We met recently with David Gómez, who has been working together with Greenkeeper and Agronomist Julian Mooney to prepare the Al Maaden and Amelkis Golf Clubs for the Lalla Aicha Tour School. David is responsible for the Greens Section at the Royal Spanish Golf Federation.
David has been in charge of implementing a course improvement programme and has visited the courses five times since the summer to ensure that both courses are in perfect condition. We asked him to explain all the work that he has been doing and this is what he said:
“My first visit was this year in June for three days. This was the most difficult visit that I have ever done in my life because it was 47 degrees Celsius. I have never experienced these conditions, never been that hot… it was very tough! This has been one of the main problems and the other inconvenience we found was the lack of resources as we did not have much machinery to work with at the beginning.
Regarding the humidity, it was alright, as there was not much, luckily. If it had been more humid then there would have been more diseases on the plants and grass. The golf course at that moment was very soft, so a lot of work was needed.
Regarding the type of grass, both courses have ‘Agrostis - Creeping Bentgrass’ on the greens and on fairways, there is ‘Bermuda – Bermudagrass’ over seeded with “RayiGrass - Ryegrass”. The water is good quality as it comes from the mountains where there is a lot of snow, at the present time, but not when I first came in June!
After five visits, we have been monitoring the programmes to improve the condition of both golf courses. On our first visit the challenges we faced were the greens. The putting surfaces were soft and holding water due to poor drainage. We implemented an intensive programme of work aimed at improving percolation (drainage) and surface firmness to successfully prepare for Tour School. So we had to start a very aggressive program to make them less soft and to achieve more uniformity on the fairways. Weed grasses were all treated ahead of the event to provide a uniform playing surface.
Our big challenge has been to improve fairways and greens with little machinery. We had to bring new machinery from another course in the area and Lalla Soumia has helped us a lot. So with all this new machinery we could finally achieve our goals.
In the beginning, the local green keepers were a bit afraid of this program but as they have been watching and following the results, they turned more confident on what we were doing to the course. Now they are very happy with the result, they are very pleased and satisfied with the work we have been doing, which was the most important thing for me.
Regarding the bunkers, we did not have any problems at Amelkis, but we had to pack them at Al Maaden. In the beginning, you could have many embedded balls, but now we have solved it. We have also taken off all the stones, so now they are okay.
For this tournament, we have left the speed of the greens at 10 in Amelkis and 11 in Al Maaden, but I will try to get a balance from both. The big challenge for me at this event is that it’s a two-week tournament, so we have to make sure that the courses arrive in peak condition at the end of the event.