Odense Golf Club – 30,000 rounds in 7 months demands top greenkeeping skills

Crest 294Odense Golf Club was founded at a meeting held on September 29, 1927, and the first course was built at Kløvermosevej, a suburb in the southwest of the city. It consisted of 9 holes with a length of 2,815 yards and was completed in 1928. It was constructed on land previously used by the Danish army for training horses.

Following the expiry of its lease in 1962, the club moved to the area of Snapindskoven where a new 9 hole course was constructed.

foto 2However, conditions were cramped and in 1980 the decision was taken to build a new complex with an 18-hole course of international standard (Holluf Park) and a 9-hole course (Pile) at Neder Holluf, south of the city centre. The purchase of this site, just 5 kilometres from the original 1928 course, was a joint venture between the local community and the golf club.

Hans-Henrik Burkal 315Hans Henrik Burkal, the Club Manager, is an interesting character; he was a Prison Officer for five years and for 18 years was General Secretary of the Danish Swimming and Lifesaving Association. He was a member of the Danish delegation at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney and also officiated at the 1991 and 1999 World Swimming Championships in Perth and again in Hong Kong in 1996. He joined Odense in 2009, following seven years in a similar position at a club in Zeeland.

He is responsible for 13 staff including seven greenkeepers, a housekeeper, a gardener and two Golf Professionals, which is unusual as Pros are not normally employees.

“We have a very loyal membership of almost 1,300, of which 50 are juniors and 60% who are over 50,” he said. “Rightly so, they are very demanding and we have to present the courses to the highest standards at all times. I have an excellent greenkeeping team, led by Jack Rasmussen, our Course Manager and we have a superb relationship with our machinery dealer, Svenningsens, which is an important factor when we have to maintaining the courses at such a high level.”

Course 157The 18-hole, par 72 Holluf Park parkland course is slightly undulating and features push-up greens, three large lakes and 90 bunkers. It is bordered by a local stream, so water comes into play on a majority of holes. For experienced players it is a real challenge and has hosted many Danish championships. Flooding can be an issue and the course is closed from the beginning of December through to April.

As you would expect the 9-hole, par 31 Pile course has significantly shorter holes than Holluf Park, but is nevertheless a real golf course. It is the ideal place for high handicap golfers and beginners or for those who seek a leisurely round of golf. It is maintained to the same exacting standards as the Holluf Park course.

Jack Rasmussen 309Course Manager Jack Rasmussen completed his education as a Landscape Gardener in 1994 and was the first Dane to specialise in turfgrass management. He joined Odense Golf Club in 2003 and in 2008 succeeded his father when he was appointed to his current role. He leads a team of seven greenkeeping staff including a dedicated mechanic.

“As Hans Henrik said earlier, we have very demanding members and we have to concentrate on presenting the courses to its maximum, at all times. With just seven of us on the greenkeeping team, that’s a big task so we have to have equipment that we can depend and rely on.

“That’s why we have chosen Jacobsen and their local distributor Svenningsens as our preferred supplier of our mowers and other course maintenance equipment through to 2020.

“In 2013 we purchased our first Eclipse 322 diesel-electric hybrid mower and it has been very successful. We can change the number of cuts per metre depending on the growing conditions and also have the option of increasing the frequency of cut for tournaments, if we want to increase green speed without lowering the height of cut.”

The maintenance regime follows a regular pattern with the greens being cut at 4 mm, six times per week and the holes moved five times; the approaches (8 mm), tees (14 mm) and fairways (14 mm) are mown three times a week. The semi-rough on greens surrounds is cut at 51 mm and the semi-rough on the remainder of the course is maintained at 100 mm.
Odense Fleet 297
Denmark has some of the most stringent laws in Europe concerning the use of chemicals on golf courses. For example, fungicides can only be applied three times a year and if you operate a 100 hectare area, it is only permissible to spray a total of 5 hectares. This makes it extremely difficult to manage a course, but it’s something that Danish greenkeepers take in their stride.

“Jacobsen has the best quality of cut by far,” says Jack Rasmussen, “and that helps us when it comes to combatting disease. Our Jacobsen R311 is a good, solid machine and our GP400 triplex which we use for tees and surrounds does a perfect job for us.”

37The grounds of the Syddansk Unversitet (University of Southern Denmark) borders the northern end of the golf course and the club offers a special student membership of Danish Krone 2100 (around UK £200 a year). This provides an excellent entry level for prospective members and many choose to stay on. The club attracted 257 new members in 2014, a remarkable statistic when golf was still suffering from a global depression.

Hans Henrik Burkal re-joined the conversation and provided some interesting statistics concerning the number of rounds played during 2014. The total was 29,594 played, of which 26,117 were by members and 3,477 by guests. That equated to an average of 22 rounds per member, with one member registering an incredible 190 rounds. The average handicap was 23.6, 29.5 for women and 21.0 for men.

Odense Team 306“When you consider that we are closed for five months of the year, nearly 30,000 rounds of golf puts a lot of pressure on Jack and his team,” he said. “With the support of trusted suppliers such as Svenningsens and reliable products from Jacobsen, we give them the tools to produce quality playing surfaces. I truly believe we have the best greenkeeping team in Denmark.”

