Q&A with Ben Lowery

By Alistair October 24, 2020 07:06 Updated

The course manager at Market Rasen Golf Club talks about the maintenance of the greens.

What are the major challenges you and the team have faced throughout the pandemic, how have you coped and continued to maintain the course?

At the start of the pandemic we had three staff furloughed and ran the course with two members, myself and my deputy, in line with the England Golf and BIGGA guidelines. The dry spring on top of this was a further challenge, as we had to maintain the greens and tees with hand watering. Being short-staffed was a challenge in terms of keeping up with cutting. As we returned from lockdown and golf opened up, golfers were expecting to come back to Augusta. This made things more challenging and meant we had to work additional hours. We also had to adjusted budgets accordingly in line with the situation, but this has not affected us too much.

Has the club seen an up-lift in membership has the club seen as a result of Covid-19 and what pressures has this had on the course and your daily maintenance programmes?

The club has retained its membership and I am pleased to say has gained around an additional 50 members which is fantastic! As a result, the course has been very busy and for the first few months, tee times were full from 07.30am – 07.00pm. We’ve seen walk-off areas, greens and the tees have been hit a bit harder with wear, but it’s not a huge issue and easily remedied.

You’ve recently purchased Tru Turf RB48 -11A greens roller, what was the appeal of this model, how are you using it as part of your programme and how often?

I’ve been at Market Rasen for three years and the previous course I worked at used a turf iron. The RB48 -11A is a model I am familiar with, although we did try it on demo for a while. It’s a basic machine that is easy to operate and does a great job and we will use it throughout the season, from April to November. Currently we use it two to three times a week and if we have championship days, we will increase the use. When we apply growth regulator to the greens we now opt to use the greens roller to leave a bit more leaf on the green and keep them as sustainable as we possibly can, whilst delivering smooth, quick greens.

What renovation projects do you have lined up for the winter period?

Obviously with the increased footfall this season, there has been increased ware across the course, and so we will undertake patch up work. The next five years we have a thinning programme to the woodland, to tidy the course up and allow more air and light to the surfaces. We have a couple of new fairway bunkers planned and will be re turfing some existing bunkers. We shall be putting in additional pathways around the course and about a mile of drainage will be installed.

Are the members happy with the turf iron?

The members love it, and enjoy it when the greens are a quicker and say it makes a huge difference. A good many members’ expectations are built on TV green speeds and I think the Tru Turf greens roller allows us to get near to those expectations.


By Alistair October 24, 2020 07:06 Updated

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