The course has been tightening up over the last few weeks in anticipation of the Captains' Prizes event, which is very much like a club championship but carries the weight of a member-guest event regarding perfect maintenance.
Over 200 golfers compete for the Captain's and Lady Captain's prizes on a Friday afternoon and Saturday in late June. The event concludes Saturday evening with the awarding of the Prizes at a festive banquet which usually continues into the early hours with dancing and the odd verse of song from the revellers. No competitions are scheduled for Sunday as Saturday is usually a late night.
The maintenance schedule on the golf course is fairly similar to the usual routine, but the timing for every procedure fits perfectly into place so the course 'pops' by the time the all-important tournament rolls around.
One such procedure is fertilizer application. These are on a regular schedule here at Mount Juliet, but small tweaks are made to the regular mix in order to adapt for weather, turf needs or aesthetic demands.
The pre-event application to fairways was fairly standard, made by a broadcast spreader on the back of the tractor. The greens, however, required a bit more finesse to properly feed.
Two crews of two are typically sent out to leap-frog their way around the eighteen holes. One man operates the spray gun, while the other is on the hose. The gun operator must be well trained to spray on an even coat of the mix that is agitating in the tank. The mix itself consisted of 14 kg of Plant Marvel (28-8-18), ten liters of MegAlex (3-0-0), seventeen liters of six percent Iron, and a little dye.
The operator of the spray gun walks back and forth making the application while the other crew member is there to keep the hose off the newly fertilized turf and out of the walk path of the person spraying.
A crew member making the application.
Just as with topdressing by hand, we spray the greens by hand because it requires less fuel and reduces traffic on the greens compared other application techniques.
The turf obviously had a change in color due to the dye, but the greens perked up in growth and natural color in a few days and lasted well past the Captains Prize event. One American visitor remarked that the famous green color in Ireland had to come from something like this!
In truth, the dye may have seemed like cheating, but the real color and health of the turf came because of a well designed and well timed fertilizing schedule that fit the needs of both the turf and the players on the course.
The size of spray hose used.
A mat is placed under the stationary spray vehicle to protect the turf from engine heat.