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Preparing courses for reopening

Game Changers

For superintendents preparing courses for reopening, managing golfer expectations is critically important.

That’s the view of Stephen Chappell, former head greenkeeper at Gleneagles and now superintendent at Royal Bled in Slovenia.

Speaking just one week after his course opened (May 1, 2020), he says golfers should consider the restrictions the turf team have been working under and continue to face.

“Our crew is about a third of what it should be so there is a lot of attention-to-detail work that we are just not getting to,” said Stephen.

“The main play areas – tees, fairways, greens, approaches – we are able to maintain to a decent standard and the feedback we have had so far has been positive.

“But there is stuff that isn’t being done, isn’t being attended to and there is an element of frustration from my part and my crew’s part that we are not able to present the golf course as we feel it should be presented.

“However, under the regulations and the common sense of social distancing, that’s just the way it is.”

Chappell, who was in charge of the PGA Centenary Course for The 2014 Ryder Cup, says that greenkeepers in Europe played a key role before lockdown, helping keep clubs open and members safe – and have dutifully maintained courses to ensure they can reopen safely.

Now, he hopes greenkeepers will receive greater recognition for the central role they play in golf course businesses.

“I really hope – and I’m optimistic – the profile of greenkeeping will be raised outside of our own industry and profession. And I hope the guys pick up the mantle and push that advantage home.”

Has your course reopened? How are you managing your course maintenance and expectations of your customers? Share your insights and experiences with us.