An educational day was recently staged at Cannington Centre, Bridgwater specifically targeted at Higher Education Sports Turf Students and selected industry professionals.
The day was well attended and involved 5 presentations from a range of speakers, some of who have current hands on practical experience of golf course and fine turf management, some with more scientific backgrounds and Consultancy roles.
The day involved a common theme of looking at sustainability, but also challenged some of these principles with both scientific evidence and also a commercial aspect to the presentations that is often missing from these events. The principle aim being to expose the students to the pro's and con's of the sustainable route and how these can be matched with economic viability and commercial reality.
The speakers of the day were:
Mr Richard Whyman: Course Manager at Burnham and Berrow Links
Richard Whyman gave an insight into promoting and maintaining finer grasses particularly fescues at his course. He spoke about how he has reduced the inputs of water and fertilisers. Nitrogen inputs have been dramatically reduced since 2000. He was applying about 100 kg N /Ha in (2000) and now in (2008) he is applying below 40 kg N /Ha.
He also reviewed his maintenance regimes, resulting in an increase in the frequency of the following tasks brushing, topdressing, aeration and overseeding. The net result has been an improvement and increased density of finer grasses on his greens.
Mr Paul Worster: Course manager of Minchinhampton GC, BIGGA Vice Chairman
Paul who is Vice Chairman of BIGGA began his presentation with an insight into what BIGGA was about and the role it provides for people working in the greenkeeping industry and particularly how the organisation had supported him throughout his career.
Paul then gave an interesting talk about the work going on at his course He was keen to point out some of the environmental works that he had implemented on the course in recent years. Creating more wild life habitats, Conservation work in the rebuilding of dry stone walls and hedge laying a great opportunity for his staff to learn new skills while at the same time improving the infrastructure of the course.
Ms Jayne Leyland: Research and Development at Barenbrug UK seeds
"The presentation focused on the important role that seed breeding and the continued research and development of seed mixtures plays in helping create a more sustainable approach to golf course management. Faced with increasing environmental and fiscal pressures, choosing the correct mixture for individual requirements and having access to the knowledge of how to optimise results from overseeding investment is vital.
Choosing for desirable characteristics such as improved disease tolerance, considering germination temperature for faster repairs and establishment, looking to new species for specific solutions and choosing high purity, high germination and high vigour seed is essential, particularly when investing in species exchange as part of a programme to help create a more sustainable golfing experience.
The presentation also highlighted the important role of "in-field" trials with turf professionals and independent trials at STRI. The current Barenbrug Golf Green Differential Input Trial is demonstrating significant variations in sward performance, particularly species composition and playing performance, where the same mixtures are maintained under two differential input regimes, a "standard" and a "relaxed" input, with differentials of mowing heights, nutrient input, and surface disturbance".
Mr Stuart Yarwood: Course Manager at Lymm GC and Mr Paul Lowe: Course Manager at Bromborough GC
Next up were Stuart and Paul who gave a passionate talk about there own careers and how they were promoting sustainable management practices at their own courses. Particularly focussing on the importance of good communication between all parties especially the greens committees. Paul advocated regular debriefs and course walks with members. They also talked about the Gingerbread men a group of dedicated greenkeepers who meet up on a regular basis.
Mr Laurence Pithie MG: Group Golf Courses Manager Crown Golf UK
Gave a very interesting talk about a greens recovery programme at Oak Park Golf Club. Laurence explained the work involved to bring back into play 28 damaged greens after an accidental dose of Total Herbicide (glysophate) had been applied by mistake. He spoke how quickly they had to get organised in terms of notifying club officials of the work planned, gearing up staff, materials and equipment.
The first job was to mow out some temporary greens then get on with the renovation works. This included, doubled deep scarifying and verticutting after which the greens were mown at 3 mm to reduce as much grass cover as possible.
The greens were then top dressed and overseeded with all the work being completed in three days. Similar work was carried out on the collars and a less intensive but similar programme to the green surrounds but overseeding included a dwarf rye mixture.
It was then a case of waiting for germination, nurturing the greens back with regular mowing and feeding regimes until they were back to a playing condition. Nine of the greens were back in play after three months. A remarkable example of what can be achieved with the right knowledge and experience. The main 18 greens being sand based were given a further three months before play recommenced.
Will Bowden, Programme Manager for Green keeping and Sports turf at the college said:
"My intention in organising this event was to provide the students on our NVQ 3, CHE and FDGCM programmes with a balanced and varied programme of topics and speakers on the core subject of sustainability. The speakers were excellent and the standard and quality of presentations superb. As a college I want to develop events like this and benefit both the education of our students and staff"
At Bridgwater, Bowden is continually developing the curriculum for sports turf. This includes revalidating core units of the syllabus to keep updated and relevant to the industry. As part of this updating, the Foundation Degree course will be encompassing a Water Resource Unit next year. Also as an area Sports turf education at cannington is backed up by excellent resources (full length 9 hole golf course) state of the art golf course maintenance equipment, fully automated and floodlit driving range, pitch and putt golf course as well as cricket, Rugby and Football pitches.
Students are involved in projects ranging from establishing turf trial plots, to designing and constructing bunkers on the golf course.
Educational seminar days such as the one held recently are all ways of embedding current and up-to-date knowledge across the sports turf programmes. The aim of all the courses are to be objective and dynamic in delivery and encourage student development practically and theoretically. Cannington has recently announced the success of two of its Higher Education Sports Turf students:
Mark Anderton (Foundation Degree in Golf Course Management) and Patrick Michel (Certificate of Higher Education in Greenkeeping and Sports turf) have both been accepted on to the 2009 Polaris World scholarship. Making up 50% of the applicants Patrick and Mark will be involved in construction projects, grow ins and high level maintenance regimes, coupled with attending quality lectures as arranged by the Scholarship.
Programme Manger Will Bowden commented:
"This is fantastic for the guys. Out of just 4 placements on offer, Cannington have 2 students going. It can't be underestimated how great this opportunity is and these students will be giving themselves the best possible chance of developing their confidence and careers in the coming years. As a college we support them wholeheartedly and look forward to keeping in touch and watching them both develop in knowledge and confidence during the year"
As an industry we need to focus on creating opportunities and an exciting environment for education that opens up individual's potential and confidence. We have seen a decline in young people coming in to our industry and need to be more proactive in encouraging and enthusing youngsters to enter our profession?