Millbrook Resort is laid out just down the road from The Hills and co-hosted the BMW NZ Open. Today I got a tour of the course from Superintendent James O'Malley. After working in the pro shop he eventually moved to the golf maintenance where he did his apprenticeship. Now he is the Superintendent of 27 holes and 500 acres of property. Millbrook is a large resort club catering to all types of people. To keep the properties and buildings in good condition there are hundreds of employees. Lunches, catered by the club, can be interesting as people of different jobs sit together. Not like some places where you sit with your immediate co-workers.
Taking care of 27 holes is a lot of work so there are 18 employees in summer and 11 in winter. This is less than the Hills, but less personal are needed since greens and tees are triplexed. The grass is Browntop Bentgrass (Colonial Bent) and cut about the same as the Hills; greens in the 3mm, tees/collars 8mm, and fairways around 10.5mm.
Housing Construction Next to Fairway
The course started 25 years ago as an 18 hole course on the site of an old wheat farm. About 7 years ago a new 9 holes were created making the course into three 9 hole courses. Play can route any of the 9 holes. In the winter 9 holes are shut down, usually the ones that receive very little light or no light. A new 9 is in being talked about to make 36 holes. For the NZ Open the last 2 years with Millbrook being a co-host two of the 9 hole courses have been used, but changed which ones each year.
Grass Tennis Courts
O'Malley said he has seen differences in the old 18 holes and newer 9. The newer 9 needs more fertilizer than the old 18. The old 18 has more thatch and greens were redone a few years ago to remove thatch very quickly. He has been putting lots of work into the greens using Maredo triplex aeration heads. By using this system 18 holes can be aerated with pencil tines in under a day and a half.
Irrigation Pond and Aeration of NZ Open Traffic Spots
Old Woolshed Now Driving Range
Then I went to Jack's Point meeting with Assistant Ben Taylor. Briefly I was introduced to Superintendent Simon Forshaw, who has been at the course since the start 10 years ago. Ben interned at Augusta through The Ohio Program 10 years ago. TOP is truly a global program. Ben had nothing but positive thoughts on the program.
Natural Looking Bunkers
Jack's Point is a spectacular course. Surrounded by The Remarkables Mountains to the east and Lake Wakatipu on the west the views are one of a kind. Being so close to these features means lots of wind so the course can play like a links course. Fescue fairways, browntop greens and tees, natural looking bunkers and little rough gives off minimalistic vibe. Even signs are made out of old wood. I loved the look of Jack's Point. This is a gem of the South Island. To maintain the course 19 staff are used in the winter, with most internationals, and 9 in winter. Last year a new hole was constructed as the 19th to be used if any work needed to be done to a hole. Jack's Point is a spectacular course to visit or play.
The 19th Hole