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Friday 22 June 2018

Teagasc researchers putting theory into practice on the golf course

Colm Dockrell, Assistant Principal Teagasc College of Horticulture, on the green at the golf course at Teagasc Food Research Centre, Ashtown.
Colm Dockrell, Assistant Principal Teagasc College of Horticulture, on the green at the golf course at Teagasc Food Research Centre, Ashtown.
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

“We wanted to replicate everything that is on a normal golf course.”

That’s the verdict of Teagasc  School of Horticulture’s assistant principal Colm Dockrell on the new three-hole golf course facility that has been built in Ashtown with the aim of training students to work in the turf grass sector.

The new training academy consists of three golf holes, three greens and three elevated teeing complexes but what is perhaps most interesting about the facility is the use of Roundup-resistant grass mixtures that make up the one hectare site.

“One green was sown with a Roundup-resistant fescue grass, the second with a combination of different fescue species and the third with a more traditional fescue/bent grass mixture,” says Colm.

According to Colm, the addition of Roundup-resistant grasses means that when they spray the green with chemicals, only the weed grasses will die and they’ll be able to keep the grasses they want.

“They haven’t been modified to be resistant, but these are naturally selected grasses from breeding programmes that have gone on for a couple of decades,” says Colm.

“The use of Roundup-resistant grasses is relatively new technology in sports turf establishment. Apart from the control of broad-leaved weeds, being able to use the herbicide on our greens will enable us to maintain a pure stand of the fine-leaved red fescue throughout the life of the green.

“In  particular, it will provide us with an effective control for annual meadow grass.”

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This is one of the first facilities in Ireland where such grasses have been used and Colm says that he has gotten queries from Irish golf courses interested in the technology.

The turf academy was recently opened by Minister for State Andrew Doyle recently and will train students in the Teagasc Sports Turf Science and Maintenance course and other full- and part-time courses.

Colm added that his students have the opportunity to go on placement in the US and many alumni are working in some of the world’s best golf courses.

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