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.
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.