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From the Ground Up

MLS Groundskeeper starts from scratch in Orlando

Orlando City Soccer Club At-A-Glance

Year Founded: 2010
Head Groundskeeper: Matt Bruderek
Turf: Tifway 419 Bermuda
Equipment: Jacobsen® LF550 large-area reel mower, Cushman Turf-Truckster utility vehicle, Cushman SprayTek DS-300 sprayer
Matt Bruderek, Head Groundskeeper for Orlando City Soccer Club.

Matt Bruderek, Head Groundskeeper for Orlando City Soccer Club.

For proof of soccer’s continued growth in the U.S., sport aficionados need to look no further than the success of Major League Soccer’s bright new expansion team, the Orlando City Soccer Club. The club is playing their inaugural year home games in the famed Citrus Bowl while a massive new stadium is completed in downtown Orlando.

The team and its lion-crested purple imagery, led by international superstar Kaká, has quickly become the hottest ticket in Central Florida. The team has already set U.S. soccer attendance records, with over 60,000 fans attending the first home match against fellow expansion team New York City FC. The game was televised in over 100 countries. The team currently ranks #2 in MLS attendance.

Team President Phil Rawlins founded the team in 2010 in Austin, Texas, where the fledgling team won a championship in the United Soccer League. A few years later, Rawlins partnered with Brazilian businessman Flavio Augusto da Silva, joined MLS and moved the team to Orlando Florida.

When the team arrived in Orlando, STMA member Matt Bruderek was working as a grounds crew assistant at the University of Central Florida, maintaining fields for the school’s baseball, football and soccer teams.

“When I first saw the job opening at Orlando City, I was reluctant to apply because I didn’t even think they would consider me,” said Bruderek.

But the young field manager got the nod and quickly found himself in Orlando, starting a turfgrass program from scratch.

“When I started in July of 2014, we had no equipment, facilities or fields,” recalls Bruderek. “It was perfect actually because I was able to sit down and plan everything that I wanted to do before practices and games started.”

By August, the team secured two practice fields and a building just outside of Orlando in Seminole County. Bruderek’s immediate responsibility was tending to the slate of events the facility had already scheduled.

Matt Bruderek maintains these two practice fields outside of Orlando in Seminole County. He will also be responsible for managing the field at the club’s new stadium in downtown Orlando, which is currently under construction. The top photo shows what Bruderek started with in August of 2014. The bottom photo was taken just seven months later in the spring of 2015.

Matt Bruderek maintains these two practice fields outside of Orlando in Seminole County. He will also be responsible for managing the field at the club’s new stadium in downtown Orlando, which is currently under construction. The top photo shows what Bruderek started with in August of 2014. The bottom photo was taken just seven months later in the spring of 2015.

“As I continued to plan for Orlando City during the fall, we had recreation league games out here, the Canadian men’s national team, and two days after Christmas we hosted a three-day soccer tournament that had 15 games on each field. After that, we had just one month until Orlando City’s first practice. During that first fall, I wasn’t able to do much but spray weeds, overseed and use a recycle dresser machine, which pulls up the sand to topdress the surface.”

Bruderek used just 200 lbs. per acre with the ryegrass, half of what a field manager would normally use.

“At the time, the Bermuda was just not healthy enough to put a thick layer of ryegrass on top of it,” said Bruderek. “It was a good decision because the Bermuda is popping now and growing like crazy. The coaches want the grass as low as possible, so I’ve been nudging it down, little by little. I want to get it to ½ inch, but I’m not rushing it.”

“When the team arrived for their first practice in January of this year, it was awesome,” said Bruderek. “From the very beginning, they were supportive of me and noticed even the small improvements that had started to take shape in the grass. If I ask them to stay off a certain part of the field, they comply with no issues. They have a complete understanding of what we’re trying to do out here, which is incredibly helpful.”

Bruderek also got to know the team better, including its most well-known player.

“I had heard a lot about Kaká and what a great player he is. Even at 33 years of age, he is still the most skilled player on the field at any given time,” said Bruderek. “But he is also an incredibly down-to-earth guy who will go out of his way for his fans. His fans will show up here at the practice facility and he always finds time to sign autographs and talk to them. He’s a big reason that this team took off so fast in such a short period of time.”

Bruderek uses a small fleet of Jacobsen equipment to maintain his practice fields.

Matt Bruderek maintains his fields with a Jacobsen LF550 large-area reel mower.

Matt Bruderek maintains his fields with a Jacobsen LF550 large-area reel mower.

“Just getting good quality equipment out here made all the difference,” said Bruderek. “I absolutely love the quality-of-cut I get from the LF550 large-area reel mower. What I love even more is how easy it is to change the height-of-cut, which I can easily do in less than ten minutes without a lift. That’s so critical when it’s just me out here.”

While continuing to improve his practice fields, Bruderek is also working closely with the team on the new downtown stadium. The most pressing item now is sod selection.

“Right now, I’m between Tifway 419 bermudagrass and Celebration bermudagrass. I’ve heard a lot of great things about Celebration’s wear, shade and sun tolerance plus its darker color,” said Bruderek. “But the new stadium planners did extensive sun testing through computer simulation and we know the grass will get good hours of sun every day.”

