A Merseyside golf course has achieved stunning all-fescue greens using specialist grass seed breeder Barenbrug’s BAR 2, supplied by Lancashire Turf Supplies.
Spanning 200-acres of parklands, Formby Hall Golf Resort & Spa features an 18-hole championship course as well as a nine-hole PGA-accredited academy course. Upon its construction three years ago, course manager Paul Wylie sowed the academy course’s greens with BAR 2, a mixture of slender creeping red fescues and chewings fescues, together with 20 percent browntop bents.
But much to Paul’s surprise, there isn’t a bent in sight. “I haven’t a clue how or why the bents didn’t establish,” he laughs. “It must have been a fluke in the way the mixture was sown. We drilled into our own rootzone construction of 90 percent sand and 10 percent soil across the whole site, and the roots are very deep. We just got lucky, I guess.”
During its first twice yearly check-up, the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) confirmed that the greens were pure fescue. “Our consultant told us to enjoy it while it lasted as fescue is notoriously difficult to manage and won’t tolerate the wear,” Paul adds. “But three years later it’s still going strong. You would have expected it to decline by now, but that just hasn’t been the case. The challenge now is to maintain it.”
To do this, Paul treats his greens gently and keeps maintenance to a minimum. “We cut no lower than four-and-a-half millimetres and feed with two percent nitrogen. It hardly needs any water as it’s not a thirsty plant. It’s worked for the last three years – hopefully it will continue to work and keep the greens looking just as good.”
Formby Hall’s Barenbrug area manager Matt Williams says that while the results of Paul’s sowing are highly unusual he’s pleased to see the fescue in such great shape. “BAR 2 is specially formulated with 20 percent browntop bent to provide the wear tolerance that the fescues so need. There are several reasons why the bents did not establish, the most likely being sowing too deeply and thus being out-competed by the fescues. But with greens like that who’s worried!”
Unsurprisingly, these ‘dream’ pure-fescue greens have got quite a reputation among golfers fortunate enough to play on them. “Everyone who plays on them rave about them,” Paul concludes. “They’re arguably the best all-fescue greens in the country. They really are perfect to play on and roll like a dream. We’re delighted with them.”
Formby Hall Golf Resort & Spa www.formbyhallgolfresort.co.uk