The speed of golf greens came under scrutiny during the Q&A session at the recent Irish Links Initiative Conference at Newcastle in County Down. It was said that “most golfers are influenced by television to request faster green speeds but few can handle them.”
It was agreed that if the contours on the green are severe then fast greens become almost impossible to putt on but on the other hand if the greens are quite flat and slow then the ball will not respond to the various borrows. Following a lot of debate it was put forward that the optimum level might be a reading of between 9 and 10 on the stimp metre.
This was the second meeting of the Irish Links Initiative founded by Brian Coburn. The conference was held at Royal County Down Golf Club with a new format implementing a ‘hands-on and back to basics’ approach. Most of the day was spent out on the links where the club’s green staff headed by Course Manager Alan Strachan had set up three different work-stations.
They explained on site not only the success of their maintenance regime but openly highlighted many of the problems they encounter. The delegates were interested in the club’s low-input maintenance programme with a no fungicide policy. There were some short presentations by Failte Ireland and the club’s staff followed by an lively discussion.
The simple aim of the Irish Links Initiative is to protect the heritage of Irish links golf and retain these seaside courses in their natural environmental state as they represent some of the oldest golf courses in the world. They are also responsible for generating substantial amounts of finance to the country by attracting large numbers of golfing visitors to Ireland.
The feedback following the conference is very encouraging, Eamonn O’Connor, Chairman of the GUI’s Greenkeeper Training and Ecology Committee simply said: “It was a fantastic day’. Michael Moss, General Manager, Portstewart Golf Club remarked: “The presentation from the green staff was exemplary and probably unique. There was something there for everyone.”
Nick Park representing the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews stated: “It was one of the best events I have ever attended in 30 years of these things. Never a dull moment from start to finish.”
The Irish Links Initiative has the support of the Golfing Union of Ireland, R&A, Failte Ireland and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of Ireland. Brian Coburn said; “I am delighted with the support we have received and the excellent turnout with delegates representing 32 links golf clubs from all round the coast of Ireland. During the event many friends were made, lots of mutual problems were discussed with an exchange of information, experience and views. I consider the future of the Initiative is now secure and I look forward to the next event in the West of Ireland in 2009.”