The new General Manager of Henley Golf Club was faced with the task of bringing in new ideas and effective maintenance-based initiatives to develop an established and traditional golf course that was founded in 1907. So, what has he done and did it work?
One of the first things Marcus Lovelock, the new General Manager of Henley Golf Club, did was to ask me (an Independent Turfgrass Agronomist) if I would do an appraisal of the condition of the golf course greens, and maintenance strategy.
The Head Greenkeeper, Justin Robinson, had received on and off external support in recent years with regards to the greens, and was therefore very open to the idea of having another external party review his work and the course’s current standards.
I found Justin to be very tolerable to the idea of working together with an independent professional turfgrass agronomist, rather than a non-independent advisor or greenkeeper consultant. Like all good greenkeepers, the opportunity to learn and develop was always at the front of his mind.
In our first year of working together we have developed the decision-making process at Henley Golf Club into a more open and professional approach than in previous years. We now discuss all aspects together before making decisions and do further research and more detailed analysis when required. A strategy for the future is slowly starting to form, and this is aimed at not only encouraging the finer grasses to grow but also changing the on-site growing conditions, both above and below the surface.
For example, 2 capillary drainage systems were installed into 2 greens in 2017 with very positive effects, and so this drainage strategy will likely (after review) be extended out into all the other greens to enhance their construction characteristics.
Marcus (GM) noticed that in our first year of working together his greenkeeping team came in £22,000 under budget. He also said that he’d even had “some life-long Club members telling him that they could not remember when the course had ever looked so good”.
Justin (HGK) couldn’t believe that he had just gone through the whole of 2017 without spraying a single pesticide application to the greens, in comparison to the year before when 6 pesticide applications were relied on to treat disease issues.
Saving Money Whilst Improving The Quality…
“One is always a long way from solving a problem until one actually has the answer.” – Stephen Hawking
We will continue to monitor the golf course greens condition together and gradually achieve even higher standards by understanding more about the site and reacting appropriately, and not by doing works because ‘it was always done like that.’ Perhaps most importantly we will work closely together as a
A review of the new teams maintenance strategy and successes so far will be presented to the members in the summer and we will then discuss first-hand with the members what they would like to see happen to their golf course in the future.