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Two counties, two courses – one seed

Two counties, two courses – one seed: Jason Connaughton, Course Manager at Yeovil Golf Club, says that he could not ask for anything more when it comes to the grass seed, customer service, and advice he receives from Limagrain UK.

Set on the outskirts of the town of Yeovil, this fabulous golf club boasts two excellent courses: the eighteen-hole Old Course and the nine-hole Newton Course. The two courses are divided by the River Yeo, which uniquely separates the two courses into two counties with the Old Course located in Dorset and the Newton Course in Somerset.

Two counties, two courses – one seed

Two counties, two courses – one seed

The experienced Jason Connaughton, who has worked at some top courses in the UK, Ireland, and Australia, is the man responsible for the upkeep of both courses. Now in his fourth year at Yeovil, his work across the 189 acres and 27 holes has been widely recognised, but he admits that due to the club’s location, it is not always plain sailing.

“The Newton Course is built on a flood plain which can cause issues,” he said. “The sixteenth green and seventeenth tee are at that same level, so they flood fairly often. When this occurs, there is a temporary green we use but this also tends to get very wet.

“On this small green we were commonly finding issues with moss and other problems – we also needed a grass seed which would be better for wear tolerance. I was not about to use a bent or a fescue because in the past I have found these too hard to establish on this site.

“Therefore, I spoke to both David Bevan from Agrovista Amenity and Matt Gresty from Limagrain UK – and they both suggested I try MM50.”

Limagrain’s leading MM50 mixture is a 100% ryegrass formula which is perfect for achieving consistency throughout a course. This hard-wearing mix has rapid germination, very fine leaved appearance, high shoot density and is tolerant to very close mowing, along with high disease resistance. All these attributes together produce a fantastic sward that has great colour all year round.

“We put MM50 down and it established so quickly – it was incredible,” said Jason. “There is more work to be done on the temporary green, but we’ve got the right seed now and the coverage is so much better – there is a huge improvement.”

After being impressed with the results he achieved on the temporary green with MM50, it led Jason to evaluate other areas of the course.

“After seeing how good MM50 was, it made me realise that we were not getting much out of the other brand of seed we were using,” continued Jason. “I soon made the decision to exclusively use MM50 for divotting and overseeding on the tees, fairways and aprons – and the results have been fantastic.

“It is such a lovely fine rye – the wear tolerance is fantastic, and the establishment is perfect. It ticks all the boxes for me, and the members have noticed the difference.”

Two counties, two courses – one seed

Two counties, two courses – one seed

In further pleasing the members, Jason revealed that he uses a range of Limagrain UK’s Colour Splash mixtures. The range has a floral arrangement for every requirement – whether it be a golf course, a local authority green space or any other establishment that has an area which needs brightening up.

“We have them spread out in visual areas across the course and the members and visitors absolutely love them,” said Jason. “Not only are they aesthetically pleasing but they are great for the environment and it’s lovely to see so many bees around the place. They are cost effective too – especially when you consider the impact that they have.”

Jason concluded by praising the support he receives from Limagrain UK.

“With Limagrain, it shows that you don’t have to be a big high-end golf course to receive the best support. They listen intently to what we want to achieve, and it means a lot to me when someone invests their time in talking to me and helping. I want to work with people who have our best intentions at heart, and I get exactly this with Limagrain UK.

“I couldn’t ask for more.”

For further information, please contact Limagrain UK on 01472 371471 or visit the company’s website www.lgseeds.co.uk/amenity – you can also follow the company on Twitter: @MM_Seed and Instagram @mm_seeds

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Sheep taking over golf courses

Sheep taking over golf courses: At least two closed and empty English golf clubs have been taken over by sheep during the coronavirus lockdown – where the ruminants have been taking on the grass cutting duties normally reserved for the currently furloughed greenkeepers.

Several UK golf courses are located near to farmland but animals are typically deterred from venturing towards the courses due to the presence of golfers and greenkeepers. Plus, their source of food, which is now growing more quickly than it has been in recent months, is usually mown away just as rapidly.

Sheep taking over golf courses

Sheep taking over golf courses

But with no golfers bar one or two breaking the rules, and with most golf clubs furloughing all but one greenkeeper, golf courses are proving to be rich pickings for hungry sheep.

Avington Park Golf Course and Bramshaw Golf Club, both in southern England, have showcased the hard-working animals on social media.

According to entertainment website TMZ, there have been about 100 sheep roaming and grazing on Avington Park’s 32-acre golf course.

Bramshaw Golf Club also saw the funny side of the invasion – and also outlined the benefits to the course.

The club wrote on Twitter: ‘Been out there for a couple of days. Not doing any harm at the moment.. free labour!’

While sheep on golf courses due to a lack of golfers because of a pandemic may be something new, many golf courses around the world do use herbivores to help out with the maintenance of their facilities.

Machrihanish Dunes in Scotland has used sheep to control the rough in the past.

A spokesman told The Golf Business in 2014: “Here at Machrihanish Dunes we are very proud of our eco friendly status.

“By using the natural lawnmowers to thin out the rough on the course we are able to help preserve several rare and protected species of orchids that grow here on this site and in few other places. The added benefit is visitors can enjoy the company of these unique companions as they play a round. These woolly wonders will have people flocking to see them in action.”

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NZ courses braced for no upkeep

NZ courses braced for no upkeep: Normally at the weekend, stadiums around New Zealand are full of kiwis watching rugby and cricket or for the thousands of weekend hackers, it’s time for a round of golf with their mates.