The new stadium, which will seat between 25-28 thousand fans, is planned to open in the summer of 2016.

As the downtown stadium takes shape this summer, Bruderek will continue to enhance his practice fields, verticutting, topdressing and aerifying as much as he can.

“Once the new stadium is done, I’ll be running back and forth quite a bit and I hope to have some help by that time,” he says. “But until then, my plan is to get these fields in top shape for the team.”

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Jacobsen and the Rio Olympic Golf Course

April 2014-028It’s the premier sporting occasion on the planet, watched by a global TV audience estimated at over 3.6 billion, and Jacobsen products will play their part as golf returns to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next year, after a 112 year absence.

The golf course has been constructed in Barra da Tijuca, a district of Rio de Janeiro that contains the largest number of Olympic Games venues and is located 7 kilometres from the Athlete’s Village.

Gil HanseGil Hanse and his team won the battle to design the course and were awarded the contract following submissions from seven other high profile entries – Gary Player Design, Greg Norman Golf Course Design, Hawtree Ltd, Nicklaus Design, Renaissance Golf Design, Robert Trent Jones II and Thomson Perrett. Hanse was voted ‘Architect of the Year’ by Golf Magazine in 2009, the same year that one of his designs, Castle Stuart in Scotland, won the accolade of ‘Best New International Course’.

After a delay due to a customs-related issue with the irrigation system, construction began towards the end of 2013. Based on a typical layout that would be found in Australia’s sand belt around the Melbourne area, the course features natural vegetation, extensive bunkers, a lagoon and sandy rough ground lining the fairways.

April 2015-019

Initial turfing in May 2014

The mix of grass species is an interesting one with Zeon Zoysia used extensively on tees and fairways, while SeaDwarf Seaside Paspalum is used on the greens. Both species are drought tolerant and the Paspalum is also saltwater tolerant, which is important as the quality of the irrigation water will be variable.

None of the grass on the course has been grown ‘in situ’ from seed; all the grass cover has been laid as turf or sprigs. Marcello Matte is the owner of Green Grass Brazil, who is responsible for producing the grass that has been used across the 35 hectare (85 acre) site. The Zeon Zoysia cultivar, explicitly for use on golf courses, has been developed by grass breeder David Douget of Bladerunner Farms in Texas, USA. The planting of the golf course began in May 2014, using three different approaches; the majority of the Zeon Zoysia areas – tees and fairways – were planted using large rolls of turf, but some areas were planted using oblong shaped turf sods. The SeaDwarf Seaside Paspalum used on the greens were all planted as sprigs. As well as being drought tolerant, Zeon Zoysia has low fertiliser requirements and grows in a dense mat, which helps with weed suppression.

Neil Cleverly (standing) with grass breeder David Douget as turfing begins

Neil Cleverly (standing) with grass breeder David Douget as turfing begins

Course Superintendent Neil Cleverly, International BIGGA Member and International Superintendent Member of the GCSAA, is the successful Englishman who landed one of the most sought-after jobs in the industry back in June 2013. With a portfolio that encompasses Europe, Asia and the USA, he is extremely experienced in the management of warm season grasses.

Commenting during a conversation with Golfdom magazine back in October 2014, Gil Hanse said,
“I didn’t meet him until after he was selected. He was interviewed at the GCSAA show in San Diego, which I was unable to attend. Jim Wagner from our company went down and was part of the team that interviewed him. By all accounts Neil did a great job, he’s got a ton of experience overseas, primarily with warm season grasses, which was a bonus.

“Although he doesn’t have experience with Zeon Zoysia, which is the primary grass on-site, he’s well equipped to deal with it and he has been a Godsend. During the early parts of construction it was basically me and a couple of guys who work with me down there. Working without a project manager and trying to make sense of it all was difficult, and then when Neil showed up he immediately took over as project manager.

April 2014 Construction - 1145“He got very involved in the earth moving and quickly demonstrated what he could bring to the project. He is not only a great turf manager, but also an excellent project manager from the construction standpoint. So he has been the rock of the construction part of the project.”

It was back in the spring of 2014 that Jacobsen was confirmed as the preferred supplier of the mowing equipment. Commenting, Alan Prickett, Managing Director of Ransomes Jacobsen in the UK said,
AP 074“One of the deciding factors was that we have a local distributor in Brazil. ProGolf has represented the Jacobsen brand in Brazil since 2012 as well as Ryan, Turfco and Smithco; three companies with whom we have excellent working relationships across the globe. ProGolf’s core business is golf course construction, and they are working as sub-contractors at the Olympic course.

ProGolf Logo2“It’s a tremendous accolade to be associated with the Rio Olympic golf course and, once again, we’re delighted to be involved with the Olympic Games as it continues a tradition for our business that goes back over many decades. This was a particularly important win for us, as it marks the return of golf as an Olympic sport after more than a century, and it’s sure to be one of the high-profile events at the Games.

“Our Regional Sales Manager, Frederico Santa-Barbara, has worked extremely diligently in both the run up to our appointment and in the 18 months since. He visits the course at least once a week to ensure that everything is progressing as it should, and we have ProGolf on course full time in their construction capacity.”

