Golf Course Management

DEC 2013

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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gcm ex t ra Is it sustainable? Evans questions the premise of the ongoing sustainable golf debate and the fescue-based direction promoted by the R&A and groups like the Gingerbread Men, many of whom have visited him at the club and whom he would count as friends. The general viewpoint of his critics when they visit Ealing is that the greens are fantastic. When it comes back to sustainable golf, what is sustainable? My costs are going down. Our revenue as a golf club is going up, and we are managing an indigenous species. "But there is always a 'but,' whether it is, 'But it's still a weed grass' or 'But what happens if you have an irrigation breakdown?' or 'But what happens when chemicals are banned by the European Commission?'" says Evans. "I say to them that it's an indigenous grass; that if the irrigation breaks down I'll get it fxed; and that while I don't think chemicals will be banned (as there are currently more chemicals coming onto the lists than are being removed, and they are much more environmentally friendly), if they are, we'll all have poorer surfaces." Evans is also aware of the irony that while he is still at Ealing seven years later, many of his critics and advocates of sustainable golf are no longer at their clubs. "When it comes back to sustainable golf, what is sustainable? My costs are going down. Our revenue as a golf club is going up, and we are managing an indigenous species. That has got to tick a 66 GCM December 2013 Evans says that cutting his aeration program in half has not had a detrimental effect on the quality of the greens. box surely?" he argues. "And the greens are frm, fast and true, which is just what the R&A advocate." Evans adds he is disappointed that no British college lecturers have spoken with him or even admitted the option of 2 millimeter cuts in training courses. To ensure accuracy in cutting, Evans employs an array of scientifc tools, including an accuguage to set the blades and a prism to tell him the height of the green, as well as weather stations and moisture meters. "We have to use the tools at our disposal, and we have to embrace technological advancements," he says. "The balata ball and the persimmon driver have been replaced, and greenkeeping and the tools we use have also changed." When he arrived at Ealing his "big sell" was championship conditions 365 days a year, every year. He has achieved that. "We are a small golf club set in 88 acres with no practice facilities, and we needed a USP (unique selling perspective) to survive. We now have that, and Ealing is renowned for the quality of its greens," Evans says. The biggest complaint I hear is about ball washers, so we must be doing something right." GCM Scott MacCallum is a freelance writer based in York, North Yorkshire, England, and the former editor of BIGGA's Greenkeeper International magazine.

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