Keilir GC meets Arctic challenge
By Carol Dutton
Situated on the West coast of Iceland, 15 minutes from Reykjavik and approx 160 miles South of the Arctic Circle, Keilir's championship course plays host to the Icelandic Open and the Canon Pro Open ( June 25, and July 27) followed by Iceland's National Tournament on 25th August. Not surprisingly, at this latitude, Keilir's main enemy is the severe winter cold.
"We're open all year round," says course manager Olafur Agustsson, "although we use a temporary course in the winter and open full scale from 15th April to 15th October. Four or five years ago, before we were affected by global warming we could lose 50 to 60% of our grass with "winter kill"."
Even now temperatures can sink to minus 15 Celsius between November and March, when the course is often covered with snow and ice. Low light angles in early spring do nothing to help a quick turf recovery and, as a links course with a rocky sea boundary, Keilir suffers from excess salt. "The sea, hitting the rocks has sprayed the course over the years which means that salt has built up in the soil profile," explains Olafur. "We're now in the process of flushing the Sodium out."
As if Keilir's geographical situation didn't provide enough turf care challenges, the first nine holes are built on a lava field. "The soil was brought in and it's not bad," Olafur confides, "but it's only 15cms deep on the fairways. This is a windy site and these holes can suffer from drought."
Olafur has been working with Floratine for the last two and a half years having met the company at BTME 2000 and later, attended a seminar, which the company hosted in Iceland. Frank Dargan of the Turf Care Group (Floratine's distributors who work through the Icelandic company M.H.G) says that their first priority was to achieve faster establishment in spring and get the greens open quicker.
"Our soil amendment regime includes Pervade, a soil penetrant, Maxiplex, a leonardite-derived humic acid and CalpHlex, a multi chelated Calcium to help flush out the excess Sodium," he says. "We've also included bulk calcium to reduce salt levels. CalpHlex helps turn insoluble Calcium into a soluble form which makes it more available to the plant."
During the summer months, Keilir enjoys up to 22hrs sunlight out of 24, which means that the grass has very little time to "sleep" or rest. This is when
Olafur, who has been course manager at Keilir for nine years, and is currently, along with his 12-man greenstaff team working from 2.00am to 7 or 8.00 pm, applies the soil amendments, monthly in a liquid form, and the foliar feed every 10 to 14 days.
"The main difference since applying the Floratine programme is that we're getting more even growth," he reports. "The plant seems to be more tolerant of the stress conditions we have here and less susceptible to "winter kill". We're getting new spring growth much sooner."
"Golf is very big in Iceland. 15% of the population play golf and we have 64 registered golf courses. In the summer months, people like to play through the night. They like their midnight golf and we can have up to 250 players on the course in one day."
Come November, Olafur and his team get a well-deserved rest. There is no course maintenance until the end of March.
"In the winter months it's not light until 10.30am. and dark at 3.30 to 4.00pm. As this is outside the growing season, the lack of light is not crucial. The one thing we have to fight against is the cold."
For further information on Floratine Int. contact David Snowden on Tel: 01765 658031 mobile: 07799 036996 Email : firstname.lastname@example.org