The first Jacobsen equipment arrived in May 2014

The first Jacobsen equipment arrived in June 2014

With turfing underway in May 2014, the initial delivery of 18 Jacobsen machines followed a month later. This consisted of three Eclipse2 walking greens mowers, two Eclipse 322 hybrid powered ride-on greens mowers, four Greens King walking mowers, one SLF1880 super light fairway mower, two LF3800 fairway mowers, three Turfcat out-front ride-on rotary mowers, two UK-built TR3 reel mowers for tees and surrounds and a GA30 pedestrian aerator.

“The Eclipse mowers are an important part of the package,” said Jacobsen’s Frederico Santa-Barbara. “Neil and his team consider them to be the best greens mowers on the market; they are the only mowers with total control over the number of cuts per metre and the reels on the walking versions can be used on the ride-on machine, providing great flexibility. The other key element is that there is absolutely no possibility of an oil spill on the greens, because these are hybrid machines and do not use hydraulic oil.”

April 2015-054By the time the first test event takes place early next year a total of 35 Jacobsen turf maintenance machines will be employed at the course. In the interim, Jacobsen’s Product Support Manager Andrew Echenique will be providing technical training for Neil Cleverly’s team and he will be part of a team of Jacobsen technicians who will be running the maintenance facility over the course of the event.

During the Games, the course will host two 60-competitor tournaments with the women’s event following the men’s competition over a two-week period. It will accommodate 2,500 spectators in grandstands with space for a further 17,500 around the course.

‘Legacy’ is an important word in Olympic circles and the Rio Olympic Golf Course is no different. The International Golf Federation (IGF), who successfully lobbied for golf’s return to the Games, will organise the two events and are responsible for ‘promoting a positive legacy from the Olympic Games.’

Post-Games the course will be the only 18-hole public facility in Rio de Janeiro and Brazil. The Clubhouse will become a multi-purpose venue used for public meetings and social engagements, while the driving range and golf academy will be used for golf practice, instruction and education.

Cerro 8795APerhaps the most important legacy will be the implementation of a youth development programme dedicated to providing young people of all backgrounds with opportunities to continue their education and develop their character through golf. Funding from the Brazilian Olympic Committee to the Confederation of Brazilian Golf will be used for junior golf initiatives around Brazil.

From an ecological and environmental perspective degraded land will be restored by the creation of green space with local access. The venue will be certified as environmentally sustainable by creating a watershed and providing attenuation, natural filtering and water treatment. The biodiversity of the area will be enhanced by managing the water run-off, thereby conserving the soil structure and restricting erosion. Improvements in the ecosystem will increase native plants and encouraging the local wildlife.

Finally, the return of golf has the potential for increased awareness and interest in the sport, not only in Brazil, but across the globe; increased accessibility to play due to the public nature of the 18-hole course and, eventually, increased participation in golf.

Peter DawsonAt the IGF Olympic Golf Forum during the 2015 PGA Merchandise Show, held in Orlando, FL in January, Peter Dawson, President of the International Golf Federation said,
“We began this project of bidding for golf to return to the programme of Olympic sports because so many small countries, small in golfing terms, really needed some help to grow the game …. The growth of the game is worldwide and the inclusion of golf in the Olympic Programme is the biggest ‘grow the game’ opportunity we had and that continues to be the case.”

The final word is left to Alan Prickett, Ransomes Jacobsen’s Managing Director who says,
“With just a year to go before the Opening Ceremony in Rio, everything now looks in place to ensure that golf’s return after a century’s absence, will have a positive influence on the game. From Jacobsen’s perspective we are delighted to be involved, in some small way, in this historic event.”

Jacobsen Eclipse 322 in action

Jacobsen Eclipse 322 in action

A green being cut with a Jacobsen Eclipse2

A green being cut with a Jacobsen Eclipse2

UK-built Jacobsen TR3 in action on the par 4 16th hole

UK-built Jacobsen TR3 on the par 4, 16th hole

October 2014 and Neil Cleverly cuts a fairway for the first time

October 2014 and Neil Cleverly cuts a fairway for the first time

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Jacobsen – winning on the links of Ireland (Part 2)

This is the second instalment of our Public Relations Manager, Peter Driver’s whistle-stop tour of Ireland, where he circumnavigated the country in less than five days, stopping off at some the most prestigious links golf courses along the way. You will see he visited Lahinch, Rosapenna and Portsalon before concluding his tour at Ballyliffin. Wherever he went he found the Jacobsen brand alive and well across the ‘Emerald Isle.’

Lahinch hole 3We begin where we left off last month and following a 230 kilometre drive from the Ring of Kerry, we arrived at Lahinch Golf Club on the coast of County Clare. Lahinch has had outstanding designers from its inception through to modern times; Old Tom Morris, Alister MacKenzie and Martin Hawtree.

Lahinch 144Today, the custodian of the Old Course is head greenkeeper, Brian McDonagh, who has been at the club for 15 years and has been the head man since 2011. He has a team of seven permanent staff on the Old Course, supplement by a further six seasonals between April and October.

