Norbert Lischka’s wishes to golf course architects and designers

Added on December 4th, 2019 by Lorne Smith
Posted in course design, Greenkeeping

Norbert Lischka, Master Greenkeeper

Norbert Lischka (‘The Turf Fox’) has written many outstanding articles for FineGolf  and his latest is a plea to golf course architects and designers to take account of greenkeeping issues in their designs.

You may recall that this issue was most obvious in the 1990s when investors were pouring money into new golf course builds. But they only listened to the course architects. Unfortunately most architects showed that they had little appreciation of the importance of greenkeeping in building a sustainable business model. It was only after the courses were built that the downsides of not taking greenkeeping advice and the subsequent financial cost of high maintenance came to light. Many courses had to be sold on at a loss and some even went bankrupt.

FineGolf is pleased to be able to publish Norbert’s seventeen wishes to golf course architects and designers:

  • Avoid ego-driven ‘lighthouse’ projects that later fail financially and/or are un-maintainable
  • Include greenkeepers from day one of the construction planning
  • Architects should have at least a basic knowledge in conservation greenkeepingThey should have read Jim Arthur’s  ‘Practical Greenkeeping the bible of greenkeeping.
  • Design maintainable undulations on the greens with at least 10 pin positions
  • Design greens so that surface water runs-off (avoid bathtub effect and bunker washouts)
  • Create no low points in the green approach that risk collecting of water (also danger of compaction in the main playing and maintenance area)
  • Build greens with a minimum distance 15-20 m to the forest (consider the age of existing or new trees to be planted)
  • Have as few bunkers as possible (high building and maintenance costs)
  • Schedule 3-4 access-points to the greens (avoiding the compression produced with only 1 or 2 accesses)
  • Have as few water hazards as possible which a) risks high construction and maintenance costs and b) reduces the risk of grass diseases due to increased humidity in the environment.)
  • No compromise on the construction of rootzones (costs will otherwise be disproportionately incurred to maintenance later)
  • Build the tee size according to wear and tear (forward/ ladies tees approx. 50% smaller, reducing costs of construction and maintenance)
  • Build par-three men + ladies tees about 30% larger
  • During the construction phase, arrange weekly visits for several days. Advantage: tight control of the construction companies (avoidance of construction errors, which later lead to high costs in greenkeeping)
  • In bad weather, ensure timely cessation of construction activity (otherwise it later leads to increased costs and time spent in maintenance)
  • Ensure no use of peat (alternative: earthworm humus with coal)
  • When planting trees, consider the location, size and distances between them for the next 20-50 years

FineGolf  would add that architects should recommend the use of fine grasses for the grow-in to give firmness to aprons, run-offs and greens to allow golfers the option of playing the running game. This will enhance the effect of the hazards and the movement in the ground, and reduce golfers being able to fly high the hazards and stop the ball dead by the pin on soft annual meadow grass (Poa annua) greens.

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