Australian Shane Templeton discusses the course preparation for the second edition of the Sanya Ladies Open at Yalong Bay Golf Club in China.
How long have you been working at Yalong Bay Golf Club?
I’ve been looking after the course the last three years, before that I was a consultant for three years with a one year gap in between. I’ve been coming to Yalong Bay for seven years and I love it.
How has the course preparation varied this year?
This year we have been fighting the weather. Last year we had a lot of rain and this year we had a lot more rain in September, 20 inches or 500mm in September. Last year we only had 200mm or eight inches, so that disrupted our preparation of the course quite a lot. We did certain things around the greens, such as the green collars, we verti-cut them in September, assuming we would be ready for the tournament. Because of the rain they haven’t grown back very well. Around the greens are not as good as I would like them, so that disrupted our plans. Last year, while we had a low September, October was very high and we had 28 inches of rain in October, but because the grass was okay when we had the rain, our recovery on tournament week was fine.
Did you have any special grass diseases to deal with?
Sanya is home to all the diseases and pests in the world I think. We had a lot of fighting with what we call the white grub and army worm. They are the two major insects and diseases, brown patch, this year for some reason fairy rings but we’ve been able to control it.
How are you coping with the diseases?
Not too bad, even with the weather. I’ve done some precautionary preventative programmes so we’re not too bad. The main problem was 45 days of no sun, so the grass doesn’t grow this way (gestures horizontally), it grows this way (gestures vertically) and becomes very thin.
Has it been very hot?
It was worse in March, April, May: it was hotter. The last couple of months have not been too bad.
What is the maintenance programme after this?
Straight after the tournament we’ll do a mini coring to let the grass recover after the tournament and all the traffic. Then right through until next year we do very little maintenance because it’s out peak season and we want the course in peak condition. Our major maintenance is from March/April through until September.
What kind of water do you use on the golf course?
It’s all from rainwater. We have a huge lake on the course which holds about quarter of a million cubic meters of water. Next March it comes down but Sanya always rains so there’s no problem with water. We act as a catchment area for all the development you see in the background here.
What kind of herbicides do you use?
We need a lot because of the tropical conditions. There are many different weeds growing so that’s an ongoing battle all year.
When it goes into the ground does it pollute the environment?
This is not true. What people think about chemicals on courses, the truth is if we need to use a chemical... golf courses are the most effective in the world at holding the chemical there because under the grass there is a thatch layer. Chemicals very rarely go through that. The chemicals in a paddy field go straight through into the water because the rice is in water. Golf doesn’t do that. I’ve just had our water tested and its fine, you can drink it. It looks a bit brown but that’s because of rainfall coming in from other areas. We use pond water to clean the machines.
How many workers do you have at the golf course?
I have 43, operators are about 20 and the rest are mechanics, etc, so we are a little low. Our equipment is excellent as we are a 12 year old club so have invested recently.
What is the green speed for the Sanya Ladies Open?
I just took a stimpmeter reading and it was about 9.4. I was just talking to the tournament director and with the wind I don’t think we’ll go much more than that because if the wind stays up and the greens get faster there is a chance of the ball moving on the greens.
What scoring do you predict for the 2011 Sanya Ladies Open?
The forecast is for the wind to drop so I think it will be similar to last year. We’ve got Laura Davies here and the other girls are playing well with Melissa Reid and Lee-Anne Pace so there could be a battle to the end.