With two Major golf tournaments played on links courses last year – and one about to be played this year – there is growing interest among course managers in using native grasses found in the UK.
Today (Monday, 8 Feb) I will be among a number of course superintendents from around the world addressing delegates at the 2016 Golf Industry Show in San Diego on managing courses in cooler climates.
We will be highlighting the use of fescue grasses on golf courses in both America and Europe and how, if managed properly, they produce good playability all across the course.
Fescue is slower-growing, requires less water and fertilizer and is less prone to disease so is popular in course management terms. It means we can avoid using pesticides and fungicides but still maintain a healthy grass system
Fescue also makes courses play more like a British links; it provides a faster, truer roll and does not ‘grab’ the golf ball like other types of grass.
At Castle Stuart we put an emphasis on making the course both challenging and fun, providing a true links experience at the top level for some of the world’s best professionals for tournaments such as the Scottish Open but also for our local players.
However, we are acutely aware of our spectacular and sensitive environment and the need to protect it as the course continues to evolve.
Our research on native grasses and the climate had led to us building up a huge bank of information on the behaviour of fescue in certain conditions and we are constantly sharing this information – and learning from other courses – to improve our knowledge on the way it acts in certain conditions and in different countries.
We also regularly exchange ground staff personnel with courses in Europe and as far away as Australia, to maintain a constant, two-way flow of ideas. Last year we have had visitors from Canada, Australia and Switzerland and previously we have welcomed trainees from many countries, including China, Malaysia and New Zealand.
During the 2015 US Open, I acted as an adviser to the Chambers Bay groundstaff due to my specialist experience in fine fescue management and offered tips on maintaining a healthy plant in stress and wear conditions during the tournament.
Fescue will be seen increasingly at major tournaments around the world and the expertise at Castle Stuart will play a leading role in its development