Lahinch 127“We run a Jacobsen AR522, which replaced the former model the AR250,” he said. It has very good traction, which is great on our slopes and gives a beautiful finish. We cut our aprons and surrounds at 7.5 mm with a GP400 three-wheel drive. The traction again from this unit is just what we need for a links course. We are also running the tried and tested Greens King IV with turf groomers; to my mind there’s no better grooming unit on the market.”

We still had another 240 kilometres to travel, so shortly after 2.00 pm we set off in north-easterly direction heading for our overnight stop at Enniskillen, back in Northern Ireland, arriving at 6.20 pm. Dinner and an early night followed as we had an early start again in the morning.

Rosapenna aerialWe checked out of the hotel at 7.30 am and were on the road shortly afterwards heading to the northern coast of County Donegal and Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort, situated among the sand dunes of the spectacular Sheephaven Bay.

Arriving at 9.45 am the first person we met was Frank Casey Junior, the Director of Golf. Andy Campbell confirmed that his fleet of E-Z-GO RXV golf cars were behaving well and then it was outside to find Paul Travers, the Links Superintendent.

Rosapenna 160Paul was down by the access road with his team of seven full-time employees and a contractor putting in a main drainage line to alleviate some local flooding issues. He joined the resort back in 2008 and manages a team of 12 staff which includes five part-timers in the summer months. Prior to this he was assistant course manager at Lough Erne during the construction and grow-in phases from 2005 until moving to Rosapenna in 2008.

Commenting on the Eclipse 322 he said,
“This is by far the best greens mower on the market today; fuel economy is excellent and there’s absolutely no danger of the greenkeepers worst nightmare, an hydraulic oil leak on the green! To be able to control the frequency of cut is a huge advance and we’ve been experimenting with it to find the optimum for the greens here.

Rosapenna 090“We have some steep dunes and it copes admirably with any slopes; also the automatic braking system is unique to this mower. It’s comfortable, well thought out, the controls are easily accessible from the control arm and the swing-out centre unit makes routine adjustments quick and easy. Add the excellent level of service we receive from Broderick’s, our local dealer, and we have a package that complements the golfing experience here at Rosapenna.”

Wild Atlantic WayTravelling in this part of northern Donegal is a delight; most of it following the Wild Atlantic Way, a tourist route that hugs the coastline and takes in the rugged cliffs of Malin Head, Fanad Head and the Slieve League.

Portsalon 128Our next port of call was Portsalon Golf Club, situated on the shore of the scenic Lough Swilly and its world-renowned beach, which was deemed to be the second most beautiful beach in the world by the UK’s Observer newspaper.

Johnny Shields, Course Superintendent at Portsalon Golf Club, uses a Jacobsen GP400 ride-on triplex mower as his preferred option for maintaining the tees and approaches at the renowned golfing venue, currently ranked 23rd in the Golf Digest Ireland 100 top courses for 2015.

He manages a small team of three staff, who do a superb job of maintaining the 7,000 yard course, set among the sand dunes along Ballymastocker Bay with the Inishowen Hills beyond.

Kevin Broderick (left) with Johnny Shields sitting on the GP400

Kevin Broderick (left) with Johnny Shields sitting on the GP400

Commenting on the GP400 he said,
“I was extremely sceptical when Kevin Broderick Ltd, my local Ransomes Jacobsen dealer, turned up with a mower that had slick tyres. I was convinced there was no way that it would climb the slopes or cover the ground on my course. However, I underestimated the efficiency of its three-wheel drive capability and I have to admit it’s our ‘go anywhere’ machine; there’s nowhere on the maintained areas, tee to green, that it cannot reach. I also like the easy access to the machine for daily checks and maintenance, especially the integrated fuel and hydraulic tank and the swing-out centre unit; they’re clever designs and help when performing routine maintenance tasks.”

We still had a couple of calls to make and get to our hotel in Ballymena, Northern Ireland some 200 kilometres away, so we said goodbye to Johnny and drove southeast to Letterkenny where we took the N13 towards Buncrana and a courtesy visit to North West Golf Club. Damian Docherty, the Links Superintendent, is very interested in purchasing an Eclipse 322 and Andy was delighted to provide him with anecdotes from our four-day road trip.

Ballyliffin 0169We were soon back on the road and heading to Ireland’s most northerly golf club, located off Tullagh Point on the Atlantic edge of the Inishowen peninsula. Ballyliffin Golf Club was founded in 1947 and is a 36-hole mecca for the links golfer. Originally an 18-hole facility, the Glashedy Links was opened in 1995 to take the pressure off the overplayed Old Links.

Ballyliffin 0177Scotsman Andy Robertson is the experienced Links Superintendent and began his career at Thurso Golf Club in Caithness, where he spent five years learning his trade. In 1992 he headed south to Sunningdale in England, where he spent six years working on the New course, before successfully applying for the job at Ballyliffin in 1998.

Andy heads a team of nine greenkeepers and a dedicated mechanic, who maintain the two courses. It’s a big job, so every man and every item of equipment has to perform to a maximum to ensure the golfing experience for the members and visitors.

