Broadstone Golf Club is a heathland course, set in the Dorset countryside and is listed in the Top 100 golf courses in Britain and Ireland. To make the greens more sustainable Head Greenkeeper Martin Coward has embarked on a sward conversion programme with the help of Johnsons Sports Seed.
Martin has worked at Broadstone for 30 years, starting at the bottom and attaining the top slot 4 years ago, and is supported by a team of seven. The predominately Poa annua greens at Broadstone are always in great condition during the summer, but with the demands for year-round play, Martin wanted to extend the period the greens could be in top condition to get good play throughout autumn, winter and spring. Around 2 years ago, under the guidance of Master Greenkeeper and now consultant Gordon Irvine, it was decided to change the grass species to stand the club in better stead for the future.
"We are now in the first year of a five year sward conversion programme to convert our greens to predominately Bent" explains Martin. "The Poa greens are at times difficult to manage and prone to disease meaning regular applications of fungicide are required to eradicate the problem, costing us around £1000 a spray. With the upcoming legislation changes on Pesticides, chemical applications, water usage and the continuing challenge of climate change, Bent greens will not only provide improved annual coverage but will also require less water and chemical input."
Following successful conversions at other clubs, Martin was happy to follow Gordon's tried and tested advice and chose the Johnsons J All Bent mixture for the job. "I've used Johnson's J Fescue on the fairways before and chose J All Bent on this occasion because of the top STRI ratings for the 2 Browntop cultivars, Arrowtown and Manor. It was so important that this being the first year, we achieved great results and needed a seed that could deliver that."
The first pass on the greens began on the 25th September and by the 8th October they had already achieved good germination. "Everyone was amazed how quickly it came up, the lines were clearly visible." To date, Martin has received a lot of positive feedback from members and fellow Greenkeepers and Course Managers after he published his results on social media.
Final word from Martin, "It's been an intense job, lots of ground work beforehand but the results we've achieved show it pays dividends to do it properly. This programme will continue for the next 4 years, when the greens will be predominately Bent, and hopefully then we will be in a great sustainable position for future greens management."
Images: Top - Martin Coward, Head Hreenkeeper. Bottom - The 'visible' quick germination of J All Bent at Broadstone GC