Golfers on one of New Zealand’s oldest courses have faced an unwanted handicap after club members accidentally poisoned several greens while trying to kill a fungus that was destroying their lawn.
Senior members hoped to salvage the damaged course greens at Christchurch’s Hagley Park, but instead ended them when they inadvertently used a double dose of fungicide.
Alan Timo, vice president of Hagley Golf Course, said the unfortunate incident was the culmination of many events that occurred during a four-month gap between the park owners.
Former greenkeeper Daniel Tiven left his role in April and Timo took on a supervisory role, with the support of the CEO and members, until a new greenkeeper was started.
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Not long after Tiffin was gone, a fast-spreading dollar spot fungus appeared in the greens, quickly killing the lawn.
On the advice of a specialist, a plan was devised to spread fungicides on the greens.
But after two weeks of slight improvement, a second dose was sprayed – which was twice as strong.
It’s also possible that there was some herbicide in the large spray tank that wasn’t cleaned properly, Timo said.
Within two weeks, the green had turned yellow, and it was clear that something had gone wrong.
After another two weeks, the grass was completely dying on many of the greens, Timo said.
“It was the icing on the cake of both, really — a bit of bad luck to have a super-strength fungicide and some toxins left in there as well.”
The most affected area was in the lower half of the course.
Temporary greens have since been laid out, and seven greens have been fully restored.
Timo said the provisional greens were running at about 60% of the usual standard and the course rating was adjusted to maintain the exact handicap points.
He stressed that no one is to blame.
“The problem came when we didn’t have a green guard and decisions were being made by the committee.”
Timo said it didn’t seem to affect the popularity of the golf course, which currently has about 400 paying members, the highest number ever.
His popularity boosted him by appointing the club’s professional Matt McDowell some 18 months earlier.
This is not the first time the club has run into problems on its track.
In March last year she had Large anti-mandate messages roamed two lanes and blocked with herbicide.
The golf club leases the grounds from Christchurch City Council and operates the course as a not-for-profit golf course.
It was family-friendly, Timo said, and the club encouraged children and juniors to play.
“It’s a very friendly golf club. In our club competition everyone plays together. There are no groups or anything like that. “
He said the members understood the situation the club was in and the process it was going through.
“If there’s a good side to the story, it’s that we get a whole new vegetable in the winter.”
Since then, new greenskeeper Scott Schurmans has devised a recovery plan that includes reseeding injured greens.
One of them has already quite succeeded, Timo said, and by spring it should look better than ever.
“It’s the second oldest golf club in New Zealand and we hold our 150th celebrations in November, so we want the golf course to be spotless by then.”
He estimated that the restoration would cost about $20,000, but that was offset by the costs of regular maintenance that would not be required during the reseeding.