Ballyliffin 0173He is another convert to the Eclipse 322 and loves the quality of cut from the diesel-electric hybrid.
“It’s quiet, frugal on fuel and therefore very cost-effective in terms of running costs,” he says. “It has been designed around the operator and produces a very clean finish. We initially tried different FOC settings, before settling on one that’s right for our greens. I have a love of links golf and I certainly have an affection for this mower!”

With the light fading fast, we bade farewell to Andy and headed via Derry/Londonderry back into Northern Ireland where we began our journey just four days ago. Our final destination for today was the Galgorm Resort and Spa, where we would overnight before returning to Belfast and our respective flights and ferries home.

The next morning, and our final few hours in Ireland involved a meeting at Galgorm Castle Golf Club to discuss our continuing support for the Northern Ireland Open, before heading back to Belfast International airport and my return flight to London Stansted.

The two hour wait for my flight gave me the ideal opportunity to reflect on this whirlwind visit. We visited 10 golf clubs in less than five days, eight of which were some of the most prestigious links courses in Ireland. We circumnavigated Ireland and travelled an incredible 1,440 kilometres (895 miles), met some lovely people but, most of all, came away convinced that the Jacobsen brand is flourishing on the links courses of the Emerald Isle.

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Jacobsen – winning on the links of Ireland (Part 1)

Back in November last year Peter Driver, our Public Relations Manager, went on a whistle-stop tour of Ireland and circumnavigated the country in less than five days, stopping off at some the most prestigious links golf courses along the way. The following is the first in a two-part account of his visit, where he found the Jacobsen brand alive and well across the ‘Emerald Isle.’

RCD 042I left home at 5.45 am on a cold, late November morning and arrived at London’s Stansted airport in good time for my 7.55 am flight to Belfast. My colleague, Andy Campbell, Jacobsen’s Regional Sales Manager for Scotland and Ireland, picked me up at Belfast’s  International Airport and we drove straight to The Royal County Down Golf Club, ranked the No. 1 golf course in Ireland in 2015 by Golf Digest Ireland magazine.

Located in the Murlough Nature Reserve, the 36 holes of classic links stretches along the shores of Dundrum Bay, with the magnificent Mountains of Mourne offering a stunning backdrop to a round of golf.

RCD 026Links Manager Eamonn Crawford is the man with the huge responsibility for maintaining the courses and upholding the standards that have ensured it remains one of the most prestigious venues in world golf. He has a permanent staff of 11, supplemented by eight temporary greenkeepers in summer and three dedicated divoters.

This year the number of staff will increase significantly when numerous volunteers arrive in May when the Club hosts the Irish Open. The world class, star-studded field for this year’s event includes tournament host and World number one Rory McIlroy, his compatriots Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell, defending champion Mikko Ilonen, former World number one Lee Westwood, four-time Major-winner Ernie Els and Ryder Cup talisman, Sergio Garcia.

Back in 2013, Eamonn purchased a Jacobsen Eclipse 322 and this was the first time I’d met up with him since the machine was installed.

“It’s a great machine,” he said, “The quality of cut is second to none. Now in its second season it has made a significant difference to the greens on our no. 2 course, the Annesley Links.

RCD 032“One of the main reasons I purchased the Eclipse was for its adjustable clip rate; I wanted to have the facility to change the clip rate throughout the seasons, to suit the growing conditions at any given time. It’s the only ride-on greens mower that allows me to do this and it has been superb.”

Stephen Brady, a member of the greenkeeping team added,
“The improvement in fuel economy is unbelievable; the smaller diesel engine uses much less fuel. In a working week, we hardly ever need to fill it up!

Eamonn also purchased Jacobsen’s latest lightweight fairway mower, the Jacobsen LF550, and has been equally delighted with its performance. So much so, that he has ordered a further three machines, initially to help with the preparations for the Irish Open and for the long-term benefit of both courses.

Good-byes said and it was back into Andy’s truck for the two-hour journey south to The Royal Dublin Golf Club, situated on the shores of Bull island, where we met Paddy Teeling, the Links Superintendent.

Royal Dublin 049Paddy has worked at Royal Dublin for 24 years and is responsible for a team of seven full-time staff and one part-timer. In 2013 he purchased his first Jacobsen GP400 and was so impressed that he purchased a second for the 2014 season.

“As with all purchasing decisions, quality of cut is a huge factor. We arranged for demonstrations by all three major manufacturers and the GP400 ticked all the boxes immediately,” he said. “However, we have many severe undulations on our greens surrounds and approaches and I wanted proof that it could cope with these, as well as ensuring that the cutting units followed the humps and hillocks.  Our local dealer Broderick’s brought along the three-wheel drive version with 11-blade reels and, even though it has slick tyres, it coped admirably.

“The final factor was serviceability; the integrated fuel and hydraulic tank lift up to give excellent access to the engine compartment and the swing-out centre unit is a great innovation, giving really good access for servicing and routine maintenance.”

I’ve never been able to persuade Paddy to be in a photograph and this time was no exception, so his first assistant Gerrard Rowlands and mechanic Donal Mulvey stepped up to the plate and volunteered to be in the picture.

GCSAI 057With the light fading we said our farewells and headed off to our hotel for a quiet night before an early start the following morning, where we were scheduled to attend the Golf Course Superintendents’ Association of Ireland Annual National Education Day at Croke Park.

