New irrigation system for Montrose Golf Links pays off

Montrose Golf

The investment in a new irrigation system that was completed on the greens of the historic Montrose Golf Links earlier this year, recently helped receiving the most comprehensive sustainability award in golf.
The club was suffering from volumetric moisture readings on the greens. If this would have been allowed to continue, the club would have been left with different grass species colonising different areas of the same green, lush areas would support coarse grass where moisture deficient sections of the rootzone would support little or no grass which would have the greens turned into bare, bumpy and slow greens. While the greenkeepers at Montrose admitted that hand-watering is essential on every top-class golf course in the world, they encountered serious problems during the hot summer of 2018. Usually it is a relatively quick process with one greenstaff member taking around 4 hours to top up moistures on 18 holes following a base amount provided by the automatic irrigation system the night before. Last year however they were forced to employ 2-3 greenstaff per day until the hot weather subsided.
The new automated irrigation system addresses a swathe of issues that have affected the presentation of the course, which twice hosted Final Qualifying for the Open Championship. It replaces the previous system that had been in situ for more than 30 years and suffered from insufficient pressure, poor and uneven water coverage and limited irrigation options.
“The new irrigation system is a significant improvement on what we had before,” said Jason Boyd, PGA professional and operations manager at Montrose Golf Links in Golfshake. “It addresses a lot of on-course issues and will enable our greenkeeping team to present the 1562 course like never before. This is a massive investment that will have a huge impact on golf at Montrose.”
The total investment is estimated to be GBP 100,000 and will free up the Montrose greenkeepers to present the 450-year course to the highest possible standards.
“Because so much time was spent hand-watering greens, the new system will have a number of knock-on effects, especially for the greenkeepers,” explained Boyd. “The time released by the new system will now be spent improving greens, tees, fairways and approaches as well as focussing on smaller, detailed jobs that are so important.”
According to Darren McLaughlan, head greenkeeper at Montrose, the addition of the new irrigation system is hugely significant. “The need for a fully functioning irrigation system was overwhelming,” he says. “The new system will not only allow greenstaff to concentrate on course improvements while reducing disruption to play, it will also provide the foundation for producing true and consistent putting conditions and a more sustainable approach due to using less water.”
McLaughlan, who has a wealth of links golf experience after holding the position of course manager at Machrihanish Golf Club, says the new irrigation system ties in perfectly with the new GEO certified status at Montrose. “We are committed to delivering a world-class golfing experience that is sympathetic to the surrounding environment and spectacular coastline,” he said. “Montrose is a special place full of history and outstanding golf holes. We want people to enjoy Montrose, but we want to achieve that responsibly. This latest investment in the infrastructure that supports the course will help us do just that.”
Montrose Golf Links has now been awarded the Golf Environment Organisation (GEO) certificate – an accreditation the club had been working towards since 2007. Mike Wood, GEO accredited verifier, highlighted a number of key strengths during Montrose’s verification process. These included “committed ecological stewardship of an authentic setting of duneland topography and landcover, within which the high-quality playing surfaces harmoniously fit”.

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