th green complex at Portstewart.




People and Places: Different yet Alike

Posted in Reflections 14 July 2017 · 1,642 views

When I accepted my international internship, my primary focus was to build strong, professional relationships with managers and colleagues within the golf industry during my short time in Ireland. What I didn't realize was the amazing people that I would encounter, professionally and casually, that have not only been incredibly friendly but have gone out of their way to help me.

 

Being in a new place, especially a foreign country, can be a difficult transition but I've always been very interested in different cultures and learning of the people and their everyday life... both at work and at home. My time so far in Ireland and working my first international tournament, the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open held at Portstewart Golf Club in Northern Ireland, has provided me many opportunities.

 

Since I have been here, I have worked with Dave Edmondson, head greenkeeper at The Island Golf Club in Donabate. Through his guidance and patience, he was the first to show me how to maintain a links course.  He has encouraged me to question him; as well as to offer some of my ideas which I gained when working at Hazeltine National Golf Club. I appreciate all of his teachings and, also, understanding the importance of working an international tournament and allowing me the time away from The Island. In fact I was one of two Island Club staffers working at the tournament; Kevin Cavanan is the other.

 

My Island Club compatriot, Kevin Canavan (left) with Billy Johnson of the Portstewart Golf Club staff.

 

One of the greatest joys about working abroad is that it makes you comfortable talking with strangers. It can be a little intimidating because you never know if they will understand the way you talk or how you do things. Two people that I had the pleasure of meeting over here were actually Americans: David Escobedo, head golf course superintendent at Westbrook Village Golf Club in Arizona and Dana Chase, long time equipment manager at Glen Ellen Country Club in Massachusetts. Along with Jon Kiger they became my bunkmates for a week and it was a blast. Between them the knowledge and experience in the turf industry is remarkable and I am very glad that I was able to pick their brains and get to know them. It was great to find like-minded travelers who are just as gung-ho on the tournament as I was. 

 

One of the greatest joys about working abroad is that it makes you comfortable talking with strangers...

 

Despite the long hours and catching up on our sleep we had a chance to have a few excursions away from the course during the week, such as a visit to Royal Portrush Golf Club to see their preparations for hosting The Open Championship in 2019.

 

I'm all ears as Graeme Beatt of Royal Portrush Golf Club chats with David Escobedo. Royal Portrush will host The Open in 2019.

 

Going from one links course to another within the same country (actually, on the same island but two different countries... since The Island is in Ireland and Portstewart is in Northern Ireland) is fascinating. Immediately I noticed the differences such as wild lands and native grasses. Also, the use of sand was different as well. The Island is built mostly on natural sand dunes left as they were while Portstewart has many man-made mounds and undulations. Depending on the location within Ireland, links courses can vary greatly.

 

The terrain at the Island Golf Club (above) is mostly natural, while Portstewart Golf Club (below) incorporates man-made mounding... both to great effect.

 

To understand all the natural elements of a course and use them to their full advantage in challenging golfers is the true testament of a head greenkeeper, and Bernard Findlay at Portstewart Golf Club did not disappoint. Through his direction, he guided the Course Team consisting of 60 others and myself with a schedule and expectations that delivered the golf course in its finest form for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. I appreciate that Bernard and the crew were accepting of my work and offered guidance to me when it was needed. I was anxious to learn about the terrain of this course and how it is maintained.

 

As my week progressed at the tournament, Portstewart provided all workers hospitality (food and beverages) and gave the Portstewart crew free tickets to attend to tournament when we weren't working. I have realized that one thing is certain whether I was in the States for the Ryder Cup or in Ireland for the Irish Open, that the great sport of golf brings people from all over the world together and that you can always depend on the kindness of strangers.

 

Me with David and Dana on a rare night out in Portstewart.

  

Working in Ireland has taught me to be more social, adapt quickly to new situations, and to better understand verbal and nonverbal communications. I am more independent, more open, and overall, just a better person. This will help me as I further my career within this industry as I work/volunteer at future tournaments. No matter what, I know that I am very fortunate to have these experiences and grateful to the many teachers along the way. 

