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GOLF


In 2011, we sprayed full brew compost teas on the greens and soon started to see an improvement. Over the years, that process has continued. We apply twice monthly with different


” L-r: TBC


Manor College, Enfield for his Level 2 Sports Turf Operative qualification. Gary also employs casuals too. Ron


Penny, retired, worked on the golf course for over twenty years until 2012 “Casual staff are used to cover holidays, rest days and to help at weekends too. Ron is an asset given his long history of working for the CoLC at Chingford Golf Course.”


Along with golf demands, Gary’s work commitments spread to the CoLC’s Wanstead football provision and wider sports operation team. Forty-five natural turf pitches sprawl across three sites, mostly full- size playing surfaces and some smaller ones for junior or mini football. “I step in when necessary,” he explains. “the Team Leader there, Paul Poupoutsi, and I work together to support both sports operations, covering for each other, sharing staff and helping work through operational issues to reach the best solution for the circumstance.” Maintaining a woodland site can attract wildlife issues, but Gary’s grateful for one small mercy. “The course has just four bunkers on it,” he reveals, smiling, leaving the team free of many of the animal intrusions that courses with more sand traps can fall prey to.


Gary has immense pride in his job, if only for one good reason. “The golf course is my


CV. If I had to move on, any prospective employer would look at my last course as proof or not of my competency.” Happy here, he seems unlikely to want to move site.


“I like to keep the presentation of the course as high as possible, but the conditions do not always allow us to deliver the perfect result.”


The history and status of Epping Forest ties the team on some aspects of their work. Deciduous poplar and oak dominate the area - some of the latter date back to medieval times - creating a huge task in autumn to collect fallen leaves. “We get support from the arborists who work for Epping Forest too, they are highly skilled tree surgeons who undertake the more complicated tree management on the course.”


With his ever-present eye on disease outbreak, Gary has introduced a programme of removing some of the shrubbery that lines the greens and foliage overhanging them. “It makes for better airflow and allows more natural light on to the course, especially in winter months,” he reports. At the back of the 8th green, the vegetation proved particularly challenging. “We removed some hawthorn and rose hedging last year and, as a result, are


- Treat Your Turf


    


PC April/May 2019


echneat 21


products to help the biology in the soil


fusarium-free, so that’s certainly helped.” However, the team must steer the saws clear of oak saplings sprouting up around the course,” he adds. “We must always remember that we are just one part of the wider Epping Forest landscape, which is such an asset for Londoners.”


Gary returns to turf management. “One of my first priorities after I arrived was to trial organic methods - applying a few different products and fertilisers in the hope of introducing a more natural growing environment.”


“In 2011, we sprayed full brew compost teas on the greens and soon started to see an improvement. Over the years, that process has continued. We apply twice monthly with different products to help the biology in the soil.”


The sward features predominantly Poa annual meadowgrass, but Gary is overseeding with bents this year, then fescues next to create a more balanced grass mix.


Because of the popularity of the course, the team strives to stay ahead of the first tee times - spiking, sanding and cutting before the day starts in earnest. Like many courses largely unchanged from an era well before the development of beefier drivers, Chingford needs extending


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