Too good to hurry! A council run course provides first class facilities, thanks to Murray Jones and his team.
Douglas Golf Course is one of only a very few golf courses in the world designed by Dr Alister MacKenzie, architect of some of the world's most challenging courses, among which are the Augusta National in Atlanta, Georgia and Australia's Royal Melbourne.
Owned by Douglas Borough Council, this 18-hole municipal 'pay and play' course is maintained by a team of specialist council ground staff, and offers some of the best and most affordable golf in the island.
The course started life in 1910, when the then Douglas Corporation, with a view to future expansion of the borough, bought 256 acres of pastureland known as Pulrose Farm on the south-west outskirts of the town, reserving 130 acres on which to build a golf course.
The council appointed a golf committee, who commissioned Dr MacKenzie to design the course, and his company, the British Golf Course Company Ltd., to supervise the construction work. Much of the labour was provided by council staff, with the council's tramway horses (Douglas has the oldest surviving horse tram service in the northern hemisphere, dating from 1870) brought in to help during the winter of 1926-27.
Skilful draining of a marshy area allowed for the 1st, 2nd and 18th fairways to be laid on reclaimed land and, when the course was completed at a cost of £5000 and opened on August 8 1927, measured 5587 yards.
An early description of the course commented: 'Its most striking features are the four really excellent one-shot holes and the number of tee-shots at the longer holes, which provide a good carry for the ambitious golfer to go for, without infliction of unnecessary punishment on the less powerful player by what are sometimes known as unfair cross hazards.'
The Head Greenkeeper is Murray Jones, who leads the groundstaff team that maintain the course.
The greens are aerated weekly throughout the summer and winter, using a Jacobsen G-Plex 3 with star slitter attachments. In addition, each month during the winter the greens are deep aerated with a SISIS spiker set to a depth of seven inches. When weather conditions are suitable, the greens are verti-drained to a depth of eight inches using a Redexim Charterhouse verti-drain, then scarified to 3mm depth, dressed and seeded using a Greens JI mixture of 40 percent chewings fescue, 40 percent slender creeping fescue and 20 percent browntop bent, then dressed using 600kgs 70/30 mix per green, usually in September and again in March/April, weather permitting. Scarifying is carried out regularly to keep Poa annua to a minimum and reduce thatch build-up.
Fertilising of greens
Summer: Sierraform GT 22:5:11+2MgO+TE slow release. Application: April to September at 35gms per m2 every six weeks to all greens, including two putting greens, tees and surrounds.
Winter: Greenmaster 6:5:10+Fe. Application: September to April at 30gms per m2 every eight weeks to all greens, including two putting greens, tees and surrounds.
Tees are regularly divoted and aerated using a tractor-mounted SISIS spiker, down to a depth of seven inches, and also overseeded using MM12 made up of 20 percent chewings fescue, 20 percent slender creeping red fescue, 25 percent strong creeping red fescue, 25 percent smooth stalked meadow grass, five percent browntop bent and five percent Highland browntop bent, then topdressed with a 70/30 mix combined with coarse sand.
Fairways are slit monthly throughout the summer and verti-drained bi-monthly in winter. Mowing and divoting are carried out regularly. "The fairways aren't fertilised due to the high cost, but we're currently looking at securing some extra funding so we can carry out fertilising at least twice a year," explained Murray.
In October 2002, the 1st, 2nd and 18th fairways and 1st and 17th greens were put out of action for three years due to severe flooding. Murray said, "the damage occurred when a gas supply pipe was being installed through the course. The gas company met the repair costs and, in March 2003, a major project was launched to fill in an area of 24,000m2 using 330,000 tonnes of soil and construct two new greens to USGA specifications. During this time, the course was reduced to 16 holes so, to provide 18-hole competition play conditions, two temporary greens were laid out on an adjacent Council-owned sportsfield bordering the 15th fairway.'
The winter maintenance programme for 2010/11 will see the reconstruction of all bunkers, including re-shaping, realigning and re-sanding. Drainage work will be carried out in-house to the 2nd, 8th, 15th and 16th greens, and all tee boxes are to be re-levelled.
Height of cut Summer Winter
Greens 3-4mm 5-6mm
Aprons 8mm 8mm
Fairways 12mm 12mm
Tees 8mm 8mm
Semi rough 40mm 40mm
Rough 180mm 180mm
Greens, aprons, fairways, tees and semi rough are mown daily between March and October, then regularly throughout the winter months, weather conditions permitting.
What's in the shed?
John Deere 7500 precision cut fairways mower
John Deere 2500A greens mower
John Deere 1445 rough cutter
John Deere TH 6x4 gator
John Deere 5400 tractor with loader
Jacobsen G-plex 3 greens mower
SISIS Huxley mower
Cushman turf truckstar
Cushman Quick Aerator
Cushman core harvester
Redexim 7521 verti-drain
9ft Cutlass Rollamo
Gannon super gill deep seeder
SISIS light duty spiker
DWT tip trailer 1.25 tonne
Dennis greens mower
Foster travel box
John Deere lawn edger
Allen hover mowers x 2
Honda strimmers x 2
Stihl Blow Vac
Stihl backpack strimmer
Towse hedge cutter
1 set Greentek verti cut, scarify units,
1 set Greentek sorrel rollers
1 set Greentek star slitter
1 set John Deere scarifying units