I chose to spend time with the greenkeeping team as I wanted to learn about the intricate details that go in to keeping Rockliffe Hall’s championship golf course in top condition all year round. With the English Senior Open just two short weeks away I knew the team were working harder than ever to ensure the course looked perfect for the imminent arrival of the TV cameras and media.
My day began with a full course inspection with Pete Newton, head of greenkeeping. The sun was shining and the course looked fantastic. We meticulously checked each tee box and green; filling in divots, changing the tee box placements, checking all course signage and making sure the pins and holes were to standard.
Pete explained the various different grass types, along with the growing and maintaining methods they use for each type – he was a fountain of knowledge. Our final stop on the golf course was the driving range. After getting to grips with the switch cane and clearing any debris from the grass bays I was then shown how to operate the 5410 fairway mower and after a safety briefing was entrusted to mow the far side of driving range. Hopefully none of the golfers noticed that my mowing lines weren’t particularly straight!
Once the driving range was completed I was able to spend some time with some other members’ of the green keeping team who were busy adding and raking additional sand in to one of the courses 77 bunkers. The conservation buzzed with talk of the forthcoming tour and it was obvious how passionate the team are about delivering exceptional course standards and how much pride they take in their work.
After a quick stop for lunch Pete demonstrated how the drainage and irrigation system works. This is one of Rockliffe’s truly unique features; as when the course was built over 7 miles of under course drainage and irrigation was fitted. The system enables the courses moisture levels to be completely controlled through a computer in Pete’s office, via a smartphone app or radio control whilst out on the course.
Throughout the remainder of the afternoon I learned more about the course. Pete demonstrated how they hand cut the pristine greens and how they manage the growth on the greens to maintain a true and fast roll throughout the tournament; and I assisted Pete with changing some of the pin positions. I was even able to make an attempt at cutting the grass on one of the greens myself, which was a lot harder than the experts make it look!
All in all I had a fantastic day. I really got a behind the scenes insight to the world of greenkeeping and look forward to admiring the teams hard work at the English Senior Open in just two weeks’ time!
To find out more about working at Rockliffe Hall, please click here or phone a member of the team on 01325 729999.