Date: September 05, 2016
Author: Tony Durkin

Champion must master the Champion

2016 Isuzu Queensland Open champion will almost certainly be the champion because he will have mastered the Champion greens at The Brisbane Golf Club.

To be technically correct, they are the Ultra Dwarf Bermuda Champion greens, installed at the club over a 40-month period, with the last two greens opened to play earlier this year.

And while former BGC captain Terry Campbell says the greens will test the putting ability of the very best golfers, those who quickly pick the speed of the greens will be delighted with the accuracy.

“What we can guarantee on our new greens is a smoother, faster and more consistent ball roll,” Mr Campbell enthused.

“Golfers able to read the slope of the green and judge the pace of the surface, can putt with the confidence that the ball will go exactly where it is aimed.”

And while being personally delighted with the overall result, Course Superintendent Mitch Hayes said the positive reaction of members had been the best barometer of the success of the major project.

“In general, the members love the new greens,” he said.

“Obviously they took time to understand them and read them, but they now love the consistency of the greens all over the course and the subtle slopes that have been introduced.

“And yes, the greens are fast. And they will be fast for the Open.”

The new strain of grass on the BGC comes under the well-known US Champion Turf Farms umbrella, with more than 700 courses in America growing their product, including Pinehurst, the venue for the 2014 US Open.

Mr Campbell says that because of the heat and the humidity, growing grass with minimum grain on golf greens in Queensland had been almost impossible in the past.

“But Champion is a smaller leaf grass, able to be mown closer, has great colour with terrific speed and consistency,” he said.

“Good maintenance practices are required and with this the grain is reduced and exceptional putting surfaces produced,” he said.

Discussions on growing new greens at Brisbane started in 2011. Because of their age and severe encroachment from other grass species into the existing Bermuda 328 greens, the need for major work became obvious.

Former Course Superintendent Brett Morris had been exposed to Champion grass in the US and recommended BGC investigate installing it.

“We made contact with the Department of Primary Industries, obtained stolons from them, established our own test nursery and propagated all the stolons needed for our 21 greens,: Mr Campbell explained.

Mitch Hayes also spent 18 months working in the US and was well versed in the Champion grass when he and his team started the task of converting all 21 greens on the course.

“In simple terms, Champion greens are faster and truer because there is less friction on the golf ball because of the denser surface of the leaf,” he said.

“The conversion was a big job for all involved, but the result has been well and truly worth the effort. And if the great weather we have been having of late continues up until the Open, the greens should be near perfect for what will be their biggest test.”

Further praise for the Champion greens has come from Richard Backwell, who won the IFAA-Club Super-sponsored EZ-GO PGA Legends Tour ProAm at The Brisbane Golf Club in August. After his victory he described the putting surface as ‘genuine championship greens’.

Backwell won with a par round, the highlight being his 29 putts. And he was in raptures over the trueness of the Champion greens.

“They are very, very true. When I picked a right line and hit it on that line, the ball stayed there,” he said.

“Yes, the greens at Brisbane are fast, and yes they are firm. But they are also very true.”