Gleneagles is poised to become the first course in the UK to install the SubAir aeration and moisture removal system under its greens.
The Scottish resort has been evaluating the system on the low-lying tenth green of the PGA Centenary course – which will host the 2014 Ryder Cup – for some time.
Early results of the testing have been positive, and the resort’s owners are now considering whether to install the SubAir system – which enables greenkeepers either to suck excess water out of the green’s rootzone, or to blow warm air into the soil to encourage grass growth. This last is a significant issue at Gleneagles, which due to its northerly, elevated location in the Perthshire hills, has a notoriously short growing season.
Golf courses and estate manager Scott Fenwick told the Scotsman newspaper that initial test results were positive. “We've put sensors in both the tenth green and sensors in the seventeenth green,” he said. “When the machine first went in, the tenth green was one degree colder than the seventeenth and it was also five per cent wetter. It is now 1.2 degree warmer than the seventeenth, and six per cent dryer.” The cost of installing the system on all eighteen greens of the Centenary course is estimated at around half a million pounds.
Preparation work for the 2014 Ryder Cup is continuing at Gleneagles, with Jack Nicklaus’s firm – which originally designed the Centenary course – now back in place as consulting architect, after some years of work by DMK Golf Design.
Nicklaus’s team is considering changes to the course’s home hole, which many observers consider to be underwhelming and unsuitable for the final hole of a Ryder Cup course. In addition, the course’s seventh green has been flattened in advance of the forthcoming Johnnie Walker Championship event on the European Tour.