But with the country in lockdown, those stadiums and golf courses aren’t just bare of people they’re without care and maintenance, and the cost economically and socially hurts.

NZ courses braced for no upkeep

NZ courses braced for no upkeep

Hundreds of clubs around the country were forced to close with upkeep not permitted.

“Greens are our babies,” New Zealand Greenkeepers president Steve Hodson told Newshub.

“If we lose our greens, we lose our golf course and we’ve lost our revenue, then we’ve lost jobs.”

He is among thousands of volunteers and is devastated.

“[It’s] a massive social cost as well, as financial cost to the clubs,” he told Newshub.

NZ golf has been lobbying to get a dispensation to allow a skeletal staff to cut the greens, until a decision is made.

“The grass keeps on growing,” Hodson added.

But while the lockdown effects may be permanently crippling for many small golf courses, the grounds in our big stadiums are in better shape

Turf manager Karl Johnson says FMG Waikato Stadium has sprayed a product to slow growth.

“Hopefully it will hold on for 4 weeks,” Johnson told Newshub.

“Our irrigation systems are managed by mobile devices so we are able to irrigate from home”

Instead, Johnson will spend the month preening his own lawn and is hopeful the grass will be greener for all when this finally ends.

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Two Ryder Cup Courses For EcoBunker

Two Ryder Cup Courses For EcoBunker: Working on a course for a Ryder Cup is a great achievement for any golf construction professional. To work on two in the space of a week, though, is pretty remarkable. But that’s what EcoBunker site manager Louis Palser will have done by the end of next week.

Louis has spent the last two days at Le Golf National in Paris, supervising EcoBunker’s part of the construction of the 2018 Ryder Cup venue’s new state of the art practice facility, which is being managed by golf consultant Alejandro Reyes (the former superintendent of Le Golf National). Flying directly from Paris to Rome, Louis moves on to the Marco Simone club, currently under reconstruction at the hands of European Golf Design architect Dave Sampson, in advance of its starring role in the 2022 Ryder Cup. There, for ten days, he will be working alongside EcoBunker’s top construction specialist Llewellyn Matthews installing EcoBunker’s AquaEdge lake edging product on the sixteenth and eighteenth holes.

Two Ryder Cup Courses For EcoBunker

Quite some going for a young man who is new to the golf business. Louis joined EcoBunker last year after studying civil engineering at Salford University, because ‘he wanted to use his construction knowledge, work outdoors and gain plenty of travel opportunities’, and spent 18 weeks last year on the company’s job at the new Dumbarnie Links in Fife, where he rose to be deputy site manager under Llewelyn Matthews. Now, he’s comfortable leading jobs, and has worked on EcoBunker projects in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and France.

EcoBunker CEO Richard Allen says: “With our contracting business growing rapidly we’ve had to invest in new construction management talent, and Louis has rapidly become an important part of our growth.”

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Gleneagles’s New Golf Courses Manager

Gleneagles’s New Golf Courses Manager: Gleneagles, the iconic Scottish hotel and sporting estate, has announced the appointment of Craig Haldane as its new Golf Courses Manager.

South African Craig, a well-known figure in the global golf industry, joins Gleneagles from Emirates Golf Club, Dubai, where he held the position of Director – Golf Course Maintenance, and had led golf course operations at the iconic Middle East venue for the past 11 years.

Gleneagles's New Golf Courses Manager

Previous to this, Haldane’s international experience included senior roles at Nad Al Sheba Golf Club, Dubai; Riffa Golf Club, Bahrain; Ria Bintan Golf Club, Indonesia; and Fancourt Hotel, South Africa.

Haldane arrives at Gleneagles as it prepares for the staging of two significant tournaments over the next 18 months – the inaugural European Golf Team Championships on The PGA Centenary Course this August and The Solheim Cup 12 months later – as well as the centenary of The King’s Course next year.

The James Braid-designed King’s Course will also welcome the 100th playing of the Scottish Stroke Play Championship this year, while The Queen’s Course will see the second PING Scottish Mixed Championship.

Commenting on this important announcement, Gary Silcock, Director of Golf at Gleneagles, said: “I’m incredibly excited by Craig’s appointment and his global experience and expertise will be a huge asset as we continue to invest in our golf business and customer experience.

“His industry knowledge and tournament preparation skills – The Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club stages the European Tour sanctioned Omega Dubai Desert Classic each year – will be invaluable. Bringing together Craig’s experience with Scott Fenwick, our Director of Agronomy & Estates, who has 38 years of tournament expertise here at Gleneagles, is helping us create one of the strongest tournament teams in golf.

“We are now blending a growing international team with home-grown talent and Craig’s appointment will allow us to further develop our succession planning goals within our Greens Team Apprentice programme, which started two years ago.”

Haldane’s appointment at ‘The Glen’ coincides with the 850-acre Perthshire estate winning a host of industry accolades, including being named the ‘No.1 Golf Resort in Britain & Ireland’ by Golf World Magazine, and the ‘Ultimate Golf Resort’ at the recent 59club Awards.

Craig Haldane, said: “Gleneagles is one of the world’s great golf estates and the opportunity to work with Gary and the team to deliver the next chapter in its illustrious golfing history is something I am hugely looking forward to.

“The King’s, The Queen’s and The PGA Centenary Course are already recognised the world-over as exceptional golf experiences and I am confident that in my new role, and with the support of the incredible golf team at Gleneagles, we will be able to take the management, conditioning and preparation of all courses to the next level.”

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