Wisley Golf Course is an exclusive members golf club set alongside the Royal Horticultural gardens in Surrey, The course was constructed in 1989 at which point I became the Course Manager. This purpose built Robert Trent Jones Jnr. championship course boasts three independent nine-hole courses that are all inter-usable, giving me the unique opportunity and luxury of being able to close one of the courses for works at any time if required. It also enables the club shop to be flexible in tee off times. In the summer we generally close one of these courses off from members every Monday so that we can get on to do what I term 'disruptive maintenance' such as aeration, spraying or top dressing. This allows unbroken members play for the other six days each week.
I currently run a full time staff of 31 including myself, this consists of one deputy manager, one irrigation technician, four gardeners, our driving range attendant, the greens team of course and two mechanics. It may sound a lot for 27 holes but the clubs remit is to emulate a championship level course all year round.
Our largest cost is fairway maintenance, due largely to the creeping bent grasses that have been chosen as the dominant species. We therefore extend out typical greens maintenance program to cover all our fairways. This includes hollow tining and top dressing operations, three times a year.
When I took on the course we spent over twelve months establishing the tees, greens and fairways before the club officially opened in August 1991. The privately owned club has a share holding membership of seven hundred. There are no green fees and we hold no society or external events, the course is solely for the use of members and their guests. Of the revenue received each year through membership fees, probably half is spent directly on maintaining the course to the highest standards.
Our current projects include the re-turfing of nine greens as part of an ongoing program to keep Poa annua out and introduce new specially grown Penn A4 advanced cultivars. We have had the turf custom grown by Inturf on an 80:20 root zone medium, similar to the make up of our greens. This commissioned turf amounts to about 6000 square
Unfortunately there is little or nothing in the way of chemicals that will control Poa, certainly nothing that doesn't have serious detrimental effects on the finer grasses in the greens, although I can't help thinking that we are nearing the day that a suitable product becomes available.
One of our other winter projects is the addition of more pipe drainage to some of our tees and foot traffic routes, as the course is built on a flood plain the ground is mainly silt and can become water retentive, particularly during the winter months. This is a subject that I shall elaborate on next time.