R&A funds sustainable golf research

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By Sean Dudley

The R&A Golf Course Committee is funding two projects to examine different aspects of sustainable course management.

Six golf clubs in the UK are cooperating with an investigation into the firmness of putting surfaces and fairways. Using the Turf Thumper, a device developed by the USGA, The R&A will produce guidelines on the acceptable range of firmness for links, heathland and parkland courses. The firmness of a green is one of the most important characteristics contributing to turf health, green speed and trueness.

The participating clubs are Royal Troon and Renfrew in Scotland, Conwy (Caernarvonshire) in Wales, Trentham, Ganton and Alwoodley in England. The Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) is managing the project and will report on the outcome in the autumn of 2007.

The second project will be monitored over four years and will consider the process of developing firmer, leaner greens and, thereby, improving their sward composition. In the UK, soft, thatch-ridden putting surfaces tend to be dominated by annual meadow-grass.

This is the grass found on golf turf which is the most susceptible to common and disfiguring turf diseases and climatic stresses.

Five clubs in England – Cold Ashby, Farnham Park, Knowle, Leek and Wilmslow – have been selected to take part in this project, all having addressed thatch issues, if they were present, and in an appropriate condition to promote the more desirable turfgrasses – the fine fescues and browntop bent.

STRI will assess the species composition of selected greens at each of these courses at the start of the project and at the end of a three year programme of maintenance which will include overseeding with fescue and browntop bent.

The purpose of these projects is to provide technical support to those managing golf courses and it is intended that, on completion of the research, the results will be written up and posted on The R&A Best Practice website, www.bestcourseforgolf.org.

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