GCSAI 058The National Stadium of the GAA is a wonderful venue and the 230 registered delegates were treated to a couple of excellent presentations. The first by Steve Chappell, Head Greenkeeper at the PGA Centenary course who provided a fascinating insight into his preparations for, and aftermath of, The Ryder Cup. The second presentation was on the subject of Managing a Premier League Ground and Dougie Robertson, Head Groundsman at West Ham United provided an entertaining look behind the scenes.

Portmarnock 069Halfway through Dougie’s presentation I took a call to say that Gary Johnstone, the Links Manager at Portmarnock Golf Club, about 10 miles northeast of the city centre, was available to talk to me. Twenty minutes later I was on the course chatting to him about his Eclipse mowers; he has two hybrid ride on Eclipse 322s and five Eclipse2 walking greens mowers.

“I purchased two Jacobsen Eclipse 322 diesel-electric hybrid greens mowers back in 2010 and they haven’t missed a beat,” he said. “Both have completed over 800 hours of work and their fuel economy is superb, using just 1.5 litres of diesel for every 18 holes. I also have five Jacobsen Eclipse2 walkers, which we use between March and September; the technology’s the same, the quality of cut is outstanding, they give us more flexibility and I would recommend them to anyone.”

Gary has a mix of greens, some old and some recently refurbished with each type maintained differently. This is only possible due to the technology inherent in the Eclipse mowers.

“Without doubt, these Eclipse machines are more versatile than any other mower on the market today and they are the only machines that allow me to manage each green in an individual way,” he added.

Thanking him for his time, I headed back to Croke Park to catch the end of the Education Day, and then jumping in a taxi with Andy Campbell to return to the hotel, collect his truck and begin the 305 kilometre, four hour journey southwest to Killarney.

We arrived at our hotel at 8.45 pm, had a quick shower, a change of clothes and then went out for a meal in a local bar, which featured an excellent local band. The end of a long, but rewarding day.

Waterville 073An early start Wednesday morning saw us on the road at 7.15 am heading south to Waterville on the Ring of Kerry. We had an appointment to see an old friend Mike Murphy, the respected superintendent at Waterville Links.

Waterville 107We arrived at 8.30 am and were greeted by Mike outside the impressive clubhouse. A short drive and we were in his modern and well equipped maintenance facility, discreetly hidden in the middle of the course by mountainous sand dunes. Like Gary Johnstone at Portmarnock, Mike has had his Eclipse 322 for four years.

“Where do you start when talking about this mower? I suppose the main reason for purchasing the Eclipse is its lack of hydraulics, so zero chance of an hydraulic oil spill on the greens. We’re also seeing massive fuel savings; I’m using two and a half to three litres of diesel to cut 18 greens, instead of 12 to 13 litres of petrol with our previous Toro triple.

Waterville 098“We specified our machine with solid front rollers and Jacobsen’s new 15-blade reels and they are providing a superb finish on our bent and fescue-dominant greens. As far as I’m concerned the more blades the better when cutting fescues! I can dial in the mowing speed, transport speed and, best of all, the frequency of cut – the number of cuts per metre I want on all greens.

“Once set, these variables are locked in, so every green is cut to exactly the same specification; you just can’t do this with any other ride-on greens triple. In the summer I change to grooved rollers and we are consistently stimping 10 feet at 5mm height of cut.

“Originally, as we moved into autumn I raised it to 6mm, but now I just change the rollers. I also specified the brushes that sit between the front roller and the reel. This is excellent in my fescue bent mix as it stands the grass up for an even better cut!”

With a 230 kilometre drive ahead of us we said goodbye to Mike and headed back to Killarney heading for the Atlantic coast of County Clare. We’d had an interesting start to our around Ireland adventure, meeting satisfied customers using a selection of Jacobsen mowers that seem to be particularly suited to links courses.

Our journey continues up the west coast to Co. Donegal and then back into Northern Ireland, where we’ll meet some more end-users who are convinced that Jacobsen equipment works for them in their environments.

To be continued next month ……

Posted in Ransomes Jacobsen (Ipswich) | Comments Off on Jacobsen – winning on the links of Ireland (Part 1)

Lost & Found

Lost Key Golf Club At-A-Glance

Year Opened: 1997
Location: Pensacola, Florida
Superintendent: Ramsey Prescott, Class A Superintendent
Turf: Wall-to-wall SeaDwarf™ Seashore Paspalum
Equipment: Jacobsen® Greens King IV riding greens mowers (5); Jacobsen LF570 fairway mowers (2); Jacobsen AR-5 contour rotary mower (1)
Lost Key Golf Club Superintendent Ramsey Prescott (right) and Equipment Manager Stan Kocel (left).

Lost Key Golf Club Superintendent Ramsey Prescott (right) and Equipment Manager Stan Kocel (left).

Success in seeking a superintendent position requires both personal
commitment and professional preparation. More important, it requires a dedication to improving golf course conditions and helping all staff achieve at their highest level. This was one area Ramsey Prescott was confident in speaking of when he was hired at Lost Key Golf Club in 2011.

