Managing the course

Rob Schubert, Nathan Parlby and Tim Pierce (absent Kyle Fisher and Michael Boland).

Last weekend, in lockdown, before the curfew and using my exercise allowance time, I walked the boundary of the RACV Golf Course.

Having reached the Ryans Road “Right Angle”, I peered through the wire fence.

The sun was out, shadows fell across the fairways and of course a mob of roos were grazing about the junction in the distance.

How disheartening; not only are we in lockdown, we’re locked out, all that open space, fresh air, green grass and not a single person about.

Continuing my walk, I remembered our local Historian Bryn Jones, telling me the RACV had purchased the Golf Course in 1951 and 55 years later they spent $85 million to redevelop it.

How lucky we are to have such a wonderful facility like this in Healesville, I thought.

By this stage of my walk, I found myself standing behind the 8th tee block, “The Lookout”.

The course looked splendid from this vantage point and obviously the RACV ground manager and crew had been busy.

I should drop in on the way past and congratulate them, I thought.

Pushing on around “Ryans Curve” it occurred to me that Tim has been the RACV Ground Manager since May 2008; some two years before the new course was opened. What the man doesn’t know about the course… wouldn’t be worth knowing.

I’m definitely calling in, I decided, it will give me something to write about.

“How’s it going Tim, it’s easy to see you and your boys have been busy”, I said as I walked through the back gate.

“Yes, we’re at it all the time,” Tim replied. “It never ends here, servicing machinery, replacing and sharpening mower blades, there’s a lot of grass out there too, about 160 acres of it. The crew have got the spraying out of the way and now we’re preparing for the growing season,” he explained.

Much of the work Tim and his boys do; goes unnoticed, especially the days of competition when you can bet that it’s Rob Schubert, Nathan Parlby and Michael Boland out early mornings, busily mowing the greens, replacing pins, tee block markers and raking bunkers.

I was pleased Tim gave me some time and it was fascinating to learn that the roughs about the course are made up of indigenous grasses, the fairways of Santa Ana couch, cut to 13mm and the greens of Bent Grass, similar to Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath cut down 3.5mm to 3 in summer.

“It can be a bit of a juggling act, you know, sometimes what might be planned today has to be put off until tomorrow. After all we’re coming up to the wettest time of year.” He said

And yes! He’s right… it’s so easy for us golfers, we just turn up, push the tee into the ground and fail to appreciate the work that goes into making the golf course playable.

“By October, we will start to get the perfect bit of sun to dry the ground.”

“So what’s involved then Tim?” I asked.

“We’ll be aerating fairways, spiking the greens,” he said.

Just looking about the shed with all the machinery and equipment on display; it was a very impressive scene. One that gave a better understanding of just how much work was involved around the grounds.

The monitoring of equipment and then the repair of machinery, expertly carried out by Mechanic Kyle Fisher. And then there’s the irrigation system or the effort to encourage the growth of root systems, rolling greens to remove plug marks or bumps and replacing sand in the bunkers.

All this goes on behind the scenes or patiently between each playing group as they play through.

So from golfers who’ve weathered the winter months and those who’ll come out in greater numbers when the warmer weather arrives, we thank you lads for all your hard work.