Kitching cooking up good results ...
Castletown Golf Club has been rated as one of the world's top 100 courses for its stunning views and challenging holes.
Head Greenkeeper is Mark Kitching and, together with his assistant, Joe Obrien, and greenkeepers Danny Moine and James Kelly, he is charged with maintaining this exceptional course.
Mark is very much hands on and knows the course and all its vagaries really well, having devoted twenty-four years maintaining it.
The course is set out on the Langness Peninsula, with the sea, therefore, on three sides and an ever prevailing wind that blows across the course. There are 72 pot style bunkers to maintain.
Heights of cut are as follows:
• Greens - summer down to 3.5-4mm - winter 6mm
• Tees and approaches - 10mm all year round
• Fairways - 12mm all year round
• Semi-rough - 30 mm all year round
• Rough - 100mm
Greens are mown with triple mowers on a daily basis, surrounds and tees twice a week, while the rest is done weekly.
A monthly programme of liquid feeds are applied to the greens during the growing period, using Orkney Sea Power Plus 2:0:7. This is supplemented with a Mascot Microfine OC1 8:0:0 + 2%Fe twice a year.
Tees get the same Microfine OC1 8:0:0 plus 2% Fe applied once a year, while the fairways get a small single feed of Delta 8:6:6 + 0.5%Fe.
Aeration to the greens is carried out monthly using a Vertidrain with 300mm deep 13mm tines
The maintenance regime is fairly straightforward, but produce fantastic looking greens that are very fast helped, no doubt, by the constant wind.
Many of the fairways and some greens suffer from seawater damage, especially during high tides and during the winter months. The salt in the water kills all the grass and, where this happens, the only way to resolve it is to flood the areas with fresh water, and re-seed.
Mark and Joe carry out all the repairs to machinery but, with much of the equipment now quite old and tired, it is a never ending task, and they are both hoping the club will invest in new equipment in the near future, befitting a top 100 course.
Cronkbourne Cricket Club
David Slack and Max Stokoe are responsible for maintaining the ground at Cronkbourne Cricket Club.
David has been involved with the club for thirteen years, as player, coach, chairman, chief bottle washer and groundsman, whilst their current first team captain, Max, decided he needed to get involved to ensure he understood what makes a good wicket ... and, perhaps, giving him an advantage of knowing how the pitch is likely to play on the day of the match!
Both of them recently attended the Institute of Groundsmanship Level 1 course in Glasgow and Edinburgh run by Cricket Scotland. As courses are notoriously difficult to run on an island, they were most fortunate that Cricket Scotland were prepared to provide support by making valuable places on the courses available to them.
The Club does not have the resources to employ its own groundstaff and, like most clubs anywhere, must rely mainly upon on a volunteer workforce. Both David and Max work in excess of twenty hours a week to keep the square and outfield up to an acceptable standard. In the autumn they are ably assisted by a hardy bunch of club members who become cart horses for the day, ferrying bags of loam to the square for the winter renovation exercise. The same crew regularly get involved in spring work parties, preparing the pavilion and facilities for the forthcoming season. Fortunately the Club has its own bar, which is a convenient carrot to encourage a reasonable surge of such volunteers.
Resources, generally though, are very limited, with the club having to beg, steal and borrow and make do with the bare minimum in machinery and equipment. David says "Very few laymen are aware of the expense and effort involved in maintaining a grass cricket table. It is a constant struggle to obtain the materials and labour required to ensure a decent playing surface. However, after many years of toil and effort, I do believe we are beginning to reap some reward from our investment, as the improvement in the quality of the wicket surface is becoming ever more palpable"
The club have a healthy junior section and, although many of the junior fixtures are played on the synthetic surface, it is the intention, over time, to move more and more matches onto grass. As one of only four clubs that play on grass wickets it should help improve the standard of play for juniors and senior players alike. The club hopes that, by providing this lead, it will eventually encourage other clubs to follow and establish it as the norm throughout the island.
Paul Bridson - the policy maker ...
Successful policies are delivering excellent results for the island's population - and producing top sports stars into the bargain
The island's Sports Development Manager, Paul Bridson, is based at the new sports complex in Douglas. Paul is responsible for coordinating, implementing and delivering the department's strategy for the provision of sport on the island.
Paul was keen to emphasis the broad range of sporting prowess found on the island, mentioning how, for such a small population, they have produced several world class athletes and sportsmen
Manx sports people have won three golds at the Commonwealth Games, the most recent being professional cyclist, Mark Cavendish, in 2006 in the Scratch race. Cavendish has had great success in cycling, having won fifteen stages of the Tour de France to date.
The Island Games began in 1985 as the Inter-Island Games, as part of the Isle of Man International Year of Sport, and were intended to be a one-off sporting celebration only. As well as islands surrounding the United Kingdom, the countries of Iceland and Malta, the territories of Faroe Islands, Greenland, Saint Helena and Channel Islands, and others were invited to participate.
Initially, fifteen islands, with 600 competitors and officials, took part in seven sports, with the total cost of staging the Games being put at £70,000. The track and field events were held on an eight-lane grass track, a far cry from recent games, which now use synthetic tracks in stadiums capable of holding 10,000 spectators.
So successful were the Games of 1985 that it was decided to hold a similar event two years later. It has now become a biennial event, with the Isle of Man last hosting the Games in 2001.
Paul has a team of development officers representing several sports. All have a key role in developing and delivering their specific sport, working very closely with clubs, schools and colleges.
The net result has been the building of new facilities at schools and clubs, the latest being the £1.5 million Ballafletcher sports pavilion being built on the outskirts of Douglas. Once completed it will provide full size football and rugby pitches and a three grass wicket square.
The Isle of Man's governing bodies are delivering fantastic results and, along with top groundsmen and greenkeepers, are providing first class facilities for islanders and visitors alike.
Sadly, my two days on the island were, perhaps, not enough to do justice to them all. However, I hope that this article will have given our readers an insight into the nuances of island life.
From what I saw, the island must have some of the best sports facilities of any small island and, with more facilities coming online, things, as D-Ream said, can only get better.
With plenty of top flight sporting events pencilled in, the island's up and coming sportsmen and women will have plenty to prepare for in the coming years.
It would seem that Manx sport is going from strength to strength under the guidance of the island's governing sports departments.
My thanks go to Danny Jones for holding my hand and to Mike Atherton for his hospitality.