The Groundsman

April 2016

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Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions AHEAD OF THE GAME 25 the Groundsman April 2016 you are. Surprisingly we manage the golf courses here closer to the typical UK golf courses than you would read in text books. This is mainly due to the higher temperatures we have in the summer months. Growth and cultural practices are kept to a minimum in July and August when not only high temperatures and humidity prevail but there are also dust storms leading to poor light, none of which produce ideal conditions and if mismanaged can favour turf loss. Our ongoing operational challenge is the use of recycled effluent as irrigation water. It contains relatively high levels of sodium along with carbonates and bicarbonates and needs to be managed on a continuous basis. Regular applications of gypsum timed with aeration and deep irrigation cycles help to move the sodium deeper into the rootzone away from the roots and helps free space for beneficial nutrients to promote a healthy root system and plant. What type of equipment do you use? We have the ability to fully prepare the golf course each morning before play by mowing all short cut surfaces and raking all the bunkers, using equipment that is typical at any 36-hole course in the UK. The greens, tees, fairways and approaches/ collars are mown each day, and we intermediate mow the rough and set up the course for play – mowing holes and setting tee markers. Along with this we manage all our cultural practices in-house so have all our own aeration and topdressing equipment plus sweepers/blowers, etc, which means we don't have any outside influences which can impact on costs. Due to the pure sand fairways and grass types, we can really lower our cutting heights depending on the time of year. During the summer we usually raise everything 1 or 2mm from the winter heights to relieve stress and prevent scalping. For greens we focus more on grass health than speed outside of the DP World Tour Championship, otherwise would consider the following for regular heights of cut: • Greens 2.7-3.1mm • Tees 4.5-6.5mm • Collars/approaches 6.5-9.5mm • Fairways 9.5-11.5mm • Intermediate rough 20mm • Semi rough 32mm. We also have a fantastic workshop and team of mechanics to maintain the equipment so that downtime is limited. Not having an off season, plus the corrosive nature of the climate, causes a lot of wear on the machines so investing in our workshop has been a key factor in delivering a first-class experience for golfers. As the UAE is founded on a strong trading ethos and the golf industry is relatively well established, we are fortunate enough to have all of our necessary resources readily available. Supply chains may require a little more management than they would in the UK but generally all products are covered and we can benefit from drawing on a global pool of products from Europe, Asia and the US. As is the case in many countries, the UAE is also following strict guidelines on pesticides and so this is one area in which we are having to adapt to succeed. In terms of the programming championships, how much say do you have? In general, there are very few programming issues for the DP World Tour Championship. All stakeholders are very supportive; from the membership of the club, the company executives and of course the European Tour. For the most part, I work closely with Graeme MacNiven, deputy director of tour agronomy. As an example, we started thinking about the 2016 event while focusing on the 2015 event, looking to improve and refine how we approach the event then present the course during the tournament days. All these points are discussed over the winter period which culminates in a summer plan. His attention to detail is second to none and after seven events together, there is little between us that is left unnoticed. How are your staff? Do language barriers impact on simple tasks? Naturally there are language and cultural differences but this is what makes working here so rewarding. There is a real buzz leading up to and during the DP World Tour Championship and it's great that the team see the course on TV and has the opportunity to go inside the ropes during the prize presentation. I am extremely proud of the agronomy team at Jumeirah Golf Estates - they are fantastic and some of the best greenkeepers I have ever worked with. How/what training do the team have? Can your staff become qualified? Unfortunately there is no education authority in the UAE specialising in turf grass maintenance or amenity horticulture and a lot of emphasis lies with the individual golf courses to maintain training standards. We have had to simplify our standard operating procedures to make them more user friendly, and more classroom-based training is a goal for 2016. GTC-type training schemes are certainly an area that could be explored to really take the industry to the next level. Dan Prest is education manager at the IOG l A section of the course at the Jumeirah Golf Estates

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