Close to the end of every end-of-event speech there are always thanks for the Greenkeepers, for getting the Course in such great shape. At Forest Hills the team comprises Paul Gibson, the Course manager plus 3 permanent greenkeepers. That’s not many for 100 acres. We asked Paul those questions golfers want to know about why they do what they do..
Why can’t the greenkeepers mow 2 holes in front of the first group out?
There are 2 answers to this: one concerns timing during the day and the other is the route around the Course.
- Mowing doesn’t start before 7am as its too wet with dew. Greens get mowed first, as that is OK when they are damp, then fairways and rough, which need the grass to be drier.
- Route around the Course: Mowing has to be done in the shortest distance around the Course to save time and fuel.
Why can’t work take place around the midweek competitions?
Some jobs, for instance top dressing take too much time, and (for instance) sand needs to bed in, so although the team try and work around competitions, it’s not always possible. Obviously golfers only see work when it’s taking place, no-one is any the wiser when the greenkeepers have rescheduled work to avoid a competition.
Why don’t you cut the rough shorter?
The rough is cut in different lengths to reward the straightest shot. It takes 5 days to mow all the rough, so some areas will be longer depending on the day you play.
Why can’t players play off white tees whenever they like?
The white tees are the golf course equivalent of the best china! They are kept nice for bigger members competitions and open events. They would get worn if they were used all the time, especially by higher handicap players. If you would like to play your round off the white tees as a non member, join in one of the clubs open competitions.
Will the blue stuff used on the greens poison me if it gets on my balls?
If you eat very large amounts of this fertiliser it may upset your stomach but it is always a good idea not to lick the ball and wash your hands. Fertiliser is not the only nasty to get deposited on greens, wildlife on the Course have habits that are not so hygienic either.
Do Winter Wheels REALLY make that much difference?
As the winter wheels have a much smaller area in contact with the ground they do less damage to grass that is not growing over winter (so does not repair itself easily). For a Course (like Forest Hills) which is well drained and heavily used over winter, this is vital. As Forest Hills caters for many retired players, and has the odd hill we like to allow trolleys out all year round and keep people playing. Winter wheels also has an effect in the Spring, with grass improving in condition more quickly. Winter wheels are not just a ruse for the pro shop to increase their revenue.
What extra work do you do before big competitions?
Actually it is much better is we keep the Course in top condition throughout the season, however we will time the application of fertilisers and dressing with the dates of big competitions in mind, to show the Course off.
What are golfers worst habits?
The worst thing is walking to the next tee by the shortest possible route and not around the paths. It creates muddy areas that are unsightly and hard to get rid of.
What 1 thing could golfers do to assist the greenkeeping team?
I think we really know the answer to this one – repair pitchmarks and divots.
What single thing would make your life easier?
No golfers. Well, we did ask!
Finally, as the greenkeeper is watching you as you are about to hit the ball, is he mentally criticising your swing?
Probably, although only 1 of our team plays golf. There are some dodgy swings out there but the team have seen the best and the worst.
We like to think the praise Paul and his team receive throughout the year for the condition of the golf course is well justified. Forest Hills is a course golfers enjoy for a full 12 months of the year. These are the most common questions we get asked, but if you have any questions, please let us know.
If you have any questions for our Greenkeeper, do leave a comment.
If you would like to play at Forest Hills you can check and book a tee time here