 

Jon Kiger introduced me to Eddie Donlon, who retired in 2015 after 42 years as head greenkeeper at Rush Golf Club near Dublin. Eddie is a fixture on all TurfNet visits to Ireland, as is Gibney's Pub in Malahide where we were able to enjoy a Guinness or two and talk turf.




Captain's Day and STRI visit...

Posted in On the course 15 June 2017 · 654 views

The next few weeks at the Island Golf Club are going to be very busy. Starting with this weekend we have the Captains day and then the weekend after that we have the Open qualifier. Captains day is a member tournament put on by the course and the elected captain of the course. Its a one-day tournament coming up this weekend. It is normally teams of four that are competing for the best score to win great prizes. Its also a great time for members to talk more with one another and a good time for the captain to play the course.  So the next few weeks are pretty busy around the course.

 

The golf course is looking fantastic with all the little spots of rain we have been having the course is in tiptop shape. Course Manager Dave Edmondson has only put out about 16 kg/35 pounds of actual nitrogen on 1.1 hectares/2.7 acres of greens thus far in 2017. Height of cut on our greens is 5mm and they are going to stay at that height for a while.

 

 

A couple weeks ago we had STRI (Sportsturf Research Institute) visit the course. The STRI is the worlds leading authority on the design, construction and maintenance of golf greens and courses. Their head office is based in West Yorkshire UK. They offer a variety of services not only to golf but also to other sports turf industries. To golf courses though they offer assessments and recommendations to help improve  any problem areas on your greens or course and provide a quick and efficient solution to that problem. They also provide pest, weed, and disease ID and mapping along with many other services.

 

 

While they were at the Island they were testing the trueness of the greens to see how they would play for the upcoming tournaments. They were using a machine called the STRI Trueness meter. All though I do not know the numbers on the trueness (and doubt they would like me to share them), I know they have been testing the greens for the past three years now at the Island and the greens seem to be improving.  

 




The Island Golf Club: a brief history

Posted in History 09 June 2017 · 1,145 views

The Island Golf Club was founded in 1890, making it one of the oldest golf courses in Ireland. Besides being one of the first twelve golf clubs founded in Ireland, it is the third oldest in the Dublin area. The Syndicate was the name of the group of ten founding fathers of the club. According to the club website, "In September of 1887 four men rowed across the channel which separates the North Dublin village of Malahide from the spur of land to the north known locally as the Island. Their mission was to survey the wilderness and assess its suitably as a golf links."

 

Looking across the estuary to the village of Malahide.

 

The club is unique because back in that time the club had no military connection (most established clubs did) and was initiated as a private proprietary club.

 

The original clubhouse, a quaint wooden pavilion, was situated at the far end of the links and overlooked the Malahide estuary. It was abandoned when the boat service to and from the links was discontinued in 1973 but some of the foundation can still be seen in the area. The present clubhouse is located more centrally on the property and dates from that time.

 

Golfers either took the Boat or traveled the long way home.

 

When golfers were taken over to the Island by boat from Malahide they were completely dependent on that boat to get them back. Many stories have been told that a normal golfing day would go from good to bad with the change of the weather. Usually the weather would turn bad while the golfers were out and the boat would not be able to return to the Island to pick them up. So for some, the only way to return home would be to travel the long way around through Swords, which back in the early twentieth century, was a long journey.

 

I am honored to work at such an historic course. 

 

A plaque at the club memorializes the days of "the Boat".

 




Links turf management, and a project of my own...

Posted in On the course 01 June 2017 · 677 views

Now that I've had a few weeks to settle in a bit and share my experiences about Ireland, it's time to focus on the golf course. During my short time working at The Island Golf Club near Dublin, I have learned new practices for maintaining a links golf course.