The course, now part of a master planned WCI Community, was in need of assistance. When 2011 came to an end, it was recorded as one of the worst drought years in Perdido Key’s history.

“Our course was severely affected by the drought, which produced rainfall 18 inches below normal. Two entire holes were 85% lost from numerous irrigation problems and the drought stricken turf. Since then, we have made great strides in repairing and improving the overall irrigation system.”

Dubbed “Lost Ball” by the locals, Lost Key is a cunning Arnold Palmer design with tight fairways etched out of dense woodlands. The vegetation is so thick players nicknamed the course ‘Lost Ball’ because anything ten feet from the fairway was unfindable. Golfers will have their restraint tested. Oftentimes, the driver needs to stay in the bag.

The Reel Man - built by Equipment Manager Stan Kocel - greets you upon arriving at Lost Key's maintenance facility.

The Reel Man – built by Equipment Manager Stan Kocel – greets you upon arriving at Lost Key’s maintenance facility.

In his 20th year in the golf industry, Prescott can still vividly remember how his career teed off. Prescott and his brother lived in an apartment which was situated above the pro shop at a small local country club in Mississippi, where his brother was acting General Manager & Golf Course Superintendent.

“I would wake up to people teeing off right outside my window and I loved it,” said Prescott. Since being inspired by his brother’s passion for golf course management and gaining the experience working alongside him, Prescott knew his direction and what he was going to do. After receiving his turfgrass degree, Prescott moved around the Southeastern U.S. to gain as much experience as he could – whether it be private club, public courses, or resort.

“I knew getting the course back in shape would be a refreshing challenge,” said Prescott. “I started in August of 2011 and it wasn’t until the middle of 2012 that I felt comfortable with how the course was looking.”

In addition to dramatically improving the quality of the turf, Prescott and his crew made Lost Key much easier to play. With help from WCI Communities, Prescott’s team conducted extensive work on protecting the course’s wildlife habitats, helping preserve Lost Key’s designation as an Audubon Sanctuary (Florida’s first Silver Certified course). Prescott credits his Assistant Superintendent, Jason Bazan and their loyal crew for embracing the change and pulling together to get Lost Key back on track.

Lost Key Golf Club is wall-to-wall SeaDwarf Seashore Paspalum, which creates major challenges for Superintendent Ramsey Prescott and his Equipment Manager Stan Kocel.

Lost Key Golf Club is wall-to-wall SeaDwarf Seashore Paspalum, which creates major challenges for Superintendent Ramsey Prescott and his Equipment Manager Stan Kocel.

“Power is only power if you share it. If anything good happens on the course, I give credit to the crew,” said Prescott. “I’m here to train, teach and motivate them but ultimately they’re the ones doing the most work to get it done.”

He saves his highest praise for mechanic Stan Kocel.

“He’s one of the best mechanics I’ve come across in my twenty year career and is a critical part of our turnaround,” said Prescott. “Because of the aggressiveness of SeaDwarf Paspalum, we introduced a heavy topdressing program to combat the thatch build-up. With so much sand in our reels, Stan has to change out bedknives every day in the summer and grinds the reels once a week. Thanks to Stan, I don’t even have to think about equipment, I just focus on the agronomy.”

For Prescott and Kocel, maintaining wall-to-wall SeaDwarf Paspalum is a constant battle.

“I had never maintained Paspalum before Lost Key and I was amazed by how aggressive it is. In the summer, we are applying a large amount of growth regulator on the greens weekly,” said Prescott. “If I don’t use the growth regulator, we can cut the greens in the afternoon and get as much grass in the baskets as we do in the morning. It’s incredible.”

Lost Key Golf Club uses Jacobsen Greens King IV riding greens mowers and LF570 fairway mowers. Equipment Manager Stan Kocel changes bedknives every day in the summer because of the amount of sand on the course.

Lost Key Golf Club uses Jacobsen Greens King IV riding greens mowers and LF570 fairway mowers. Equipment Manager Stan Kocel changes bedknives every day in the summer because of the amount of sand on the course.

Prescott & Kocel’s mowing weapons of choice to manage the demanding Paspalum include Jacobsen Greens King IV riding greens mowers and LF570 fairway mowers. “In addition to the LF570’s cut quality, I also love how every hydraulic hose is the same length,” said Kocel.”

“We also love the quality-of-cut you get with the 15-blade reels on the Greens King IV,” said Prescott. “You just can’t beat it.”

Always looking for the next challenge, Prescott has continued course enhancements this spring, restoring cart paths, renovating bunkers and clearing wetlands. Prescott’s latest round of improvements will coincide with a major expansion to Lost Key Golf Club, starting in the summer of 2015. Prescott plans to play a major role in moving Lost Key Golf Club and the WCI Communities to the next level, which aligns perfectly with his management philosophy.

“It’s always good to hear that you’re not only a good person to work for, but a good person to work with. I will continue to be a hands-on leader who’s not afraid to work alongside my crew to make things better.”

“It’s always good to hear that you’re not only a good person to work for, but a good person to work with. I will continue to be a hands-on leader who’s not afraid to work alongside my crew to make things better.” ~Ramsey Prescott, Superintendent at Lost Key Golf Club

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