 

The mission of turf management is a careful balance of providing players the best and most beautiful golf course to play while understanding the environment, terrain and monetary budget set forth by the golf club. For the most part, all the greens that I have encountered on the Island are fescue/bent entwined with a little bit of meadow grass (Poa annua). A sprinkling of ryegrass also occurs in some areas but mostly in the rough. The fairways, tees and approaches are all fescue/bent but they are going to try and spray out the bent in the future. 

 

My experience so far has been great and I look forward to learning more about maintaining a spectacular links golf course.

 

Because a links course is by its very nature rugged, maintaining it is fairly straightforward. A little mowing, fertilizer and water go a long way on a links course. This allows the crew time to pursue other projects and improvements around the course. Fescue and bent grasses are perfect for this area because of their lower water and fertility requirements than other turfgrasses. They also have higher wear tolerance and are more feasible in price.  For these reasons, these grasses are ideal for this terrain but, when mixed, the attributes of each are compromised which is why we are going to remove the bent grass.

 

Earlier this week I was given a solo project on the course. The cart path on the 3rd tee box had become worn and patchy. My task was to remove a good portion of the cart path with a sod cutter and change the turn from natural to "artificial", the kind that ryegrass is sown over and grows up through. I was especially grateful to Kevin who taught me some time saving techniques for dealing with the artificial turf. The bottom portion of the 'after' picture shows a future project that will be down the road.

 

Before: sod cut to make way for the artificial surface.

 

Freshly installed artificial surface ready for the ryegrass to establish. 

 

After: The ryegrass is getting established through the new artificial surface at the top of the photo. The area in the bottom/foreground will be similarly converted as part of a future project. 

 

As you can see, I've already learned a lot about maintaining a links golf course. I look forward to the rest of the summer when I will help maintain this well-manicured, rugged and beautiful course for the members of and visitors to The Island Golf Club.




Road trips!

Posted in Excursions 26 May 2017 · 1,047 views

After settling in these first few weeks it was time to explore Dublin and the surrounding area. First stop was the village of Malahide, which is just across a narrow estuary and very visible from the Island Golf Club. I walked around there all day, visiting the cricket pitches and Malahide Castle. Malahide Castle was built in the 12th century by the Talbots, an English family who had arrived in England during the Norman invasion with William the Conqueror.

 

Malahide Castle

 

Mowing the cricket pitches in Malahide.

 

Malahide is also home to Gibney's Pub, a favorite watering hole of TurfNet members during several of the TurfNet trips to Ireland. Jon Kiger and I enjoyed a Guinness or two there on my first day here in Ireland.

 

I also visited the town of Swords, just west of Malahide in County Fingal, which dates to the 6th century. Swords Castle was built in the 1200's (there are a lot of castles in Ireland). I spent all day there just exploring and seeing what the town had to offer.

 

Last on my touring over the past several weeks was the village of Howth, located on the peninsula of Howth Head which separates Dublin Bay from the Irish Sea. Howth has to be one of the most beautiful places I have seen in Ireland so far. Howth Castle is a private home rather than a museum or a hotel, and has been in the same family for over 800 years. Howth has two golf courses and amazing trips out to the Irelands Eye island. There is also a mountain you can climb for some amazing views of the surrounding area.

 

Ireland's Eye (above and below)

 

It was kind of a gloomy day when I went there but it was still unbelievable. Howth is clearly my favorite place to have visited so far, but I have been told there are places in Ireland that beat it.  

 

 

I also was able to make it to Dublin City over the past three weeks and one of the most memorable adventures down there was to see singer Sean Keane. Sean is an Irish born singer from Galway; he sings traditional Irish, folk, and country songs. The London Independent calls him the greatest musical find of the 90s. It was amazing to see him sing and play all of his traditional Irish instruments and to hear his unique voice. He plays every Tuesday night at the Hampton Hotel in Dublin. 

 

The Sean Keane band (above) and me with Sean (below).

 








Greenkeeping, the Next Generation is presented by Jacobsen.

Marty's internship in Ireland is partially underwritten by a grant from the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association.

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